Bagels. I don’t think I have met a single person on this planet that doesn’t like the versatile baked genius found across the globe. From New York to Montreal to bloody Queen Street Maccas, the bagel has been a staple in the diet of many a foodie and now, Auckland has been enlightened to its own slice of bagel beauty in the humble complex of the City Works Depot. This depot, sitting atop its own end of Wellesley Street, provides an array of options in which to tuck your growlers into, Best Ugly bagels being one of them. As it looks over Sale St Bar, Best Ugly Bagels does a great job at delivering the simplest of ideas in a unique yet comfortable fashion.
Photo Cred // nomnompanda
Now I’m hoping we all know the name; what should be a household one at that, Al Brown. The genius kiwi entrepreneur and chef that brought us The Depot Oyster Bar and Eatery and the new Federal Delicatessen, has left his own little mark on another brainchild of his, Best Ugly Bagels. Having spent a couple of years in the great white north of Canada in the 80’s, Al was inspired by the Montreal take on a classic delicacy. Obviously he wanted to go on and try them out himself. Not dense like its New York cousins, the Montreal bagel is teasingly crispy on the outside yet soft and airy on the inner, the style of bagel churned out by Best Ugly day in and day out. Given a centerpiece block in CWD, the bustling hotspot greets us with an openly wafting scent of freshly baked bagels, and the simple interior of the cozy eatery, bursting with such a smell, is filled with the banter of hustling young professionals. Attracting a parcel of young students also, the bagel house profoundly mimics what I imagine to be an old style Montreal deli, with a bit of an Al Brown Kiwi twist.
Beauty in the making: Photo Cred // Trip Advisor
Offering your pick of a range of Bagels, all proudly following a Montreal style, I went for the T.A.B and Yodi. Following your order, the charming cashier proudly yells it in his eager American accent, to the appropriately attired staff in order to augment the classic Bagel house experience. The workers; sporting headbands and tee shirts; are seen baking bagels in house, a touch that adds to the industrial atmosphere reflecting the bustle of professional life around the CBD. The essentiality that brings Best Ugly to life comes in the total package as the scents, echoes and the appearance of the restaurant all combine in the elaboration of the style Al Brown is; from what I can see; looking to vaunt. Simple, classic, and fucking tasty. Turning your attention to the bagels (as you act waiter in carrying them to your seat) you notice the detail and subtle creativity in Al’s style of delivering such modest cuisine.
The T.A.B; you guessed it; is a Tomato, Avocado, and Basil piece of beauty that resting atop the “punched, rolled, boiled and fired” (to quote their website) bagel, is a common favourite to all Avocado lovers. This was my outstanding favourite, encompassing all aspects of the aforementioned simplicity in Best Ugly’s panache. Al’s creativity is shown in the Yodi, a corned beef and silverside beauty mixed with Swiss cheeses to make the greasiest of burgers jealous. The style of the Yodi in my opinion reflected the Carnegie Deli classic (Google it), boasting the American love for sliced meats. Al’s love of creativity and quality doesn’t stop there. As prices rise, the most incredible ingredients are used to aggrandize your knowledge of what to put on a bagel. Salmon, Capers, Red Onion, Cream cheese are all used in the King. Also remember to try their bagel of the month. This spot certainly looks beyond the basic cream cheese and jam we all hate to love (even though you can try organic jam or peanut butter on your bagel if you're feeling oh-so-not daring). The ingenuity does not stop there, as an arrangement of beverages greet you in the back corner of the trifling façade of the bagel house, carrying my favourite ginger ale, Gingerella, brought to you by All Good Organics, along with Karma Cola and other organic soft drinks (including a cheeky alcoholic cola). Havana coffee is offered in “black” or “white”; simple and cheap. Special mention goes to the quality of the bagels and I take my hats off to the bakers that rustle up these tasty pieces of splendor, and the organic or free-range ingredients used across the board are used effectively in Al’s mission to broaden our bagel horizons (mind the cheesiness).
Photo Cred // The Oyster Weekend
Having wandered through the doors of Best Ugly a number of times, I can't say it is difficult to get to with parking options available inside the CWD, and takeaway options available along with a take-home option of buying bagels in bulk that far outstrip your supermarket quality morsels which spend more time in your freezer than they do in your hands. This quick stop pop-up style eatery is something Auckland had been missing, and is now competing with Goodness Gracious in Eden Terrace and the like, but this mildly inexpensive option in the bagel-sphere is always a nice spot that everyone must visit; of which I’m assuming many of you have. If you haven’t, get you’re A into G and find the time to stumble through the doors of City Works Depots persistently characteristic bagel spot, Best Ugly. In my opinion, they have done a fantastic job. Opening up in Newmarket aswell very soon, you really don’t have an excuse not to have given them a try. Hit them up on Facebook, Instagram or on their website www.bestugly.co.nz, and don’t forget to check out Al Brown's other delis and eateries, I’ll be bringing you more on them later.
Title Image Cred // Neat Places