I’ve never actually eaten a bagel in New York City, but I’ve heard they are irrefutably the best in the world.
I’m thinking this when Franz and I went to McKinley Hill in Fort Bonifacio, around the area where Kat and Rayjay work. It’s here where the L.E.S. Bagels, the relatively new deli-slash-bakery by Chef Cuit Kaufman, can be found. The thing about the neighborhood is that the ambiance has an air that makes you want to dress in a suit while carrying a venti latte. It feels so upscale, and considering that I am in casual shirt and jeans, and my companions are in their corporate attire, I feel so underdressed.
Whatever. The bagels are great. Or more accurately, the bagels and cream cheeses are great.
Opened in the middle of last year, L.E.S. Bagels is yet another product of the team responsible for Nolita and Borough, two restaurants that take a cue from New York tables. In fact, L.E.S. stands for Lower East Side, a neighborhood in Manhattan where a number of American Jews reside. And incidentally, Chef Kaufman is Jewish.
In keeping with the DIY trend that allows customers to pick their ingredients, L.E.S. Bagels lets you mix-and-match among the store’s dozen kinds of bagels and cream cheese, with a bagel at PHP 40 and a bagel with cheese starting from PHP 140. If the choices prove daunting, the staff is knowlegeable to assist you on the popular combinations and what bagels work with which cheese.
If you’re still overwhelmed by the choices, there are available bagel combinations starting from PHP 60. The absolute, if a bit expensive, must-try is the L.E.S. Addiction, a pumpernickel bagel with Scallion Cream Cheese, Lox Cream Cheese, tomatoes, red onions, and capers.
The bagels are really good, with chewy interior, and the cheeses are savory. A bagel sandwich is surprisingly heavy on the stomach, which means even half of it can pass for a meal.
The cream cheeses are available for take-out so you can try them on the bread from your local panaderya. The container can be small (PHP 120 up), medium (PHP 260 up), or large (PHP 420 up).
Aside from bagels, the menu also features sandwiches, salads, side dishes and sweets.
Unfortunately, we can only eat so much food for the night before our jobs beckon.
Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Hill,