Bagels on Fire
Bagels on Fire is a new little bagel shop in the Beaches that churns out Montreal-style bagels which are served distinctly not on fire. They do, however, come from a wood-fired oven. Husband and wife duo Hazel and Julio Penullar make the bagels themselves from scratch, and alongside your traditional everything, poppyseed and sesame varieties, they also make pretzels and giant twisty bagels. There are specialty flavours, too, like pumpernickel and coconut.
I get to chatting with Hazel, and she says she and her husband used to work together at The Bagel House, he as a baker and she as a cashier. They've been saving and planning for six years with the hopes of opening their own place, and, finally, Bagels on Fire is the realization of that dream.
My picky palate and stomach are happy to report that their hard work truly paid off, and I would venture so far as to say many Beaches residents are in agreement with my body parts. The shop was full of people venturing in and out during the half hour or so I was there, from older folks picking up bagels to bring home, to teenagers grabbing quick snacks, to parents and small kids having play dates. Bulk bagels can be had for as little as $7.25/dozen.
I was there late in the morning, and Hazel told me that, aside from bulk bagels, their sandwiches are big sellers. So I order a sesame seed bagel, my absolute favourite, garnished with tuna salad, lettuce and tomato ($5.50).
The sandwich is perfect, with the bagel toasted to a light, slightly crunchy golden brown, the tuna salad having the perfect portion of mayo mixed in (not soggy, but not too dry) and the produce crisp and fresh. It is, in short, the ideal lunch, both taste and portion-wise.
In the mornings, Hazel says her bacon breakfast sandwiches fly out the door almost faster than she can make them. Their Kicking Horse drip coffee ($1.19) goes pretty quickly, too. I enjoy a cup as I sit and chat with her, and as far as drip coffees go, at least, this one hits the spot.
Because my lunch was so good, I wind up going back later to grab some take-home bagels in the most popular flavours, which are onion and everything. They underline my early impression that these are some legit baked goods. The bagels remind me of St. Viateur in Montreal. Sure enough, Hazel tells me they were inspired by the legendary Montreal bagel house.
Worth noting is that Bagels on Fire is pretty small with seating for about nine, and the worst top 40 tunes blasting from the radio. If you hate Bon Jovi, I would recommend Bagels on Fire as a takeout place as opposed to a sit-down restaurant.
Photos by Kat RIzza