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Baked Goods

Nu Bugel

Posted by Liora Ipsum / Posted on February 4, 2013

nu bugel torontoNu Bugel opened its doors this week after months of delays, finally bringing one of my favourite breakfast foods to Kensington Market.

nu bugel torontoAdmittedly, I am a bit of a bagel aficionado. Growing up, my family only had one Sunday morning tradition and it involved a walk to Kiva's, or a drive to grandma's hitting Gryfe's on the way. Later, a brief stint living in Montreal's Mile End won my allegiance to the chewy, boiled variety, but ultimately it's not so much the bagel that I crave, but rather the lazy ritual of a morning walk rewarded by carbs, cream cheese, and coffee. Until recently this was not an experience available in Toronto's downtown core.

nu bugel torontoAs it turns out, it was no easy feat. Co-owners Roberto Iglicki, Juan Hernandez and Shahzad Khuram had to reinforce the foundation when building the 20,000 lb wood burning oven onsite, which is essential for giving these Montreal-style bagels their signature earthy flavour and hard crust.

nu bugel torontoThe bakery cafe takes over the space formerly home to the Kensington Clothing Company and the transformed interior nods to its past life with adornments like the original signage (or at least a piece of it), and an antique Singer sewing machine serving as a milk and sugar station. The atmosphere is only missing one thing: the smell of the wood burning oven.

nu bugel torontoIntegral to my ritual (and the entire reason I've been looking forward to Nu Bugel's opening) is ordering a bag of bagels first thing and eating one while the doughy middle is still steaming, preferably before you even make it out of the store.

nu bugel torontoSadly, on entering Nu Bugel I knew this wasn't going to happen; a large batch baked earlier was skewered on display, but the wood burning oven wasn't even on. My fears were quickly confirmed when my half dozen ($5) bagels were handed over cold - though I'll forgive it this once, with the hope that once they gain a little momentum, those ovens will be firing all day long.

nu bugel torontoThe large blackboard menu is extensive and a little chaotic. In addition to soups and salads, there are a dozen sandwiches on offer like the Exotic Avocado ($6.50), which features spicy black bean hummus, avocado, and pea shoots between your bagel of choice. Its not the most attractive sandwich, but it's tasty, and a nice vegetarian option.

nu bugel torontoThe Lox and Cream Cheese Sandwich ($8) is of course the traditionalists' choice and comes served with customary red onion slices and an added twist of lemon caper aioli. For me, the additional creamy component of aioli isn't necessary and it doesn't deliver the intended zing that lemon and capers promise. Though I'm not convinced its an improvement on the classic, it does hit the spot.

nu bugel torontoThe Smoked Trout Sandwich ($8) features flaky fish from Oakville-based The Smoke Master, and comes gussied up with horseradish jelly and mustard. The strong flavours are inventive but don't really do each other justice. I've never felt so strongly conservative and I find myself wishing I had stuck to tried and true classics like the smoked meats supplied by what's arguably one of Toronto's best delis, Moe Pancer's.

Though I'm glad to have tried Nu Bugel's cafe offerings, I'll likely stick to take-away on future visits. The bakery is open (every day but Monday) 11am to 6pm, and if their first weekend was any indication, line-ups are to be expected.

nu bugel torontoPhotos by Jesse Milns

Discussion

37 Comments

Chris / February 4, 2013 at 12:31 pm
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"Until recently this was not an experience available in Toronto's downtown core."

I guess St. Lawrence Market must be in Scarborough then, because last I checked, there's a St. Urbain, making fresh, Montreal style bagels all day long (and yes, you can even get them with steam in the bag) at the market, for several years now. But then, that does entail going east of Yonge St (even if it is only 2 blocks) - probably too far east for a typical BlogTO writer to venture, so I guess I can forgive your ignorance on this. That said, if you're going to make such sweeping pronouncements about the downtown core, it probably helps to actually know your way around it.

Haven't tried Nu Bagel as yet, but it's always nice to see additional options popping up around the downtown area.

Natalia / February 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm
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This is certainly a welcome (and well-needed) addition to Toronto, but to serve Montreal bagels cold is just a shame.
JAAAAAAAT replying to a comment from Chris / February 4, 2013 at 12:48 pm
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chris likes his bagels - dont mess with him.
Dan / February 4, 2013 at 12:58 pm
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Will try these (despite the obnoxious store name), but I doubt they will dethrone Bagel House as the best bagels (Montreal or not) in Toronto.
stephanie / February 4, 2013 at 01:05 pm
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sigh... this isn't the same at all. mtl bagels are supposed to be served right out of the oven, which pumps out bagels 24/7. nonstop steaming delicious mounds of bagels.

torontonians just don't appreciate bagels...
J*town / February 4, 2013 at 01:09 pm
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Bagel House bagels are hard to beat indeed but I look forward to giving Nu Bugel a try!
Elise / February 4, 2013 at 01:25 pm
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I read this article and was kind of surprised that absolutely nowhere does it mention if the bagels are any good!

