by Alice Levitt
1166 Williston Road, South Burlington, 497-2058
Its interior finished with boards from a 1791 Shelburne barn, the Bagel Place, the newest eatery on Williston Road, is classier than your average bagel joint. But does the food match the ambience?
Last Sunday, it was suitably crowded with families lining up for a quick breakfast. And it was quick. A team of counter servers assembled my meal so fast, the folks at Burger King would blush. The prices, too, were comparable for a product that surprised me with its quality. My large meal for two added up to $23.46.
Naturally, I started with breakfast. A honey-whole-wheat bagel crackled with whole grains and betrayed just a hint of sweetness. It was filled with a freshly cooked egg, cheddar and Taylor ham. The hard-to-find product was a fun addition, but with just a single slice, I could barely taste it.
No such problem with the Italian sandwich. A trio of meats — prosciutto, capicola and salami — was of unexpectedly fine quality. Fresh lettuce, green peppers and tomato didn't wilt despite the plain bagel being griddled, but the Provolone was melted and oozed out just enough to make a crisp crust at the edges of the bagel. Best of all, a generous dousing of vinegar soaked into the bagel, but didn't make it soggy.
Now, a word about the bagel itself: It was soft enough so that fillings didn't spill out with each bite, as bagel sandwiches are wont to do. Just a bit of chew reminded me it was indeed a bagel, but it worked seamlessly as sandwich bread. Still, I think I would have been less forgiving without the filling. On its own, I like a hearty, chewy bagel.
At less than $4.55, the house salad was so large that even after my dining partner and I shared it for lunch, I was able to eat it for two more meals.
An uncommon mix of veggies made it a bit more fun than an average garden salad. Along with fresh greens, cucumber slices, carrots and cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and alfalfa sprouts added texture.
My companion adored the house Italian dressing. Though it was flecked with herbs, I was less fond of it. A bit of vinegar seemed to suffocate beneath a thick covering of unmixed olive oil. Points for making the dressing there, though. Perhaps next time, I'll try the house ranch.
Speaking of return visits, I have much work to do when it comes to demolishing the Bagel Place's sweet case. A wide variety of muffins was calling my name, but I just had to try the day's special, a marzipan bagel.
Knowing the place has Lithuanian owners, I had hoped that the eatery would have some Eastern European pastries. This was a quirky but delicious answer to my prayers. The sticky layer of baked almond paste was fantastic foil to the plain bagel. I couldn't help but devour it in minutes. And I won't wait long to do it again.
Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.