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Smoked Fish and Bagel Recs
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  • Smoked Fish and Bagel Recs

    Post #1 - August 30th, 2005, 4:14 pm
    Post #1 - August 30th, 2005, 4:14 pm Post #1 - August 30th, 2005, 4:14 pm
    The wife and I recently moved to the River North area from NYC and we're looking for a good smoked fish purveyor (missing Barney Greengrass already) and bagel place (...and H&H).

    Thanks...
  • Post #2 - August 30th, 2005, 6:21 pm
    Post #2 - August 30th, 2005, 6:21 pm Post #2 - August 30th, 2005, 6:21 pm
    Welcome to Chicago. Let me begin by politely asking you to temper your expectations. Chicago is not a Jewish smoked fish town like NY is. There's a ton of good eating here, but what you're talking about is one of the reasons I like to go to NY.

    That being said, your best bet anywhere near River North is going to be Ashkenaz Deli. They have a very good selection of whitefish, sable, salmon, etc.

    If you're inclined to take a drive, Kaufman's Deli in Skokie has excellent choices, as do many of the Russian delis like Three Sisters on Devon and Eurostyle Deli on Oakton.

    For bagels, try them at Ashkenaz and see if you're happy with them (I'm not sure where they get them from). Really, the only places I buy bagels are from Kaufman and NY Bagel & Bialy. NY sends bagels to a few sandwich shops around town. It might be worth calling them to see if they deliver bagels anywhere near you.

    Also, don't forget that Barney Greengrass and Russ and Daughters ship. :)

    Best,
    Michael

    Ashkenaz Deli
    12 E Cedar St
    Chicago
    (312) 944-5006

    Kaufman's
    4905 Dempster
    Skokie
    (847) 677-9880

    Three Sisters
    2854 W. Devon Ave.
    (773) 973-1919

    Eurostyle Deli
    4861 Oakton
    Skokie
    (847) 329-1430

    NY Bagel and Bialy
    4714 W Touhy
    Lincolnwood
    (847) 677-9388
    (also in Skokie and Niles--I think)
  • Post #3 - August 30th, 2005, 7:15 pm
    Post #3 - August 30th, 2005, 7:15 pm Post #3 - August 30th, 2005, 7:15 pm
    If you're going all the way to Skokie, check out Chaim's Kosher Bakery, practically across the street from Kaufman's. I prefer Kaufman's, having eaten from there for four decades, (even weathering their salmonella scare in the 80's), but there are those who prefer Chaim's. They are definitely different: the bagels are a very different texture. You may prefer one over the other.

    Not to be missed at Kaufman's, though, are their pletzl, a flattish onion bread, sort of a Jewish focaccia, and on the deli side, their pickles and chopped chicken liver.

    Chaim's Kosher Bakery
    4964 W. Dempster
    Skokie, IL 60077
    847 675-1005
  • Post #4 - August 30th, 2005, 7:32 pm
    Post #4 - August 30th, 2005, 7:32 pm Post #4 - August 30th, 2005, 7:32 pm
    Many prefer Chaim's because it is truly Kosher. Kaufman's is not, but I too prefer them.
  • Post #5 - August 30th, 2005, 9:15 pm
    Post #5 - August 30th, 2005, 9:15 pm Post #5 - August 30th, 2005, 9:15 pm
    I agree with eatchicago...temper those expectations. But, if you are willing to drive out to Skokie for Kaufmann's, you might as well drive south on Lake Shore Drive and visit Calumet Fisheries for some excellent smoked chubs.

    And, if you live in River North, you could try out Fox & Obel's bagels. They are decent...not as crusty as H&H, but still pretty good. Plus they have fresh cream cheese that is also good, perhaps not Ben's, but good. They hand slice their smoked salmon, and while pricey, is of very good quality.

