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The Bagel Burger Bombs - The Local East Village Blog - NYTimes.com


The Bagel Burger Bombs


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The Bagel BurgerNoah Fecks The bagel burger at Tompkins Square Bagels did not get a warm reception from our local expert.

When we got wind of the bagel burger at Tompkins Square Bagels, we knew just the person to try it. So we called Josh “Mr. Cutlets” Ozersky, the East Villager who wrote “The Hamburger: A History.” Would the bagel burger replace the one at Veselka as his favorite? Or would it be too sacrilegious for a burger purist?

The Bagel Burger at Tompkins Square Bagels has the distinction of combining the worst hamburger in the East Village with one of the most disappointing bagels; but that’s not why I hate it so much. At first, it struck me that the clownishly oversized bagels, as puffy and bloated as parade floats, would actually serve a burger well.

A traditional bagel, which is what I had hoped for, would have been far too dense and chewy for any form of ground beef: a single bite would have sent the meat squishing out to the sides, or swallowed up all its juices entirely.

But one of these augmented, airy confections might be OK. And so they might have been, had not the place chosen to cheap out and serve a gray, pasty puck of meat that woudn’t look out of place in a convenience store refrigerator. Thin as a cat’s ear, without even a hint of taste or moisture, this thing would have been overwhelmed by a slice of wonder bread.

Naturally, since neither the meat nor the bagel taste like anything, no harm is done; it’s just a piece of protein on two tasteless carb doughnuts. But when I think how long you have to wait in line, and how much better even the terrible burger at my corner bodega is, it strikes me as little more than a poor joke.

It’s not Tompkins Square Bagels’ fault that its bagels are bad. The owner is apparently not old-school enough to know a good one, and I have no doubt that his 20-something clientele, all recently arrived from Secaucus and points west, likes their bagels big and soft. But this is New York. You are 500 feet from the Brindle Room and two blocks from Black Market Burger. If you are going to create a freakish novelty sandwich, the least you could do is to try to make it good.

Actually, I suppose I’m wrong about that. The bagel burger is the least you could do; the absolute bottom of the burger barrel. Remind me never to eat it, or think of it, again.