Okay, so “war” might be an exaggeration. On a recent trip to Montreal with the boyfriend, we were dead set on trying Montreal bagels. We share a mutual love for bagels and once we arrived we realized we were in the midst of a great bagel debate. There were two top dogs in town; St. Viateur and Fairmount. What’s a bagel-loving couple to do? Eat both!
As a total side note, both bagel shops are located in Mile End, which is a really great neighborhood to spend some time in if you find yourself in Montreal. Besides bagels, Mile End has breweries, bookstores, record shops and fun, offbeat places to eat. We spent an afternoon just wandering around, eating and drinking.
First things first, for any NY bagel fans out there – don’t expect a NY bagel. They’re two different animals. Montreal-style bagels are a bit chewier and sweeter than their cousin in the States. They also tend to have more straightforward flavors, with the exception of the cumin bagel we found – who knew? Usually they’re covered in sesame or poppy seeds.
Though I’m used to New York-style bagels, I really did enjoy the bagels in Montreal.
One thing that is totally different from our bagel experiences at home, is that when you buy a bagel from a bagel shop in Montreal, it’s DIY. They sell you the bagels and there are containers of cream cheese, jams and peanut butter for sale, but they don’t make the bagel for you. When we first walked into St. Viateur, we were a little confused. The couple in front of us must have been confused too because they ended up huddled near the door ripping off pieces of bagel and dipping them into cream cheese.
Luckily, St. Viateur sells their bagels to places across the city and one of those places was right down the street. Fab! We purchased a few varieties; sesame, plain and “all dressed” (what we’d call “everything” in the States) and went on our merry bagel-loving way.
Conveniently enough, Fairmount is a few blocks away so off we went to gather yet another bag of bagels (yes, it was too many bagels for two people). Fairmount seemed to have more flavors than St. Viateur, including the rather outlandish cumin, but we stuck to sesame and “all dressed” for optimal comparison.
So whose bagel won out? St. Viateur’s! They toasted up a little nicer and had a better texture overall. The Fairmount bagels were a little too bread-like in texture. Though we did both love the seasonings, which included caraway, on Fairmount’s “all dressed” bagels best. It honestly was a close call.
And as for which is better, Montreal or NY? You’ll have to taste them for yourself! Though I can say, while I thoroughly enjoyed Montreal’s bagels, NY-style bagels have a special place in my heart.