We're they flavourful, dense, chewy, sweet? Was the hole too big or just right? To "review" a place that sells bagels, I expect to know something after reading the article other than they were not served warm.
steve replying to a comment from Elise / February 4, 2013 at 01:28 pm
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if they weren't served warm then they aren't any good.
Sophia / February 4, 2013 at 01:55 pm
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ALL bagels are of the 'boiled variety.'

Have to echo above comment about forgetting St Urbain - they're almost always still warm and too easy to eat while walking around the market.

MeagAn / February 4, 2013 at 02:04 pm
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I true Nu Bugel this weekend and it was absolutely amazing. true it did not have the strong open fresh bagel sent I was hoping for but I'm sure tht will come as the oven becomes busier. The bagel were still fresh, goey and rediculously delicious. I had a Pancetta tomatos arugula and cream cheese bagel, cost me a steep 9 dollars but a surprise side salad made it a little more tolerable. My friend, a guy not worried about carb intake ordered a "twisted bagel" that was surprisingly large toasted with peanut butter and banana. That my friends was a bagel for the ages.
All in all Nu Bugel was delicious moderately priced, was able to create my own sandwich, had delicious hot chocolate, and staff/owners was very friendly and accomodating.
Side note, they had run out of bananas and they simply went across the street to buy new ones while we sat drinking our hot chocolate, eating a pretzel and enjoying the lovely atmosphere.
Mark / February 4, 2013 at 04:09 pm
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Is this a "first in, last out" system for filing bagels? I feel bad for whoever grabs the last one on the rack...
Porcelain / February 4, 2013 at 06:24 pm
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Pretty sure Nu Bugel serves bagels both warm and not warm (bagels cool fairly quickly). The wood-fired oven is in operation all day and warm bagels have been available every time I've been there (daily). The flavours are every bit as wonderful as Montreal's St-Viateur Bagel Shop, my personal benchmark. I strongly recommend Nu Bugel to anyone who appreciates a fine bagel.
sean / February 4, 2013 at 06:42 pm
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this doesn't seem to fit into the fabric of kensington that well though. it looks way too upmarket. I'm not saying it has to look like crap, but there is a certain rustic/down-to-earthness in kensington that's getting eroded. Blue banana is another example.
Hole in My Head / February 4, 2013 at 07:35 pm
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I hope these Kensington bagels are much better than St. Urbain. Nice looking place though, name is weird. I've never been impressed by St Urbain Bagel. They're good pretenders though, if you don't really know much about bagels in Montreal.
meagan replying to a comment from sean / February 4, 2013 at 09:20 pm
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actually if you go in it, its really cool and rustic looking, the sewing machine milk and sugar station is a nice touch and the wood tables and benches are cool too
Michael Scott replying to a comment from Elise / February 4, 2013 at 09:21 pm
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"Was the hole too big or just right?"

That's what she said!!
KensingtonGirl / February 5, 2013 at 12:06 am
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Visited this place yesterday,
These bagels are tasty, much better than the bagels the surrounding cafes can offer. I would not call it an attraction on it's own, certainly not Montreal doppelgangers.

They are great bagels, dense, sweet, slightly chewy (long after being out of the oven), enough sesame seeds (not fantastically rolled in them like true St. Viateurs, still). They aren't the skinny little guys you get in MTL either. If you want the real deal, go to St. Urbain.

The real winner was the pretzels! Maybe even worth the $2.50 they charge for 'em.
Aaron / February 5, 2013 at 01:10 am
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Is there such a thing as a Toronto-style anything, anywhere?
Sadie / February 5, 2013 at 01:56 pm
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Ummm... $8 for a sesame bagel with lox and cream cheese? THIS IS BURGLARY! I'll stick to Bagel House, which is the best in Toronto, bar none. Get out of here with your cold, over-priced downtown bagels.
Binky replying to a comment from Sadie / February 5, 2013 at 03:00 pm
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Nu Bugel's bagels are $9/dozen. That's $0.75 each. Overpriced Sadie???
Sadie replying to a comment from Binky / February 5, 2013 at 03:20 pm
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Binky, how courteous of you to reply! As you may notice, if you read a little more carefully, I made no reference to the price of a dozen bagels, but rather to the jacked-up price of a cream cheese and lox bagel...

