For many years now, Peter Shelsky and Lewis Spada have been making the good folks of Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill very happy with their first-rate Jewish Deli and Appetizing shop on Court Street, serving sandwiches, salads, smoked fish, rugelach, an old-school sense of humor, the whole megillah... except for their own fresh-made bagels. So when Shelsky and company went to expand their operation south into Park Slope they decided to focus on that NYC staple, and brought on Matthew Tilden of SCRATCHbread to help with the boiling and baking. The result is Shelsky's Brooklyn Bagels, just opened near the 4th Ave and 9th Street F/G stop, and an instant destination breakfast spot.
The bagels at Shelsky's are regulation size (not newfangled jumbo, nor Montreal-petite), chewier and more dense than most, with a nice crisp shell. They are made right on site, and they are superb. All the varieties you would expect are here—Everything, Pumpernickel, Wheat, Egg, Cinnamon Raisin—with a couple of wild cards thrown in, like a Sichuan Pepper and, my own personal bagel-dream-come-true, a beautiful Cracked Pepper and Salt number. You can buy them by the dozen, or simply prepped with any number of schmear options. They also offer a large number of appealing breakfast- and lunch-sandwich fillings.
The menu draws upon the original Shelsky's for its raw materials of meats, salads, and various fishes, and sources other ingredients from the likes of Forest Pork Store in Ridgewood and Mazola Bakery in Carroll Gardens. I only had time and room in my stomach for two breakfast sandwiches on Sunday morning, and both were fantastic. The porky, hangover-busting Scrapple and Egg monster, with melted cheddar and maple syrup on a Pepper and Salt bagel, could put the traditional NYC BEC out of business. And the Brooklyn Native had an ocean of fish—smoked whitefish salad, Eastern Gaspé Nova, pickled herring—in between a thickly-seeded Poppy bagel.
There are so many more delicious-sounding things to eat here! Although, actually, you can't eat them here. There's no seating at Shelsky's Brooklyn Bagels, not even a bench or three outside, though there seems to be room for such modest accommodations, so hopefully that will change for all of us who don't live in the immediate vicinity. The space itself is utilitarian, and other than the custom tiled-floor at the entrance, there's no faux-retro styling going on.
Yesterday the line creeped out the door on occasion, but it moved fast, and the good humor and lively banter of the staff kept everyone in a good mood. That, and the promise of really, really great bagels.
Shelsky's Brooklyn Bagel is located at 453 Fourth Avenue at the corner on 10th Street in Park Slope. Hours are currently 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays, and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Closed Wednesdays. (718-855-8817; shelskys.com)