    Welcome to Chicago, and to LTHforum!

    trixie-pea
    Last edited by trixie-pea on August 31st, 2005, 6:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #6 - August 30th, 2005, 9:26 pm
    Post #6 - August 30th, 2005, 9:26 pm Post #6 - August 30th, 2005, 9:26 pm
    Dirk's always has excellent smoked sable, cold and hot smoked, along with at least a few other varieties of smoked fish. You also might consider the infinite number of Polish delis and supermarkets, as well as the Russian places on Devon. But for Barney Greengrass-ish quality and prices close to home, I'd start with F&O and Dirk's.
  • Post #7 - August 31st, 2005, 8:58 am
    Post #7 - August 31st, 2005, 8:58 am Post #7 - August 31st, 2005, 8:58 am
    I would also vouch for Kaufmann's. We go there pretty regularly for our bagels and like their texture and flavor the best. I've also had their smoked sable and it's like butta. My wife had a really awful verbally abusive experience with the counterman at NY Bagel so we don't go there anymore.
  • Post #8 - August 31st, 2005, 10:23 am
    Post #8 - August 31st, 2005, 10:23 am Post #8 - August 31st, 2005, 10:23 am
    Thanks, everyone, for the recs. Will post thoughts soon...

    Mr. T. wrote:My wife had a really awful verbally abusive experience with the counterman at NY Bagel so we don't go there anymore.


    Sounds just like NYC...
  • Post #9 - August 31st, 2005, 12:49 pm
    Post #9 - August 31st, 2005, 12:49 pm Post #9 - August 31st, 2005, 12:49 pm
    trixie-pea wrote:And, if you live in River North, you could try out Fox & Obel's bagels. They are decent...not as crusty as H&H, but still pretty good. Plus they have fresh cream cheese that is also good, perhaps not Ben's, but good.


    F&O sometimes carries an excellent cream cheese from
    New York called Smithfields. It usually runs out
    quickly, they say, because of the transplanted New Yorkers.
    Their usual stock cream cheese is Zingerman’s from Michigan. But I would have a hard time imagining anybody who likes Ben’s to enjoy this heavily-whipped, fairly flavorless product but who knows.

    Definitely temper those expectations; they don't call
    Barney Greengrass the "Sturgeon King" for nothing. I
    enjoy it when they’re called the Sturgeon General,
    though.
  • Post #10 - August 31st, 2005, 1:42 pm
    Post #10 - August 31st, 2005, 1:42 pm Post #10 - August 31st, 2005, 1:42 pm
    I pretty much disagree with the rec of Kaufman's for bagels. Kaufman's is a good place generally. I like their rye breads, pumpernickle, pickles, chopped liver, but bagels, feh. Soft, soft, soft, soft. Bagels should not be soft. Bagels should have a nice crust and then a solid chew. New Yawkers are so lound because their jaws get better workout from chewing their bagels. New York Bagel and Bialy, in Lincolnwood (on Toughy) is about the closet to a good bagel here (not bad, but not great).

    Kaufman's and Chaims have some good fish, like whitefish, but the lox and nova is all machine sliced, a real weakness in my book. F&O mentioned does have some hand-sliced fish (of good quality) but not of Jewish style. Way (way) out in Naperville, H.P. Schwartz's makes their own gravlax style salmon that is very good. They also import some fine nova from NYC, but it is machine sliced. A few sources for the real thing are Onion Roll in Oak Park and Max & Benny's in Northbrook.

    And since it's been mentioned, I generally like Chaim's more than Kaufman's, especially their meats and salads. Here's my report on Chaim's and Kaufman's.

    Rob
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #11 - August 31st, 2005, 1:59 pm
    Post #11 - August 31st, 2005, 1:59 pm Post #11 - August 31st, 2005, 1:59 pm
    H & H also has mail order but you have to buy in large quantities and it's kind of expensive.
    Otherwise, I'm a fan of New York B & B, too (for some reason, the Lincolnwood location on Touhy seems to turn out better bagels than the Dempster store). Stay away from the bagel place at North and Sheffield (unless you need a doorstop)
  • Post #12 - August 31st, 2005, 2:06 pm
    Post #12 - August 31st, 2005, 2:06 pm Post #12 - August 31st, 2005, 2:06 pm
    Vital Information wrote:I pretty much disagree with the rec of Kaufman's for bagels. Kaufman's is a good place generally. I like their rye breads, pumpernickle, pickles, chopped liver, but bagels, feh. Soft, soft, soft, soft. Bagels should not be soft. Bagels should have a nice crust and then a solid chew. New Yawkers are so lound because their jaws get better workout from chewing their bagels. New York Bagel and Bialy, in Lincolnwood (on Toughy) is about the closet to a good bagel here (not bad, but not great).


