Cheese blintz topped with sour cream at the Glenwood Bakery Bagel Bar.
Cheese blintz topped with sour cream at the Glenwood Bakery Bagel Bar.

A bag full of bagels

By Frank Chemaly Time of article published Sep 11, 2021

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Glenwood Bakery Bagel Bar

Where: 45 Lilian Ngoyi Road, Morningside

Open: Daily 6.30am to 3pm

Call: 076 633 2993

SO the secret is revealed. Your diner has been outed.

The boss decided that since it was an open secret that I had been your diner for a number of years, we may as well kick down the closet door, so to speak.

The idea behind a secret diner was that the restaurants wouldn’t know who was reviewing their establishments and couldn’t give any special treatment. It was famed New York food critic Ruth Reichl, who always visited restaurants twice ‒ once in disguise. The difference was often huge, especially when she donned her best polyester, and played a redneck from rural Tennessee. Sadly, the IOS budget doesn’t stretch that far. Nor does my wardrobe.

But with my ugly mug already on the back of kitchen doors with instructions to look out for this guy, all that changes is that it will probably be on dartboards as well. But you’ll have a person to mail your tips and disasters to.

We’ve kept with the existing rating system (out of five) ‒ in these pandemic times I am inclined to be generous ‒ and added the bill so that, in these tough times, you can better assess value for money. When not stated, assume it is for two, and any unusual extras will be noted in brackets. Keep in mind that a seafood heavy meal will always pad the bill somewhat.

SALMON cream cheese and red onion bagel, and a bagel with roasted vegetables, olives and muhamarra.

Now a second secret is out ‒ well, another open secret. The Glenwood Bakery’s new Bagel Bar, under Ike’s Bookshop at the bottom of Windermere Road, is open. It’s something many in the suburb were looking forward to. No longer is there a 20-minute trek across the Berea to buy some superb sourdough bread, before 6.30 in the morning.

Set up as a bagel bar, it’s a simple but inviting space, much like the mothership in Bulwer Road, with a large shared table in the middle, and stools and counters looking out of the windows. There’s a display of breads, cakes, bagels, biscuits, etc, on one wall and deli fridges – with an array of sauces used in their bagel fillings, and a service counter where the greeting is friendly. Outside, herb boxes have just been started ‒ at the moment, it’s just a few sticks of rosemary and something that’s ready to shoot ‒ probably spinach. It’s a welcome addition to the neighbourhood.

We ordered cappuccinos and, before we’d finished perusing the menu, we had bumped into two people we knew, both stopping for a quick lunch on the go. It’s that sort of place.

We started by sharing a hearty bowl of soup of the day ‒ a spicy red lentil soup (R35 ‒ R45, with a toasted bagel). Although more of a curry soup than a spicy one, it was a hearty portion that went down well on a chilly day.

THE spicy lentil soup was a hearty treat on a chilly day.

Bagels come with all sorts of fillings that change regularly, or you can build your own. There’s roast tomato and fresh basil, or fresh tomatoes and basil pesto, while grilled aubergines, red peppers and herbs or roasted vegetables, red onions and capers sound good. There’s options with warm salt beef, either with sauerkraut or dill pickles and mustard, as well as selections with herrings or white anchovy fillets.

My friend went for the classic New York ‒ No. 1 one the menu ‒ a bagel with smoked salmon cream cheese and red onion (R55), which was generous and delicious. For me it was No. 15, with muhamarra, roasted vegetables, olives and rocket (R45). I wanted to try it because muhamarra was new to me. We Googled. It’s a spicy Syrian dip made from red peppers and walnuts, pomegranate molasses, and breadcrumbs, that is also popular in south western Turkey. This was great messy stuff you should try.

Cheese blintzes (R30) are another must. The famed rolled Russian Jewish pancakes, stuffed with soft cream cheese and topped with sour cream, were the highlight of lunch. We ordered one to share, but we wished we hadn’t, as we fought over the last lickings of the plate.

I took home the last slice of their baked ginger cheesecake, that had been disappearing before our eyes as we enjoyed our lunch. It was a great dessert that evening.

Food: 4

Service: 3 ½

Ambience: 4

Bill: R276 (including takeaway cheesecake and ciabatta loaf)

The Independent on Saturday

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