Restaurant Review: The Whole Bagel

It’s rather fabulous when you discover a way to make your favourite thing even better. My love affair with smoked salmon and cream cheese started with my first job, working for a wedding caterer, where I had unrestricted access to a whole lot of canapés – well, I say unrestricted, but perhaps I was supposed to restrict myself. No matter.

Quite a few years on, and still in love with bright pink fish, I was sauntering home through the centre of Bath with the intention of picking up lunch for me and Mike, when I passed a tiny orange shop on Upper Borough Walls and impulsively popped my head in. It turned out to be crammed (it was a very tiny shop indeed) with bagels and tempting fillings, and since I’d never tried a bagel before, and was keen to remedy this gap in my foodie experience, I decided to grab a Classic Smoked Salmon, with cream cheese, fresh lemon juice and cracked black pepper.

It would be rather dramatic of me to say that it was a life-changing experience, but it was certainly a mouth-wateringly fabulous one. The combination of fresh bagels, plain but with a chewy crust and a fluffy inside, set off the richness of the smoked salmon and the cream cheese was thick and, well, creamy. I must admit that although I’ve been back several times (twice in one week, oh dear) I’ve stuck with my favourite new sandwich and neglected to try any of the other flavours, but rest assured, there are different bagels and fillings aplenty to sample here. The Whole Bagel has also now moved to spacious new premises a few doors down, with space to sit (outside or inside) and even more choices to be had - the chocolate brownies are particularly deserving of a mention, as they are gloriously rich and squidgy.

This really is one of those nigh-on perfect lunch spots: you can grab your bagel in double quick time, even if there is a queue, as the bagellistas (a word I’ve coined myself - you may use it if you like) are super speedy at preparing them (although you can also phone ahead), the prices are fabulously reasonable, considering that these plump little beauties are far more filling than a sandwich, and there are enough exciting flavours going on to liven up the most boring Monday or long-drawn-out Friday. Go there, go there soon, and make sure the first bagel you try is the smoked salmon & cream cheese.