    I generaly buy my stuff from NYB&B (since I'm really more of a bialy-guy), but my last Kaufman's bagel (a corn-rye bagel) was a far cry from soft. Not quite as proper at the NYB&B bagels, but I don't have soft memories of K's bagels. Maybe one (or both) of us needs to try them again. :)

    Vital Information wrote:Kaufman's and Chaims have some good fish, like whitefish, but the lox and nova is all machine sliced, a real weakness in my book.


    Ashkenaz, as mentioned above, offers hand-sliced lox. When at Kaufman's I generally go for chubs or sable.
  • Post #13 - August 31st, 2005, 2:07 pm
    Post #13 - August 31st, 2005, 2:07 pm Post #13 - August 31st, 2005, 2:07 pm
    I have to totally second VI on the bagel question.

    NY B&B is the only local attempt that seems to come close. Fortunately they're carried in at least a few locations around town: Samuel's on Broadway, Shalom Deli (with it's all Asian staff/ownership) in the Loop on Wells, and that odd deli in north Andersonville on Clark that operates in quasi-secrecy disguised as a pharmacy (much in the way that U.N.C.L.E. HQ was disguised as a dry cleaner's. )

    I'm sure there are plenty more outlets, but those are the ones that come to mind. It seems to be some kind of natural law, though, that any place incorporated specifically AS a bagelry (Einstein, et. al.), is completely hopeless.
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #14 - August 31st, 2005, 2:21 pm
    Post #14 - August 31st, 2005, 2:21 pm Post #14 - August 31st, 2005, 2:21 pm
    Vital Information wrote:I pretty much disagree with the rec of Kaufman's for bagels. Kaufman's is a good place generally. I like their rye breads, pumpernickle, pickles, chopped liver, but bagels, feh. Soft, soft, soft, soft. Bagels should not be soft. Bagels should have a nice crust and then a solid chew. New Yawkers are so lound because their jaws get better workout from chewing their bagels. New York Bagel and Bialy, in Lincolnwood (on Toughy) is about the closet to a good bagel here (not bad, but not great).

    Kaufman's and Chaims have some good fish, like whitefish, but the lox and nova is all machine sliced, a real weakness in my book. F&O mentioned does have some hand-sliced fish (of good quality) but not of Jewish style. Way (way) out in Naperville, H.P. Schwartz's makes their own gravlax style salmon that is very good. They also import some fine nova from NYC, but it is machine sliced. A few sources for the real thing are Onion Roll in Oak Park and Max & Benny's in Northbrook.



    I completely agree with this statement. I'm a lifelong Kauffman's customer going back to the days when the main bakery was on Kedzie and Montrose. Having said that, in the last couple of years I no longer buy my bagels at Kauffmans opting instead for the bagles at NYB&B. I still get mey meats and fish at Kauffman's, though. I'm not a Chiam's fan. None of them hold a candle to the stuff you get in NYC, though (you have no idea how hard it is for me to admint that fact).
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #15 - August 31st, 2005, 2:28 pm
    Post #15 - August 31st, 2005, 2:28 pm Post #15 - August 31st, 2005, 2:28 pm
    I live in West Ridge and many of my Jewish neighbors like Robert's on Devon. I don't often eat smoked fish, but I've eaten the products sold by both Kaufman's and Robert's and liked them equally. Most of the neighbors don't like Kaufman's any more, they comment about it being non-kosher and about a service/quality decline due to a "change in management." I eat at "What's Cooking" restaurant on Lincoln Ave. and McCormick Boulevard regularly and Gus the owner serves smoked fish from "Schwartz" (have no idea who/where that is) - and I've liked the chub.

    As for the great bagel debate (no less intense than the one about "Who sells the best Chicago hot dog?") - I've come to like NYBB. I'll admit, though, that I'm not certain I've had a NYC quality bagel, ever, from a source in Chicago.

    Robert's Fish On Devon (Kosher)
    2916 W. Devon
    Chicago, IL 60659
    (773) 761-3424
  • Post #16 - September 1st, 2005, 3:21 pm
    Post #16 - September 1st, 2005, 3:21 pm Post #16 - September 1st, 2005, 3:21 pm
    Closer to you (and me) I would recommend NYC Bagel, located in a strip mall on the SW corner of North & Sheffield. It's not as good as trekking up to Skokie, but it is closer.
    there's food, and then there's food
  • Post #17 - September 1st, 2005, 5:36 pm
    Post #17 - September 1st, 2005, 5:36 pm Post #17 - September 1st, 2005, 5:36 pm
    If your standard for bagels is H&H (which is mine too) you're going to need this, because nothing in Chicago comes close. For me, the most tolerable bagels here are from the Einstein Brothers chain. NYB&B is no better than any of the others here, i.e., it's just round bread.
  • Post #18 - September 1st, 2005, 9:02 pm
    Post #18 - September 1st, 2005, 9:02 pm Post #18 - September 1st, 2005, 9:02 pm
    Two often-overlooked bagel bakeries have MUCH better bagels than Kaufman's cake-like monstrosities:

