There was a bright spot on this cloudy, gray day – the grand opening of WHAT A BAGEL in downtown Nashua this morning! (Word of warning: I’m about to get REAL technical about bagels below. Keep reading!)
Where: WHAT A BAGEL, 24 East Hollis Street, Nashua, NH 03060
I’m not an expert in many things in life, but after living in NY for many years, I DO know a great bagel.
One reason NY bagels are a glorious, treasured institution (besides water chemistry and fermentation) is the production practice of boiling the bagel before being throwing it in the oven. This produces a chewy interior and unique flavor. Why doesn’t every bagel shop do this? The equipment is expensive, takes up space and requires more manual labor. Most commercial places brush their bagels with water and steam them inside the oven. The steam won’t reach the inside of the bagel, so while the crust will get that sought after shine, the inside won’t be chewy. Thus, the steamed bagel is inferior and not worth the carbs. Signs of a bad bagel: either fluffy or too squishy, bottom is darker than the rest (this is just basically a roll with a hole in it) or it smells like chemicals instead of slightly malty heaven.
But everyone in Nashua rejoice! WHAT A BAGEL serves authentic, boiled bagels – or as I call them, “true” bagels.
Located right off Main Street next to the Meineke Center on East Hollis Street, WHAT A BAGEL is a small, clean and bright shop. A few two-seater tables are available for sitting and one large group one.
Besides bagels, they also serve gourmet muffins, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, salads and coffee. But really, all I want to talk about is bagels.
These bagels are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside just like I like ’em. Another sign of a good bagel? It shouldn’t need toasting! I ate these fresh out of the bag. My favorite was the french toast with just a schmear of plain cream cheese. A crunchy, caramelized outside made it a slightly sweet treat. I recently had an ‘everything’ bagel at a chain store I won’t name (fine, it was Dunkin Donuts and honestly I hate their food). DD’s ‘everything’ bagel tasted like ‘nothing’. But WHAT A BAGEL’s ‘everything’ was full of flavor, to my relief.
As a self-respecting bagel lover, I also grabbed tubs of different flavored cream cheese spreads. They mix the cream cheese on site – another sign of a great mom and pop bagel shop. Be bold and try something different! I debated between a veggie or garlic and herb, but ended up trying a jalapeno spread that adds just enough heat to a plain bagel.
I will say I ordered a dozen mixed, and I DIDN’T GET AN ASIAGO! So next time, I’ll probably be more specific and ask for the bagels I want in the dozen. Also, having just opened their doors today they’re just getting the hang of things. (At least that’s my impression from when they were ringing me up) But that’s expected, and in time I know this will be a bustling, favorite local bagel shop for Nashua.
I get excited for a lot of new things, but I’m genuinely thrilled for these delicious, real NY style bagels. Welcome to Nashua, WHATA BAGEL!