After a nasty bout of sciatica, I don’t do standing in queues.
The one at this new Bross Bagels, which also has outlets on Leith Walk, Portobello High Street and Queensferry Street, snaked out the door and past Gulliver’s Toy Shop (at least people could admire the festive Beanie Boo display while waiting).
However, using a special preemptive ninja pincer strike movement, which I’ve mastered after nearly 700 consecutive restaurant reviews, we were at the right end of the lunchtime line. Boom!
The pressure though, with lots of hungry hipster beaks behind us, was intense. Who knows what we ordered from the board, which includes Breakfast, Vegan Breakfast, Hot Nosh in a Bagel, Cold Nosh in a Bagel, among other sub-sections.
Thankfully, the young woman behind the counter was so efficient. If there is a zombie apocalypse, you’d want her in charge of your gang of survivors.
She gave us a number. When it’s shouted out, you collect. We waited at the back of the rather low-fi space, on a yellow, orange and magenta tiled bench that was inspired, like the rest of the venue, by Villa Maria Metro Station in Montreal – owner Larah Bross’s hometown.
That was us. We unpacked our gold rings. The winner, rated according to how silent its owner was, had to be the Cluster Pluck (£6), created with his choice of jalapeno and cheese bagel.
There were turkey slices, salami, coleslaw, melted smoked applewood cheese, crispy onions and rock sauce. You almost had to unhinge your jaw, snake-like, to eat it.
I enjoyed our only cold bagel, The Brunchfield (£6). This featured a sweet and sesame seed sprinkled carrying case, filled with a wad of cream cheese, hot smoked salmon, crisp capers, cucumber and lamb’s lettuce. It was smashing, though I’m glad I wasn’t eating it on a date, since I managed to get cheese lodged in my left nostril.
That certainly didn’t make me an honorary member of the Hot Chick Club (£6.50) though I enjoyed its namesake. It was a classic combination of grilled chicken breast, melted Swiss cheese, a couple of struts of streaky bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato and mayo.
Our Reu-Bross (£5.75) had a big old fibrous hunk of salt beef in there, as well as more melted Swiss cheese, a nest of mildly tangy sauerkraut, crispy onions and Russian dressing.
After all those loaded options, I would be slightly disappointed if I’d been the one to order the Brossarita Pizza Bagel (£3 for one side, or our choice of £4.50 for two). Its toasted innards had been topped with marinara sauce and melted gratings of mozzarella.
Nice enough, and maybe a good option for fussy children or those who eat like newborn hummingbirds.
We crumpled up our wrappers and put our packets into the right recycling bins, then decamped to 181 Delicatessen. It’s a few doors along, and has just been announced as a finalist in the Guild of Fine Food Shop of the Year 2020.
Squeeze past the cheese counter and you’ll find a few small tables at the rear of the space.
Along with flat whites (£2.75 each and not that great, but Bruntsfield is one of coffee supremo Artisan Roast’s original territories, so the standards are higher) we went for the sugared puffball that is a Baba Budan doughnut (£3.50) filled with creamy malted chocolate.
We also had a tea-loaf-ish spiced Shetland hufsie cake (£2.95), the best millionaire’s shortbread in town (£2.50), with chocolate that had solidified in Hokusai waves and a thick layer of golden caramel, and a chocolate hazelnut aragostine (£1.50), with chocolate hazelnut filling under its pastry carapace.
More! As my own physio, the cakes are an unorthodox prescription.
I’m planning on thickening up my legs to bolster that sciatic nerve.
All the better to stand in the queue, waiting for the most magnificent Bross Bagels Cluster Pluck.