A great reason to ditch work
It was 3 p.m. on a Monday, the slowest day of my work week, when a chat message popped up on my screen. It was my friend Elizabeth, who I haven’t seen in a while, but the hyperlink she sent said it all: www.newgardenbagels.com.
“I might have to leave my office right now,” my friend said.
“Hold the f***ing phone,” I wrote back. “I’m serious dog. I want to go right now. It’s 3 and they close at 4…” With that, we wrapped up what we were working on, wrote down the address, and slipped out of our respective offices on opposite sides of the city. Fifteen minutes later, beaming, we walked into New Garden Bagels across from the Jefferson Shopping Center.
This is a big deal for us — we’ve been waiting for an authentic bagel place almost from the moment we each moved here.
I quickly downed a toasted honey whole-wheat bagel with plain cream cheese, marveling at its freshness and appropriate softness. I altered my plan to eat one on scene and take others with me, anteing up for the last egg everything bagel and adding lox spread. A new favorite was instantly born.
New Garden Bagels is the real deal: Kosher certified, spreads made in house, lox. The mission, to “bring Greensboro the freshest and most authentic New York style bagel” that is boiled and then baked says it all. And yes, they are made by a New Yorker — owner and active National Guardsman Ed Bonniberger.
For those who are hesitant about lox, as I was as a kid, the lox spread is a safe bet — a toned down version of a bagel with cream cheese and lox, sans capers and onions and for less than half the price. The texture of lox is missing and the flavor muted mildly (because there’s less of it), a welcome compromise for some but blasphemy to some purists.
I snagged a few to bring home so I could speak more authoritatively about the variety of bagels offered, and decided to put some to the Northeastern test. The quality of the circular delights already bore a stamp of approval from a New Jersey native and this Massachusetts transplant, but I wanted to run them by a friend from Connecticut.
Bagels and other missing cuisine are regular topics of conversation between out-oftowners. Just last week my Connecticut connect publicly mourned her inability to find Portuguese rolls here, and after bonding in our shared grief, the topic changed to bagels. Discovering New Garden Bagels just days later, I knew she’d need a few.
Walking into her apartment that evening, she had no forewarning about my afternoon excursion, and I tossed a bag with an egg bagel and a poppy bagel in her lap. Her face lit up as she opened the paper bag, pointed to the pockmarks that indicate they were boiled and emitted a gentle groan when she realized one was egg before tearing into it immediately.
A gluten-intolerant friend from New Jersey who was present couldn’t partake, but asked if this new joint met her authenticity requirements: Is there veggie cream cheese? Indeed, there is. The bagel disappeared quickly, and two more Northerners lent their credibility to Greensboro’s new haven for J-Date meet ups and New York natives.
My work-ditching partner in crime recounted her conversation with a coworker that aptly captures why this is such a big deal for Yanks such as us. Her Southern colleague, confused what all the frenzied excitement in their office before the excursion was about, said he couldn’t see why bagels merited such giddiness. Imagine if you moved out of the South, she said, and your only shot at a solid biscuit was to make it yourself. That’s how many transplants feel — slightly lost without our comfort food.
Southerners who aren’t clamoring in the same way we are will still appreciate the quality of the food, possibly opting for the pimento cheese bagel or checking back weekly for new additions, as the menu suggests.
Even though I ate two bagels with cream cheese just before 4 p.m., by 6 I cut into the jalapeño cheddar bagel I brought home, toasting it before adding butter. As I lay in bed eating the two halves, a spicier alternative to my earlier selections, I realized I was capable of killing one or two more that night. It sounded like a bad idea, and I didn’t do it, but maybe only because I ran out. !
Visit New Garden Bagels at 1577-D New Garden Road, Greensboro or call 336/763.0380. Find more information, including the menu, at newgardenbagels.com.