The Better Half, having lived in New York for a while, is a bit persnickety about his bagels. Most Midwestern bagels don’t rate: too doughy, not chewy enough, too big. Bruegger’s are okay, but when he recently went to an event at the Mayerson Jewish Community Center, he was served some bagels that were a little closer to what he was used to: chewy, with a good crust. Now, he realizes that a lot of what makes a New York bagel a New York bagel involves the water (NYC water is very different than Cincinnati water, and the boiling is a big part of bagel making), but these are very close. When I informed him that the bagels were probably from Marx, and that they were easy to get, the next week he made a trek up to Blue Ash (not much of a trek, really) for our annual holiday season bagel breakfast. He was concerned: “So, I guess I’ll pick up smoked salmon at Kroger?” I blanched. ”No, Sweetie. They have the best lox in town. Just get it there.” He was not disappointed.
Marx Bagels is probably the best-known Kosher-friendly restaurant in town. It’s overseen by the local Va’ad Hoier: fish is available, but no meat, making the bagels vegetarian-friendly. Beyond bagels, they feature the aforementioned smoke lox, whitefish salad, tuna salad and egg salad. Terry picked up a couple of “everything” bagels, a pound of lox, some egg salad and whitefish salad.
The bagels are just as good as I’ve always remembered: chewy, with some crispiness in the crust. They’re small, not airy or mushy. Just perfect. The lox is also great– a nice amount of smokiness, and a melt-in-your-mouth texture. The egg and whitefish salads were also good: I particularly liked the egg salad, as it didn’t have too much mayonnaise. Terry is a huge fan of whitefish salad, which was a little too smoky for my tastes, but he enjoyed it.
If you go in, you have a good chance of getting yelled at by the owner, John Marx, who takes pride in the character he brings to the store. Know your order, or he’ll tell you to get back in line. And for the love of God, don’t talk on a cell phone in line– that’ll get you a verbal spanking. If you want a bit less character, go on Saturdays– he’s off then. But what would the experience of a NY-style bagel shop be without character?