by Alice Levitt
660 Pine Street, Burlington, 540-0474
For this native of the New York City suburbs, the world is finally right again now that I have a chewy artisan bagel I can rely on. My colleagues agreed when they reviewed Burlington's rounded-bread scene.
I don't usually care for cream cheese, but I'll even go for that when there are options such as pickled jalapeño or local strawberry made with Green Mountain Farms dairy.
But finally, it was time to try the more substantial fare at Pine Street's pride.
First on the agenda: Order a Tab. Co-owner Roy Feldman told me that he and his daughter, Maddy, live on the stuff. Back in the 1980s when he owned Burlington Bagel Bakery, Feldman hosted a regular "Tab Hour" when the sodas were sold on tap for a penny.
As far as diet sodas go, I did find it more convincing than diet Coke or Pepsi, but I don't think I'm going to make a habit of it.
I felt differently about Mother Feldman's matzo ball soup. Since Sadie Katz Delicatessen closed two years ago, I've had a kneidlach-shaped hole in my heart.
The ones in this broth are ideally tender, along with nice chunks of Misty Knoll Farms chicken. I tried Feldman's soup about a month ago and was disappointed by a bland base, but this time, the dill-flecked broth had just enough salt to flavor it without overwhelming. Chunky carrots, onions and celery melted in my mouth just as they should.
It was so filling, I had to save the house salad (above right) for later. It included a vivid mix of cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, onions and apples over crisp, leafy greens. I wasn't thrilled with my choice of honey-poppy seed dressing, though. It left a raw onion taste in my mouth for the rest of the day.
The fresh ingredients in the bagel sandwiches were just as impressive as those in the salad.
I would be proud to wear the jewel-like lettuce on the turkey sandwich to a formal event. Instead, I ate it. The nitrate- and nitrite-free McKenzie of Vermont turkey was delicious, even if it's no longer local. Thin slices of cheddar admirably balanced the sweet cranberry mayo and crunchy apple slices. If I do say so myself, I made a fine choice putting it all on top of a whole wheat bagel. The light sweetness thereof complemented the ingredients more than a more savory bagel would have.
I tried one of those, too: the Everything bagel that held my hummus sandwich.
The housemade chickpea spread shared a texture with Play-Doh. But on a chewy bagel where the hummus was likely to squeeze out, this turned out to be a stroke of genius: No muss, no fuss, just eat off the chunk that's hanging out.
The herbaceous spread made a delicious set with ultra-thinly sliced green pepper, carrot, tomato and cucumber. On top of it all, a tall nest of sprouts sat like the hair on the sandwich's head. It was thoroughly refreshing and the perfect sandwich for that hot day. Thanks, Feldman's, for similarly refreshing the South End dining scene.
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.