An everything bagel with the works at Bagel Oven. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
By SUSAN ERICSON
Occasionally, lunchtime decisions can be complicated, especially in Red Bank, where there are so many options.
Keeping it simple after a morning of too many decisions, PieHole heads to Bagel Oven on Monmouth Street, where the menu is so limited that lunch becomes a no-brainer.
Brittany Grob explains the difference between a bialy (in her hand) and a flat, seen below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
Singular in determination, Bagel Oven has been in business since still-partners Frank Grob and Dean Ross opened it in 1979. The staff still prepares bagels in the original method, with the same recipe too, Grob’s daughter, Brittany Grob tells us.
“I’ve been working here since I’m 15, and I’m 30 now,” she says. She notes another employee has worked here for 20 years. Ross, who now also owns the Doc Shoppe shoe store on Broad Street, met his wife, Sharyn, when she came in to buy bagels, he tells us. Another customer’s family mentioned the shop in his obituary as one of his favorite places.
As deeply rooted in Red Bank as the shop is, its bagels are as close to New York-style bagel as you can get in New Jersey. They’re made in an old-fashioned barrel mixer, and boiled before they’re baked. Newer mixers tend to whip the dough, changing the consistency and making a lighter, fluffier product.
We order an everything bagel “all the way,” and Grob laughs, asking if we’re from New York (answer: yes). She explains that in Red Bank, customers usually ask for the “works,” or will just ask for a bagel with everything on it. Whatever you call it, the traditional bagel comes with cream cheese, nova lox, onions, capers, and tomato slices.
Our bagel ($7.50) is as expected: crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Generous amounts of cream cheese and silky slices of slightly salty lox are layered with paper-thin slivers of sweet onion and plenty of capers. It is soul-satisfyingly good.
“A lot of people like our bialies,” Grob says, adding, “A bialy is more like an English muffin than a bagel.” Also round, the bialy is more chew, less crunch and has a lovely onion component speckling the top.
Bagel Oven also offers flats, which are “basically for someone who likes the crust more than all the dough,” says Grob. “We take a regular bagel and flatten it.” The flats come in the same 15 varieties as the regular bagels.
Bagel Oven’s flats are also available at Rook Coffee Roasters.
Bagel Oven is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and closes at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The store is a no-frills, no seating shop, and takes cash only.