Used to be great bagel shops in Philly were hard to come by. Not anymore. Along with dedicated bagelries like Knead, Philly Style, Spread and the Rittenhouse and Grad Hospital offshoots of South Street Bagels, lots of artisan bakeries now offer solid renditions of the morning favorite.
The city’s bagel renaissance gets another boost this summer with The Bagel Place, a cafe and sandwich shop at 404 Queen St. on Fabric Row in Queen Village.
“Everyone has their own criteria for what makes a perfect bagel,” said proprietor Ringo Roseman, a 36-year-old World Cafe Live veteran and former Philly bartender who’s using his savings to open his first solo venture. “I wanted to make the bagel and the bagel shop I’ve always wanted.”
To do that, he’s enlisted longtime friend and former Good Dog/Industry Bar pastry chef Leo Rahill as head baker. After much R&D, the pair came up with a recipe that produces bagels with “a good crust and a nice chew,” made via the traditional boil-and-bake method. There’s honey in the mix, and the goal is to “release the natural flavor” of the dough.
Offerings include 22 different bagel flavors — standards like everything and sesame but also rosemary-cracked pepper and “french toast” — plus 16 spreads, from sour pickle to honey walnut. Bagels are available single ($1.50) or by the dozen ($15) and there are also Jewish deli classics like smoked salmon and sable, egg salad, rugelach, babka and matzoh ball soup.
An assortment of breakfast and lunch sandwiches will be available to order from the counter, for take-home or dine-in. Sandwiches are something of an obsession for Roseman.
“At the end of a long day, I would come home at 3 a.m. and make myself a delicious sandwich,” he explained. “It would make me really happy. I kept saying to myself, ‘Man, if I could just make sandwiches for people all day…’”
His signature smoked beet reuben with garlic-dill sauerkraut ($8) is a favorite on the current menu, as is the croque madame, the Monte Cristo with a fried egg on top that’s rarely seen on a bagel — for good reason. “Yeah, that’s going to be messy,” he admitted. “Deliciously messy.”
Around 30 seats fill the windowed corner space, which Roseman and Rahill designed together and is in the ground floor of a recently-renovated building owned by the same family for three generations — “I think the grandfather had a market here,” Roseman said. White subway tile and black accents make for a classic look, like a smaller Famous 4th Street (located around four blocks north), with dark wood tabletops and a bench along the wall.
Hours will be 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week, and Roseman is hoping The Bagel Place will become a fixture in the neighborhood.
“The community has been awesome through the whole process,” he said. “I really want this to be a place where community finds a home.” Plans call for decorating with art from local creators, and eventually funnelling a portion of his proceeds to local charities. “My wife works with kids with special needs, so that’s a cause important to us,” Roseman noted.
A sign in the window says “Opening Spring 2017,” and even if he misses the target by a few days, Roseman fully expects The Bagel Place to be open and serving by the last week of June.
Do note: Even before the official launch, he and Rahill will be baking test batches, so if you’re in the area late June, take the opportunity to swing by for a sample.