Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bagel Cafe features unique bagel recipes

Most bagel shops have little variety on the menu, but that's not so at the Bagel Cafe in Chester, where superb bagels aren't the only delectable items topping the bill.

"We added fryers, so we do have cheeseburgers now," owner Abby Hassan says of the changes he made to the Bagel Cafe when he took over three years ago. "We have chicken fingers, chicken cutlets, mozzarella sticks and all the other stuff that goes in the fryer."

For Hassan, who used to be in the larger-restaurant business before he left it because he "didn't like the hours," bagels are a large part of what he serves at his shop — but not the only thing.

"We carry Boar's Head meat, and some of our famous dishes are the California wrap and our balsamic chicken wrap with fresh mozzarella, tomato, lettuce, avocado and grilled balsamic chicken," Hassan says, "Everything is homemade on the premises."

They also make good soups at the Bagel Cafe.

"Our famous soups are the lentil soup and the chicken noodle," Hassan says, "And as for our cream soups, we have the cream of tomato and the cream of potato leeks."

The cafe has on the classic bagel treat: "Our bagel recipe is unique," Hassan says, "It's a very expensive recipe, and we use brown sugar and bake it with whole grain flour right in the bagels."

Some of their most popular bagels also have some interesting ingredients.

"One of our most famous bagels is the harvest grain," Hassan says, "It has whole grain flour with carrots and raisins."

Also on the list are pumpernickel, which is made with real pumpernickel flour, and the honey whole wheat, "made with real honey."

The Bagel Cafe has been open for 18 years, and it retains the same name since Hassan took over. But that doesn't mean that it has the same look.

"Well, when we took over, it was like any other place," Hassan says, waving his hand at the shop, "But We fixed the place up, made it a more cozy, homey place."

He started with a new paint job.

"It was like the ceiling was all funky looking, if that's the right word for it," Hassan says, "It was a red ceiling with orange walls, and it wasn't appealing. It wasn't relaxing."

Next, Hassan spread out the shop fixtures so that there would be more room to stand in line and sit.

"We added more chairs. And we cleaned it up completely. There are also new deli cases."

Also special about the Bagel Cafe is that if you can't go to the shop, it will come to you.

"We do a lot of catering for offices around us, and we do a lot of churches for bagels on Sundays," Hassan says, "A lot of offices request us for catering, and if it's breakfast, it's usually bagels with cream cheese. And if it's lunch, people usually prefer wraps. It's much lighter."

In addition to Hassan's love for cooking and making bagels, he has one other thing he finds delightful: "Chester is like a little bit more upper-class, but the people themselves are very down to earth. They know us by name, and we established a nice relationship with them."

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