Friday, February 6, 2009

Hyde Park's Bagel Breakthrough

posted by chicago pop

Hyde Park Scores Major Bagel Asset; Zimmer Provided Vision, Zalevski & Horvath Supplied Execution

Brain function requires quick calories. There are a lot of quick calories in bagels. University research communities achieve optimum brain function when fueled with lots of bagels.

The above syllogism establishes one of the foundational truths of University life. Behind the research grants, the search for donors, the battles over funding, it all boils down to bagels. If you've got them, you can go farther, faster.

If you don't have them, well, it's just harder. So we expect great things from the assembled minds of the University of Chicago now that Hyde Park-Kenwood has made its great bagel breakthrough: Zalevski & Horvath Market Cafe has decided to round out its delicatessen-ess by offering bagels on the weekends.

For those of you who remember last year's Great Hyde Park Bagel Hunt Part 1 and Part 2, it was then determined that there is a great, pent up reservoir of unmet demand for real bagels in the neighborhood, and it wasn't being met by any of the local options.

At the time, we concluded that the best of Hyde Park's limited selection was available at otherwise questionable Orly's. We weren't necessarily satisfied with this, it was just the best we could find. If you don't bother to get out and eat a real bagel once in a while, over a period of time you might be able to convince yourself that Orly's makes a real bagel.

But those days are over, we're happy to say. We've taste-tested a batch of Zalevski and Horvath Market Cafe's glorious, aromatic, chewy, and just plain delicious bagels today and we're still feeling the glow.

Clockwise from Upper Left: Plain, Poppy Seed, Onion, and Everything Bagels from Zalevski and Horvath Market Cafe

Z&H's Samuel Darrigrand tells us that University President Zimmer convinced him it was time to make the move when he observed that there was "a lot of bagel-shaped bread" in Hyde Park, but no bagels. After an initial stint distributing bagel-shaped bread from Orly's, Z&H decided to throw their own dough in the vat, and not long afterwards found a cook that really seems to know what they're doing.

Taste Test Results

This onion bagel just looks like a bagel. Its lumpy, has an irregular hole in the middle, and has a gnarled, wrinkled skin. It does not look like a fat little balloon or a doughnut. Like the other samples, this one was completely blitzed with flavoring. So far, so good.

Let's cut it open.

This bagel is hard to hold while you cut it, because it's so moist and floppy. The knife tears the bread inside, leaving a ragged edge, which is good, and indicates that this is not a muffin, not a biscuit, but a punchy, chewy bagel. And when both sides fall apart, a pleasant, sweet odor immediately rises from the dough. Perhaps a little honey in the water during boiling, in the Montreal tradition?

Only on toasting does the exterior of the Z&H bagel crispen, and only moderately, while the interior retains its moist density. The sweetness first detected on slicing the bagel survived the toasting and comes through in the mouth.

You Know You Want This.

Good news is hard to find these days. So we'll take what we can get, and this is pretty solid. So we salute the historic synergy activated by Zimmer and carried out by the gang at Z&H, who are doing their part to bring the delicatessen back to the city where it belongs.


Anonymous said...

There goes my low carb diet. Thanks guys!

Gordon said...

I'm new here- what is the street address where I can get these bagels. I've always hated what I call "bread toruses" posing as bagels, so this is big news.

ScottM said...

Looks like a good size bagel. I wish they'd open up earlier than 8am on Sunday's though.

I also think Orly's has changed the bagel maker lately, so I'm not sure the quality is quite the same as before.

chicago pop said...


You can find out all about Zalevski and Horvath here.

Richard Gill said...

It will be no small deed to match the bagels sold on Dempster Street. But if Z&H even comes close, we can chalk up one big evolutionary step in attaining "Hyde Park Progress."

One plain and one poppy seed, please.

eyeshare said...

Treasure Island has really good bagels as well. I believe TI gets their bagels from New York bagels. TI is of course open every day.

And wow! how about the TI remodeling? I think it looks terrific.

Anonymous said...

TI does look very nice, especially the inside! Opening up that wall before produce was brilliant and I love the new locations for the bakery, fish, etc. They've replaced a yucky early 1990s era store with one that fits beautifully in the 21st Century and improved it immensely.

I'm eager to see what they do with the lower level. The old video store was opened up the other day and folks seemed to be doing some work in there. Maybe a new liquor department location?

Anutas said...

Why doesn't Treasure Island just keep their lender's bagels in the bags instead of putting them out? Won't they stay fresher that way? :P

Richard Gill said...

This afternoon, Feb. 10, I took a look at TI's lower level. The former liquor department has been cleaned up, has new flooring and new shelves. So, that space will soon be used for something. A bagel-boiling vat, maybe?

Construction materials were being stacked in the old post office, and it looked like there might've been activity in the old A/V room.

It appears that the main level, except the cafe, is nearly completed.

I wonder what that new indent in the wall in the breezeway is for. Cart storage?

Re Lender's: Years ago, when Lender's located their plant in Mattoon, it created quite a stir in that downstate community. Hundreds of people were suddenly employed, making a product as foreign to them as roasted yak fat.

chicago pop said...

I thought roasted yak fat was the secret ingredient of Toronto-style bagels.

Richard Gill said...

Toronto-style bagel. Is that like a Winnipeg-style all-beef hot dog, or Halifax deep dish pizza?

chicago pop said...

I just did a private taste test of Treasure Island's bagels.

They don't compare to Z&H.