Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Restaurant 34: Murray's Bagels

RESTAURANT: Murray’s Bagels
LOCATION: 500 6th Avenue
DATE: June 4, 2005
FOOD: Multigrain Bagel with Low-Fat Scallion Cream Cheese
BEVERAGE: Tropicana Orange Juice
PRICE: $5.00

The argument over who makes the best New York bagel is ultimately a discussion of Promethean proportions. Like debating with the World Bank about whether it is economically sound to assist the world’s poor, there is no way universal agreement will ever be reached on the Five Borough’s favorite holed round. So, even as my voice becomes lost in the sea of opinion, I’ll put forward a more moderate line of reasoning: Murray’s Bagels serves up an outstanding, if not the best, bagel in the city.

Murray’s bagels are serious and dense. Biting into these, it’s easy to recognize a taste and composition that is distinctly New York. The crusty, chewy exterior is just as a bagel should be – firm enough to give your teeth a workout, but not so resistant as to become gummy. The interior is dense but not bready – thick enough to serve as a sandwich, but better equipped for cream cheese and lox then pastrami and corned beef. What’s even more enticing is the extensive variety of Murray’s bagels – standard sesame and poppyseed alongside health conscious multi-grain and whole wheat and even off the wall jalapeno and spinach. And unlike H & H Bagels, Murray’s actually puts cream cheese directly on the bagel for you. Luckily, the cream cheese isn’t applied in artery clogging cakes as at national chains Einstein’s and Chesapeake Bagels; instead its spread so that it maintains its proper place in the food hierarchy. If you want to taste only cream cheese, buy a tub of Philadelphia and grab a spoon. But if you want to eat a BAGEL with cream cheese, Murray’s has the proportions all figured out.

The case of cream cheese, spreads, and salads displayed at Murray’s is a selection in line with Baskin Robbins 32 flavors. The scallion is delicious, the pieces of green onion large, prominent, and sharp, instead of the pureed confusion of many a chive cream cheese. Libby’s choice of the honey raisin walnut, however, made me envious, the three components all announcing themselves in a sweet, but not too sweet, blend. It is a perfect breakfast cream cheese, containing the crunch/sugar contrast of raisin brand or cinnamon oatmeal. And since most of the cream cheeses come in both regular and low fat varieties, Murray’s caters to the New Yorker’s awareness of fitness as well. All in all, Murray’s exemplifies why this city is known for its bagels. The debate over bagel supremacy will rage on – but Murray’s asserts a claim for the top spot with the quiet confidence that comes from the secure knowledge of having an excellent product.

RATING: 8.0/10

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