    Bagel Country
    9306 N. Skokie Blvd.
    Skokie, IL 60077
    847-673-3030
    ... great variety, good authentic pumpernickel, nice hard crust

    BB's Bagels
    2835 West Touhy Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60645
    773-761-8805
    ... also New York-style, comparable to New York Bagel on Dempster

    >>Brent
    "Yankee bean soup, cole slaw and tuna surprise."
  • Post #19 - September 2nd, 2005, 6:00 am
    Post #19 - September 2nd, 2005, 6:00 am Post #19 - September 2nd, 2005, 6:00 am
    It's clear that we need to do a bagel taste-off, with examples from the places named in this thread.

    Where? Somewhere near Skokie would probably be best -- closest to the majority of bakeries.

    I volunteer to bring the bagels from Chicago Bagel & Bialy, in Wheeling.

    How many varieties of bagel? (Certainly at least egg, plain and onion.) Bagels only or bialys, too?
  • Post #20 - September 2nd, 2005, 7:52 am
    Post #20 - September 2nd, 2005, 7:52 am Post #20 - September 2nd, 2005, 7:52 am
    LAZ wrote:It's clear that we need to do a bagel taste-off, with examples from the places named in this thread.

    ...

    How many varieties of bagel? (Certainly at least egg, plain and onion.) Bagels only or bialys, too?

    Gotta have a pumpernickel, preferably an onion pump. Sesame seed and poppy are nice, but don't add much flavor. I'm fond of the 'everything' bagels, but I don't think Kaufman's carries them.

    One ground rule: no blueberry, no chocolate chip, no apple cinnamon. I might make an exception for Asiago cheese. Yes, this is a dig at Panera, whose stuff I like, but they are woefully short on non-sweet bagels, and non-sweet cream cheese (no chive, I'm not even sure about salmon, only plain or 'veggie').
  • Post #21 - September 2nd, 2005, 9:36 am
    Post #21 - September 2nd, 2005, 9:36 am Post #21 - September 2nd, 2005, 9:36 am
    JoelF wrote:One ground rule: no blueberry, no chocolate chip, no apple cinnamon. I might make an exception for Asiago cheese. Yes, this is a dig at Panera, whose stuff I like, but they are woefully short on non-sweet bagels, and non-sweet cream cheese (no chive, I'm not even sure about salmon, only plain or 'veggie').


    I enjoy a Panera Asiago cheese bagle with salmon spread every once in a while. While I like this bread, I don't consider it actually eating a bagel.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #22 - September 2nd, 2005, 9:37 am
    Post #22 - September 2nd, 2005, 9:37 am Post #22 - September 2nd, 2005, 9:37 am
    While the Great Skokie Bagel Wars of Ought-Five play out, I'll second rich4's nomination for the oft-overlooked NYC Bagel Deli at North and Sheffield for good kettle boiled bagels. The quality may or may not approach that of the more distant recommendations (haven't tried two of them), but it's much closer to your home in River North. They strive hard to approximate the New York style--sometimes going a little over the top to do so, as this fact from their website attests:
    "To insure the proper taste a water purification filtration system has been installed to match the water properties of New York City." (Perhaps their purifiers come equipped with a Hudson River setting)

    The location is tiny, with little or no eat-in options, but there is a small parking lot if you'll be driving. It's no Barney Greengrass, but neither are most of the bagel places in NYC.

