Yesterday, Black Seed, the upstart bagel company that's been angling to make Montreal bagels a respected part of the New York diet, soft opened their second shop inside the former De Robertis space on First Avenue (the shop officially opens tomorrow). The cake and cannoli have been replaced with wood fired bagels, smoked salmon and cream cheeses, but owners Noah Bernamoff and Matt Kliegman have made good on assurances that they'd keep some of the De Robertis character alive. The shop's lovely mosaic floors, tile walls and mirrored back doors have been lovingly restored, while back tables were replaced by booths made of handsome blonde wood.
The front of the restaurant, which is much more streamlined than De Robertis' colorful and eclectic collection of neon signage and designer cakes, is where most of the magic happens. Like the original, version 2.0 will boil and bake up the smaller bagels, which can be eaten as is, with one of their house-made spreads—the pickled belly lox is excellent—or made into a delectable sandwich. Many of the familiars (cold smoked salmon, beet lox, smoked trout) are on the new menu, but this larger location gives them more potential for sandwich experimentation.
First and foremost, it means breakfast sandwiches—they were doing them with baked eggs previously—like the Mile-End Smoked Bacon with two eggs and cheese (Bernamoff is behind the smoked meat shop of the same name). At $9.50, it's one of the more expensive options out there...until you get to the $11.50 version made with two eggs, smoked salmon, arugula, sauteed onions and creme fraiche. If you need cheaper, stick to their pizza bagels.
176 1st Avenue, website