JiaLi Deck is a junior at Clayton High School. She is very excited to continue writing for the magazine, but this year especially she can't wait to increase her contributions to...
Worth the Wait?
JiaLi Deck reviews Bagel Union, the newest bagel shop in Webster Groves
March 11, 2023
Could a bagel really be worth over an hour-long wait? I pondered this question as I stood outside in line with over 20 eager bagel purchasers. I arrived at Bagel Union an hour after they opened on Sunday morning. By the time I got there, the line was already about halfway down the block and almost immediately three people joined behind me.
The line moved at a slow, but steady pace. Every once in a while, I’d look jealously at a person walking back to their car with a big brown bag of what I hoped to be delicious bagels. As I approached the door I began to get a whiff of the gluttonous dough inside. It smelled wonderful, and motivated me to stick out the line for just a bit longer.
Once I finally made it in the door, a man offered me a generously sized sample of a cherry crunch bagel with a thick spread of cream cheese. I happily took one to satisfy my now growling stomach. My first, yet diminutive, sample did not disappoint.
The atmosphere of Bagel Union is bustling and busy. The decor is very simplistic and the restaurant has an elegant feel. The bagels are displayed in overflowing baskets inside of a glass case, inviting customers to gaze longingly while they wait. The menu is simple, yet includes some unique additions. Obviously, you have cream cheese and lox with your classic fixings of capers and onion, but you can also get smoked beets, salmon roe, or pickled shallots.
I’m rather unadventurous when it comes to my bagel toppings, but I appreciated the unique menu items. When it finally came my time to order I got a sea salt bagel with classic cream cheese and lox, an everything bagel with scallion cream cheese, lox, capers, red onion, dill, and lemon oil, as well as a full version of the cherry crunch bagel.
Although waiting in line was a laborious process, after ordering, it only took about five minutes before I too had a brown bag of bagels to take home with me.
Now, before I can share the details of my breakfast, I must point out that Bagel Union is not for those on a budget. Bagels are $2.50 each and a sandwich with all of the toppings is $19. After tip, my total rounded out to $44.50.
That being said, quality comes at a cost and these bagels are certainly delicious. The lox were buttery and had a delicious flavor. The cold and smooth cream cheese provided the perfect contrast to the doughy bagel. Speaking of bagels, the bagels themselves were absolutely fantastic; now, as a quarantine-bread-baker and a picky eater with extremely high food standards, this review comes from no amateur.
With a crisp exterior and chewy center, the entire sandwich was gone in a flash. In my opinion, the sea salt bagel was just a little too salty and I would likely order just a plain bagel in the future.
The everything bagel was covered to the brim with everything seasoning and left no bite lacking the everything flavor. Although I feared the lemon oil would get lost among the other flavors, it was very noticeable.
The cherry crunch bagel was crispy and sweet on the outside, while the tart cherries provide a contrasting texture and flavor twist. While certainly on the sweeter side, I would not go so far as to deem this bagel a dessert as it still had a strong savory component.
Although my wallet was left feeling a little sparse, my stomach was certainly content. Bagel Union does not disappoint, but is a rather large time and monetary investment. As the new-restaurant-hype dies down, I have no doubt the line will become much more manageable. The restaurant will eventually be able to provide indoor seating for a cozy cafe feel; however, until then be prepared to wait outside. Perhaps on a special occasion or a day with lots of time to spare I will make my return to pick up another delicious sandwich.