    NYC Bagel Deli
    1001 W North Avenue
    312-274-1278
  • Post #23 - September 2nd, 2005, 9:40 am
    Post #23 - September 2nd, 2005, 9:40 am Post #23 - September 2nd, 2005, 9:40 am
    CoolerbytheLake wrote:While the Great Skokie Bagel Wars of Ought-Five play out, I'll second rich4's nomination for the oft-overlooked NYC Bagel Deli at North and Sheffield for good kettle boiled bagels.....They strive hard to approximate the New York style


    I think they do a passable job with their bagels, but their bialys fall way short. My one bialy there tasted like a hamburger bun.
  • Post #24 - September 2nd, 2005, 12:56 pm
    Post #24 - September 2nd, 2005, 12:56 pm Post #24 - September 2nd, 2005, 12:56 pm
    Yeah, yeah, do visit Kaufman's and Chaim's. Then, as mentioned above, order from H&H.
  • Post #25 - September 2nd, 2005, 1:30 pm
    Post #25 - September 2nd, 2005, 1:30 pm Post #25 - September 2nd, 2005, 1:30 pm
    Has anyone here actually ordered from H&H? How well do they travel? I see they ship overnight so I assume they're fresh, not frozen. Now that I know this is a possibility, I can't get the idea out of my head. H&H is bagels to me. Nothing else comes close.
  • Post #26 - September 2nd, 2005, 1:58 pm
    Post #26 - September 2nd, 2005, 1:58 pm Post #26 - September 2nd, 2005, 1:58 pm
    I order from them fairly regularly. It's not as good as having one in on Broadway in NY, but still better than my local bageleria. They ship over night and the minimum order is 2 dozen. Freezing is OK, I suppose, but it defeats the purpose, so I usually end up giving away half the order. I'm told that's good for my karma.
  • Post #27 - September 2nd, 2005, 2:03 pm
    Post #27 - September 2nd, 2005, 2:03 pm Post #27 - September 2nd, 2005, 2:03 pm
    cowdery wrote:Has anyone here actually ordered from H&H? How well do they travel? I see they ship overnight so I assume they're fresh, not frozen. Now that I know this is a possibility, I can't get the idea out of my head. H&H is bagels to me. Nothing else comes close.


    I've been to NYC tons of times, but never have had an H&H bagel (that I know of). I've had lox and bagels at all the usual suspects (2nd Ave Deli, Stage, Carnegie, etc.), but never took much note of the bagels one way or the other. Is this one of those egocentric NYC things, or are they really better? What makes them so good?
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #28 - September 2nd, 2005, 2:20 pm
    Post #28 - September 2nd, 2005, 2:20 pm Post #28 - September 2nd, 2005, 2:20 pm
    I know of two other decent options, too. Once Upon A Bagel, in uptown Highland Park, and Upper Crust in nearby Deerfield.

    Of the two, I prefer Once Upon A Bagel, but like many Chicago bagelries their bialy is better than their bagel. Upper Crust's bagels are slightly too flattish and chewy for my taste, but my in-laws (transplanted NY Jews) seem to love them.

    Once Upon A Bagel
    http://onceuponabagel.com
    (847) 433-1411
    1888 1st St
    Highland Park, IL 60035

    Upper Crust Bagels
    (224) 405-0805
    835 Waukegan Rd
    Deerfield, IL 60015
  • Post #29 - September 2nd, 2005, 3:01 pm
    Post #29 - September 2nd, 2005, 3:01 pm Post #29 - September 2nd, 2005, 3:01 pm
    I've been to NYC tons of times, but never have had an H&H bagel (that I know of). I've had lox and bagels at all the usual suspects (2nd Ave Deli, Stage, Carnegie, etc.), but never took much note of the bagels one way or the other. Is this one of those egocentric NYC things, or are they really better? What makes them so good?[/quote]

    New Yorkers do have a tendency to glorify all things New York... so much so that the hype often obscures the substance. However, imho, H&H makes the best bagel on the planet (with Ess-a-Bagel a close second). I've definitely consumed my share of crappy bagels in NYC, but H&H absolutely lives up to its reputation.

    As to why they're better... I can't say for sure. H&H does adhere to a certain traditional bagel-making process (i.e. kettling then baking), but I'm not sure why this process can't be duplicated anywhere else. As with many foods, I suspect that there is an art to creating the perfect bagel (I like to imagine the people at H&H lovingly tending their kettles and ovens, like a seasoned pitmaster nurturing the fire of his/her smoker).
  • Post #30 - September 2nd, 2005, 4:27 pm
    Post #30 - September 2nd, 2005, 4:27 pm Post #30 - September 2nd, 2005, 4:27 pm
    Another reason the faux-bagels at Panera disappoint -- they got rid of the salmon spread. (Steve, I like their asiago cheese "bagels" too, but they may as well be called "novelty rolls")
    "Yankee bean soup, cole slaw and tuna surprise."

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