Growing up in New York, bagels were a staple on the breakfast menu, and sometimes lunch as well — basically, however many times you could get away with filling the doughy, carb-filled rotundness with cream cheese and downing it with a hot cup of coffee.
After moving back to Cairo, it took years of searching and surviving several disappointments until proper bagel places started opening up. Life made sense again, at least during breakfast.
Now, on many a morning I regain my sanity with an order from Jared’s Bagels.
When Amany told me she’d only had bagels once and hated them, I just couldn’t let it rest.
Our original plan that day was to check out Ma7ali, the new “it” deli in Maadi, after several failed attempts to coordinate a suitable time. It was a sunny Monday, we were both excited, and Amany drove all the way from October 6 City. Just as she was pulling up under my house, I checked their Facebook page to get the exact address — only to see that they were closed. Closed on Mondays, there it was in glaring red letters. No one knows why.
I got in the car and broke the news to Amany, promising to make it up to her with a great breakfast alternative.
“So, Amany, how about some bagels and coffee? Huh? There’s this great place just a street away.”
I live very close to Jared’s Bagels, my favorite food spot in the neighborhood. They know me by name and have my order memorized. The delivery boys have had the misfortune of seeing me in an array of pajamas topped with disheveled morning hair. It gets really awkward when they see me in normal human form when I go pick up the order from the shop, but I choose to act like this is totally ordinary.
But Amany was not nearly as excited as I wanted her to be.
“I hate bagels,” she said. “I tried them once and got sick.”
Imagine my shock. “Amany, no!”
She told me the story about trying bagels for the first time this past summer on a trip to the United States.
“It was Eid and I wanted to start my day with round baked goods,” she said, but she didn’t like the taste, and it made her sick.
“But how?” My journalistic instincts kicked in. “Where did you have it? Do you hate cheese? Bread? What kind if bagel was it? Was it toasted? What was on it?”
Turns out it was an omelet bagel and I decided the eggs were the problem. They had to be.
I may have been a bit pushy.
“No, let’s try again, these are really good. Toasted with cream cheese is the way to go. I swear you’ll love it. Let’s just try.”
I wasn’t about to give up.
“Oh, and they have great coffee!”
And that did it.
She caved and drove us to Jared’s, where the floor-to-ceiling glass storefront lets in a flood of sunlight during the day, enhanced by the bright yellow walls of the small interior, setting the mood for a cozy breakfast or brunch.
The handful of square brown wooden chairs and tables give the space a diner-like feel. It doesn’t get too crowded save for the flow of customers getting their food to go, which makes it dependable enough for an impulse daytime gathering with friends.
A counter and a small open kitchen take up half of the space, and it’s reassuring to be able to see the food being prepared. They’re quite prompt with getting the food out, and their delivery time is one of the fastest I’ve seen.
The menu is pretty straight forward, with several freshly baked bagel options like plain, sesame, multi-grain, whole wheat, onion, blueberry, cinnamon and chocolate. Toppings range from the basic cream cheese or veggie cream cheese, honey and butter, Nutella or to more elaborate bagel sandwiches with variations of omelets, smoked turkey, smoked salmon, cheddar and veggies.
We steered away from the egg options. I usually end up with a toasted sesame bagel with extra cream cheese, and sometimes change it up with whole wheat or multi-grain. I’m never disappointed with the taste, freshness, and crispy doughy-ness of the toasted bagel.
Amany went for an even safer choice of a plain bagel with cream cheese, topped off with salami. But not before she grilled Jared’s friendly waiter about the potential eggy-ness of the end result. She was assured that no eggs would be allowed anywhere near her plate.
I held my breath as she took the first bite and decided that, bagels, in fact, were not the enemy. She says hers was “smooth, fresh and light.”
We’d both ordered their specialty coffee, which is marked as Colombian and is always fresh out of the pot, filling the air with a spicy, aromatic smell. It also comes with free refills, which is one of life’s small blessings.
“The free refill Colombian coffee was the highlight of this sunny Maadi morning,” says Amany, who swore she smelled spices and ginger in this mysterious blend. We asked the waitress where their coffee comes from, and turns out its mixed special for them and comes in a glass container from somewhere far, far away. She even let us smell it … for a while, but she took it away. I think we might have looked a bit creepy.
To indulge our sweet tooth, we opted for a mini cheese cake cup, which I liked for of its subtle sweetness, though Amany thought it wasn’t moist enough. They also serve muffins, cookies, granola snacks and waffles on a stick (why is that not more of a thing?).
We were a bit obsessed with the bagel experience. That’s certainly what makes Jared’s special, but their breakfast menu also includes a variety of omelets with yummy potato sides, quiches, wraps and corn dogs. All of their prices are quite reasonable and we were surprised when the check didn’t amount to a little over LE80.
Because it’s part of an international chain that also includes Micah’s Grill, they do serve a selection of burgers, salads and chicken wings — but that’s a story for another day.
Jared’s Bagels is located on 13 Road 233 in Degla, Maadi and opens daily from 6:30 am to 10 pm. Tel: 012 2788 8702.