263 St-Viateur West
74 Ave. Fairmount Ouest
The hubby and I debated about which bagel place we should visit during our recent visit to Montreal. We had been to St-Viateur before and we had enjoyed it very much, so I wanted to repeat the experience. He on the other hand wanted to try someplace new - Fairmount Bagels. My only concern was what if they weren't as good as St-Viateur bagels? The solution - we would get two bagels from each place and decide which was the best.
Our first stop was Fairmount Bagel. This place was buzzing with patrons waiting in line to place their bagel orders. I ordered two sesame. The small bag that was handed to me was still warm and there was a woodsy smokey smell that lingered along with the toasted sesame smell. We didn't eat them right away.
We drove the 2 minutes down the street to St-Viateur Bagel. This area is ripe with Hasidic Jews dressed in their shtreimels since it was Sabbath. I love watching these mysterious men walk about on these modern streets as life goes by sticking with their tradition way of life.
Inside the "Mason de Bagel" as St-Viateur is known, there was also a lot of people waiting for their bagels. I again ordered two sesame but got whipped cream cheese and orange juice as well. These bagels weren't warm and they didn't have the smokey woodsy smell just the sesame smell.
Once inside my car...great precision was carried out to determine which was the best Montreal bagel! Here are the results in my opinion:
Although not warm and chewy like the Fairmount bagel(Fairmount they got brownie points for still being warm)- St-Viateur was the best tasting bagel in my opinion. It was less chewy, had a sweeter flavour from the honey that is used in the making of Montreal bagels and less of the woodsy smokey flavour which I appreciated. It tasted delicious on its own or topped with cream cheese.
Having said that - Fairmount Bagel still makes excellent bagels! I suggest that you do the same thing if you are in Montreal and want to have good bagels - get bagels from both spots and compare for yourself...one thing is for sure...neither will disappoint! Shalom!
In his opinion:
The great debate goes on and on in Montreal about where you can find the best bagel. The two top contenders are consistently the same, St Viateur and Fairmonth Bagel which rule the Montreal bagel world and are consistently the most talked about two by locals and visitors.
As a food blogger that never backs down from a good challenge, we took this on, early in the morning while the bagels were still hot and fresh. We took to the streets of the neighbourhood of Miles End, in the borough of Le Plateau Mont-Royal to try our first contender, St Viateur.
This place is one mean machine of bagel making. Everything inside seems well choreographed and systematic. Everyone knows their job well, they could probably perform it blindfolded and the outcome would still be the same. The result is an amazing bagel with a chewy harder texture on the inside and just the perfect amount of crust to give you a texture blend in every bite. The sesame seeds seem more sporadic in this bagel, not sure if its on purpose but it does work.
The standard for Montreal bagels had been set and now it's time for the competition to step and measure up.
Next and only a few blocks down the road, Fairmount Bagel. The other original bagel institution in Montreal. Oh this is getting heated up...
Fairmounth outside looks like a house more than a business but don't let the face fool you into thinking this is not a serious place. One step inside and you feel like an old world establishment that has stayed the same for hundreds of years. The more modernize back of the establishment where the magic happens is a sign that they mean business.
The lineups were larger at Fairmount and placing an order felt like dealing with the "Soup Nazi" episode of Seinfeld. Wait your turn, move towards the counter, 2 steps sideways then face the cashier and put your order in, in French preferably but they sort of accept English.
The bag in handed to you in the same military fashion as the order and the bagels are still steaming inside. I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into that bagel and I almost didn't reach the car without doing it. As I broke it open, the steam and scent of the bagel involved the car like walking into your grandma's while she doing her baking.
The inside is softer than St Viateur but the outside is harder and chewier. The sesame seeds seemed to cover every inch of this bagel and they tasted more toasted than St Viateur. With ever bite, the bagel got better and better until I started wishing we had gotten more. A great bagel and border-lining perfection.