My husband and I first visited on a Saturday. My initial thought was that bagels were soon going to be banned forever in Los Angeles -- how else to explain the long line of customers patiently waiting for their chance to order bagels? Every table was taken, either by those who had their food, or those waiting patiently with a number. The ambiance was loud, chatty and kid-filled. "Brooklynized in Beverly Hills." a sign proclaimed on one wall. An ever changing series of gorgeous food pictures kept our spirits up as we waited in line. One moment we saw a delicious looking tuna melt on a bagel, at another moment, a "pizza" (also on a bagel).
As we wound our way slowly but surely to the Promised Land, we saw a highly scientific-looking machine of gleaming steel canisters and plastic tubing on the right. I felt as though we had been teleported to an exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry. It was the "Brooklynizer."
Let me explain the concept, as I understand it from the interview that I heard on "The Splendid Table." Click here to go to that interview. Owner Steve Fassberg believes that attempts to make bagels outside of the New York area fail because the water is not the same. Before you scoff, he says that water is 50% of the bagel recipe. Anyway, the Original Brookyn Water Bagel Company got the rights to a special technology that recreates the mineral content of Brooklyn tap water. Minus the icky stuff like chlorine, for instance. All the water is "Brooklynized," including the seltzer and the water used to make coffee and iced coffee. "Brooklyn Water" is also sold in blue bottles.
As we were admiring the Brooklynizer, my husband spotted an older couple getting up and snagged their table. "Is it worth it?" I asked, referring to the wait.
"You'll like it," the woman smiled. "If you put the time in, you might as well like it."
Once I was seated at a table, I happily pulled out the weekend Financial Times. I was in the midst of reading an update on Japan when I heard someone exclaim "Oh, I love the Financial Times! Isn't it the best?" I looked up and discovered a soul mate. We chatted.
In between reading articles, I watched the parade of people passing by me in the line. Although a few women looked like they'd just tumbled into sweat pants and gym shoes, most looked as though they had just come from a "What the Well Groomed Person Wears About Town on a Saturday" photo shoot. I especially enjoyed the excellent selection of cute flats and boots. I felt a bit like I was on the Upper West Side of New York.
I really like that this place feels as though you're having a communal experience with other people. I also really like the New York style service -- a guy came around and asked "How's everything?"
As our neighbor (the guy sitting next to us) finished his meal, a guy in the line asked him "How's the food? Is it good?"
"Yes," he said.
And what do I think about it? The bagels are good. They're not the all-time best (that would be H&H bagels in New York), but they are good. The Nova spread was a little tart for my taste and could have been creamier. I have to give my honest opinion, but obviously these are quibbles.
I couldn't absorb everything because it was a bit of a hectic atmosphere. In my next post I'll write about a subsequent weekday visit.
I recommend parking at the 2 hours free lot on Beverly Drive, just to the north and on this side (the east side) of the street.