The first time I went to New York, back in 2005, our hotel had the best breakfast, the kind you can only dream about. It was an extensive buffet spread, but only two options mattered to vegetarian me: doughnuts and bagels. I’m not sure if I’d ever considered those items to be breakfast food before, so it was quite the revelation. Of course, I very much consider them breakfast-appropriate now, and having a proper New York bagel was high on my culinary wish list on this trip. My pre-trip research had indicated that the Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee Company chain offered vegan bagels with a few vegan cream cheese options, so I knew this was the place for me.
We went twice. The first time I got the salt bagel and the second time I went for everything, and both times I got plain tofu cream cheese (the other vegan options were tofu and scallion (spring onion for us Brits), and tofu and vegetable (spring onion and carrot). Look how generous the cream cheese serving is!
Truthfully, I found the cream cheese a little on the sweet side, though my companions did not have similar complaints so it’s probably just personal preference. The everything bagel was a nice way to balance out the sweetness – the salt bagel wasn’t quite as salty as I would have liked. But sweetness aside, these were very good bagels. The bread was lovely and it was an extremely hearty breakfast (so hearty it affected our lunch plans afterwards). We went to two different locations: Greenwich Village and Chelsea. Both had the same setup, whereby you order your bagels at the first counter, then take your receipt to the second counter to collect your food, place your drinks order, and pay. Both locations were extremely popular but had only a few tables and they were quite cramped, which was a bit of a shame, but we managed to get seated every time.
These bagels were our breakfast highlight, though we did try a couple of other places which don’t really warrant their own post so I’ll throw them in here. Gregory’s Coffee is another chain. It was similar to the big international chains, with its hot drinks and several food options, including a few different vegan ones. Dr HH and I both tried the vegan deluxe, which was a good savoury croissant filled with cheese, a Just Egg, and one small Beyond Sausage patty (not what a Brit would recognise as a Beyond Meat sausage). Most of the flavour was in that patty, and because there was just one it was a concentrated flavour burst and the rest was a bit bland. More to the point though, it was about $15 and it was tiny, half the size of a regular croissant, and with the exchange rate that is a very unfavourable cost. It was nowhere near as good as the UK Starbucks vegan breakfast options. There was a branch of Gregory’s Coffee so close to our hotel that we’d originally expected to go more than once, but we didn’t return. Mother HH got a meaty option and was similarly unimpressed, so it’s not even a crowd pleaser if you’re trying to placate omnivorous companions.
We fared better with the bakery section at Whole Foods. As well as packets of four vegan croissants to take away, they also had this vegan oatmeal and walnut scone. It wasn’t a British scone, but it was very good – a bit cakier than a British scone, and I loved the sugary crusting. It was a really tasty breakfast, and quite filling too. We got a selection of pastries and some takeaway hot drinks with oat milk to enjoy across the road in Bryant Park, and it was really enjoyable, so much so that we did this twice.
The park had loads of tables and chairs out, and we were a bit unsure as to whether they were only for patrons of a specific coffee stand in the square, but the evidence (other people’s coffee cups) suggested not, so we settled in. It was a nice spot for people watching and admiring the library, and really got us in the mood for another day of adventuring!