The Montreal Bagel War
By Matthew Karsten, ExpertVagabond.com
A fierce battle has been raging on in the Canadian city of Montreal for over 50 years. Master warriors hand-forge their weapons using wood-fire ovens, dough, water, honey and sesame seeds. Thousands of citizens line up each morning to arm themselves before heading to work. What started this never-ending war? The quest for the perfect bagel.
Montreal’s first bagel shop was opened in 1919 by a Jewish immigrant named Isadore Shlafman. It later became known as Fairmount Bagels. In 1957, an ex-employee created his own shop called St. Viateur Bagels. Thus began the Great Montreal Bagel War that still continues today. Which shop makes the best bagel? Everyone has their own opinion. While visiting Montreal I decided to drop into both of these famous shops to decide for myself.
First up was Fairmount Bagel. I strolled over around 10 p.m. to find a line of people out front! This was obviously a popular place. Inside I was shocked at the variety of bagels stacked in cases around me. But I went with my favorite, an “everything” bagel aka “All Dressed” with cream cheese. Hot right from the oven, the inside was soft and chewy while the outside was crisp and delicious.
Next it was time to walk down the block to St. Viateur Bagels. There was no line here… I was able to head right to the counter. Of course, my favorite “All Dressed” bagels were sold out, so I picked up a classic sesame one. While they won’t put cream cheese on it here, you can buy some separately and self-apply. This St. Viateur bagel was also soft & chewy with a crispy top layer.
Of the 2 shops, who wins? While the decision was tough, I declared my Fairmount bagel the best. It seemed a bit sweeter and more fresh. I’m happy to announce that I’ve joined the Fairmount Army in the Great Montreal Bagel War.