Along with poutine and smoked meat, bagels form the holy trinity of Montreal's most iconic foods. Two names have historically dominated the bagel landscape – Fairmount and Saint-Viateur – but others have managed to carve themselves a little piece of the pie.
An example of this is Hinnawi Bros, a collection of bagel shops and cafés which started in the Plateau just under a decade ago. In the years since, three locations were added in the university/office-dense areas around the McGill and Concordia campuses. Today I grabbed some takeout for lunch from the branch on the corner of De Maisonneuve and Mackay streets.
Hinnawi Bros is not reinventing the bagel; in fact, their ring-shaped breads follow the Montreal-style bagel quite closely. The angle here is their assortment of sandwiches made by inserting anything from smoked salmon and tuna salad to grilled chicken and smoked meat between two slices of their homemade bagels.
And it's not all animal driven; vegetarian options include tofu and avocado. Otherwise, there are a couple of breakfast plates and a varied selection of coffee to choose from. After all, Hinnawi is more of a lounge-y café where patrons are invited to linger around, as opposed to a pure bakery selling goods to go.
On paper, nothing could go wrong with a bagel sandwich combining smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers and onions, provided the ingredients are fresh and quality. Alas, the bagel was hard, the salmon was tough and lacking in flavour, while the cream cheese was seemingly absent. With a wilted salad and standard potatoes on the side, this classic dish was a total misfire.
While waiting for my sandwich to be prepared, I asked the woman behind the counter to add a half dozen bagels to my order, to take home for the week. To my surprise, I was handed an ice-cold, pre-packaged plastic bag; the sort you would find on a supermarket shelf.
When she noticed my look of confusion, the woman explained that their bagels are made in a central oven, then delivered to each location where they are kept frozen. While I cannot wrap my head around why a bagel shop would freeze its bagels, this would explain why the one for my sandwich was hard throughout and lost its chewiness.
While I do not want to sound too harsh on this café from a single visit, I cannot foresee myself returning any time soon.
tagged: DESERVES A RETRY
Price per person: $14.98
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.