Whenever see I pictures of food I would like to try on Instagram, Facebook or on other blogs I write down the name of the restaurant on my iPhone’s notes app filed under ‘restaurants to try.” Sometimes I get to try the place within a month sometimes longer. When I saw 1 picture of L.E.S. Bagels on Instagram I immediately dragged my friends to try it with me the very next day. That’s how much I love bagels.
I usually ask my cousin in the US to bring me a few bagels from Panera whenever she comes to Manila. Twice a couple of really nice friends brought me a dozen of my most favorite pumpernickel bagels from Ess-a-Bagel in New York. Those lasted a long time in the freezer as I ate it slowly just to prolong the life of accessible good bagels. I was so excited that finally my dream of having good bagels in Manila was within reach.
L.E.S. Bagels (stands for Lower East Side in New York) is located at Upper McKinley Hill near C5. You can also pass through Fort and go to Venice Piazza and it’s just a few more minutes after that.
Just like in NY they had egg creams, a cold beverage made with milk, soda water and flavored syrup.
At first I was confused with their menu until it was explained to me. First choose a bagel and a cream cheese spread. “In a bagel” means they spread your chosen cream cheese thickly on the toasted bagel. I’ve seen pictures and it’s really absurdly thick. A better way, imho, is to choose a container of spread and buy the bagels separately. A small container is enough for 3-4 bagels.
I ordered lox (smoked salmon) but they were out of stock that day.
They had a wide array of savory and sweet cream cheese spreads to choose from.
On the counter were an assortment of sweets. These are the actual desserts they served. In the US I’m used to the food not covered but here I wanted to ask for ones they had in stock kept under the counter.
A knish is a bread like pastry with filling inside.
Four of us decided to share a black Russian (pumpernickel with sesame seeds) and an everything bagel with two spreads – garlic onion and bacon cheddar.
In terms of texture I give it an A. When warm the bagels were crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside just like NY bagels. I liked the size too since it wasn’t as huge as normal American bagels. These were just a tad bigger than donuts.
The everything bagel was salty and didn’t need much spread. It was good even eaten alone. On the other there was barely any rye flavor to the pumpernickel bagel. I was expecting a little tang that comes with rye or pumpernickel bread. This tasted just like an ordinary bagel. I wish they would add more rye flour. On a side note the most authentic pumpernickel bread that I’ve tried in Manila can be bought at S & R.
Both cream cheese spreads were very good. We managed to finish only about half of each container. I brought home the rest of the spread and bought more bagels to store in my freezer. Yes it passed my bagel test. So far these are the best bagels I’ve eaten in Manila.
Since I wasn’t sure about the food I just bought one bagel sandwich to share and if it was good we can always order more. I chose my favorite NY deli sandwich – The Reuben – made with thinly sliced corned beef, sauerkraut, thousand island dressing and melted Swiss cheese. Well that’s what a Reuben should contain.
They didn’t have enough beef pastrami (hmm not corned beef) so we just told them to add ham.
Even though it wasn’t truly an authentic Reuben I enjoyed the sandwich. The filling was quite generous with the filling and it should be since this sandwich cost a pretty peso.
The espresso brownie topped with hazelnuts looked really good unfortunately it was too fudgy for me. It tasted almost like raw batter barely holding it’s shape. I want my brownie somewhere in between a cakey and a fudgy brownie.
I had lunch there last Tuesday, the day it rained hard and caused horrendous traffic that put Manila in a standstill. We left S & R at exactly 5:00 pm and after dropping off two friends in Valle Verde and Shaw I finally arrived in Greenhills after 3.5 hours. I was so hungry I immediately toasted a cinnamon raisin bagel and slathered Ovomaltine crunchy cream on it for a satisfying high carb reward.
The other day I went back to L.E.S. and bought some goodies for my friend’s son who’s in the hospital for Dengue. Too bad he can’t eat the dark colored cookies.
Filipinos are historically not fond of dense bagels that’s why there are hardly any good bagels in Manila let alone a whole shop dedicated to bagels. It’s either you like bagels or you don’t. If you base your dislike on the bagels currently found in some supermarkets and bakeries then I suggest you try the bagels at L.E.S. and it will mostly likely change your mind.
Now that the food gods have answered my prayers for bagels now I’m waiting for good scones, biscuits, cornbread and COOKIES. Enough macarons, cronuts and donuts! 😀
L.E.S Bagels, New York Deli + Bakery
Upper McKinley Rd, Tuscany, McKinley Hill
Sunday to Tuesday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Wednesday to Saturday 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.