Many New Yorkers grew up devoted to the bagel with lox and cream cheese, but are our palates ready for a change? Famed bagel eatery Black Seed thinks outside of the box by collaborating with different local restaurants to create outlandish and bizarre monthly specials. This month, it teamed up with New York City restaurant Huertas to create “The Huertas Matrimonio.” The result? Unique, to say the least.
The special features a garlic bagel loaded with olive cream cheese, piquillo peppers as well as boquerones and anchoas — two different types of anchovies. It’s certainly not for those who are squeamish about the saltwater delicacy.
I chose to not look up the special prior to trying it in order to avoid any second thoughts I might’ve had, and instead made my way to their NoLita branch to form my opinion firsthand. Now, I’m not put off by anchovies — I occasionally enjoy them on pizza or mixed in a Caesar salad — but I’ve certainly never seen fish as my sandwich stuffing of choice.
They were out of garlic bagels that day, which — as a garlic fanatic — upset me just a little. They instead offered me an everything bagel, which they told me was the next best thing. I accepted it after a moment of agitation and waited as I contemplated what I was getting myself into. The bagel finally came out wrapped in white parchment paper, absolutely soaked in grease.
Anchovies and piquillo peppers are typically packed in oil, which, combined with olive cream cheese, left the three layers of napkins and a paper bag drowning. I bit into it anyway, thinking it was all part of the experience and was pleasantly surprised by the flavor.
Black Seed certainly got the formula right: cream cheese, fish and a plant-based garnish. It’s a new take on a classic combination that tasted fresh and even Mediterranean. The flavor reminded me somewhat of Napoletana pizza and Penne Puttanesca, but on a bagel. The toppings melted well together.
Greasiness, though, was its fatal flaw. When I eat a bagel, I prefer it to have that crunchy bite from being freshly toasted, and The Huertas Matrimonio packed none of that. I could also barely taste the cream cheese because the sheer volume of the other toppings dominated any other flavor.
If you can’t stand the taste of anchovies, absolutely do not try this bagel. If your palate is a little more adventurous, though, you should go for it. It’s not the absolute best thing your mouth will ever taste, and I probably won’t order it again, but it’s worth the short walk from campus to find out for yourself. After all, New Yorkers can all do with a little divergence from their routines.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 17 print edition. Email Celina Khorma at [email protected]