As you were.
Dorothy / February 5, 2013 at 03:35 pm
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Just had my late lunch there today. Walked all the way from class (near Museum stn) to Kensington. Walked in and was met with a nice crowd and a friendly welcome. Person before me ordered the last smoked chicken which was cool because I read the menu again and saw something else I liked/better steal. Ordered the tuna on the 'everything' bagel w/ pickled gingers + a salad on the side. I did not expect it to be amazing but was blown away. Their 'everything' bagel is just perfect. Price was actually good (5.64). I could have walked into another place at Kensington and paid the exact same amount for a totally different (great) meal/dish but the quantity, quality, and filling factor are surprisingly equal. Also exceptional service. Hope they start baking more on the spot + add whole wheat (heehee) but I'll definitely be coming back. For now, I got half a dozen of nice bagels for the family this week. Mm.

Happy it's open!
Binky replying to a comment from Sadie / February 5, 2013 at 05:29 pm
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Ditto Sadie.

How courteous of you to reply too and "... if you read a little more carefully", you'll note I was addressing your "... over-priced downtown bagels" remark in your first Comment (that's bagels plural, right?) by bringing to your attention that these "downtown bagels" in fact sell for a very reasonable $0.75 each by the dozen, and are not "over-priced", as you'd stated.

Re. the price of your bagel sandwich, your opinion is of course as valid as the next person's.

As you were Sadie.
Jay / February 5, 2013 at 07:58 pm
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Opens at 11AM? Way to get the breakfast crowd...
Kay replying to a comment from Jay / February 6, 2013 at 12:52 pm
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Not open at 2 AM! Way to get the bar crowd...
Lay replying to a comment from Jay / February 6, 2013 at 01:17 pm
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Not open at 4 AM! Way to get the graffiti crowd...
KC / February 6, 2013 at 03:03 pm
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True story: I said "Half a dozen Everything bagels please." I paid and turned to go. The bag felt heavy so I said to one of the owners as I left the shop, "This doesn't feel like a half-dozen. I asked for half a dozen but maybe it sounded like I'll have a dozen." He said, "Never mind. Just enjoy them". Sure enough, they'd given me a dozen for the price of half a dozen.

Thanks Nu Bugel!!! That's how customers for life are made.
Tuli replying to a comment from sean / February 7, 2013 at 10:57 pm
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Is there a fabric of kensington?? I never knew such things.
Ashley / March 4, 2013 at 03:12 pm
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Love their tasty homemade cream cheese! The red pepper one was amazing! So friendly too! When the bagels are warm and fresh they almost melt in your mouth! The only bagel worth buying is a Mtl style bagel and the price is fantastic! Hope these guys stick around for a long time
chelsea hair salon / March 30, 2013 at 09:32 pm
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Wow, that's what I was exploring for, what a data! present here at this website, thanks admin of this site.
Sam / April 1, 2013 at 04:55 pm
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Ya, I too would like to know a bit about the bagel itself, hmm
FloraF / April 19, 2013 at 05:56 pm
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So far the best bagels I've found in Toronto, coming close to the famous Montreal ones I used to enjoy. Chewy, flavour, size and crust just right.

St.Urbain's ones from St.Lawrence are frankly disappointing and insipid. What a bagel is also uninspiring. And yes, the name is unfortunate, but everything else about this place is great: very welcoming atmosphere, great sides (even if a bit expensive in-store), lovely prices for take-away bagels and jars of homemade lox cream cheese (not cloying Philadelphia style at all).

p.s. btw if the bagel hasn't been boiled before baking it's just NOT a bagel at all, period.
Jack Augh / April 20, 2013 at 04:16 am
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Ok so the bagels were cold, big deal. Will the writer please tell us what the bagels tasted like?
Janice P / May 2, 2013 at 10:03 am
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Haven't tried Nu-Bagel but St Viateur in Montreal does serve hot out of the oven bagels, I agree that if they're not boiled first they aren't a bagel, and... at St Viateur a bagel with cream cheese and lox was $13 if I remember correctly. I just got two bagels to go and they were cold but delicious toasted the next morning. So I shall one day try Nu-Bagel instead of getting a St Urbain at My Market.
Amanda J / November 30, 2013 at 02:06 pm
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I tried this for the first time today. My whole wheat bagel was hard and dry. Service was good and the price was fair.
When it's busier they don't seem to have enough people to clean the tables, a few tables were empty but still dirty and I was in there for about half an hour and they weren't dealt with.
For ordering the system seems a little messy and unorganized to the name on the order, and how they call them up.
Didn't know when or how to pick up my bagel and it ended up sitting on the counter for a while despite me catching eye contact with the cashier guy numerous times.
Just seems like it's not organized and the food was poor.
Maybe whole wheat was a bad idea, the rest of them looked nicer.
Amanda J / November 30, 2013 at 02:07 pm
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Hot chocolate was great though! Even though it took a little bit...
Tobey Steeves / April 13, 2014 at 02:20 pm
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Be very very careful at this place. I have gone thrice now and they overcharged me 2x out of 3 visits.

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