A left onto Snelling and straight on through New York

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When I heard that the St. Paul Bagelry boasted “Fresh New York Bagels Done Right Here in the Neighborhood,” my interest was immediately piqued. Being a New York-obsessed snob, I’m always up for some MN/NY comparison. I had recently been horribly misled by a “New York Style” pizza place in Uptown that actually just offered soggy and limp triangular shaped bread generously smothered with Ragu and topped with Polly-O shredded string cheese, so I wasn’t expecting much. Non-Domino’s doesn’t mean New York in my book, so I resigned myself and hung my hopes on the bagels for some NYC flava. Situated hopefully in the otherwise depressing Roseville strip mall smack between “Embroid Me” and an ambiguous “Media Workshop” store, the St. Paul Bagery offers outside seating that must be divine during the summer, but looked rather sad in the dead of December.

“Things, just don’t compare here,” I sighed to my roommate Amy, fellow New Yorker (suburbs, but whatever) and editor for this review.

“Relax,” she ordered. “I think the owner’s from New York.”

“Yeah right,” I grumbled and slammed the door behind us defiantly, looking around.

Amy shook her head and instructed me to take good notes. “Remind yourself that this is for The Mac Weekly, not an exercise in Manhattan Pride.”

Whatever. I planted myself in a corner and had a good stare. Cheerful green and pink tiles covered the floor; there was an abundance of seating, and even a handsome black leather couch next to the windows in front. The one downside to the seating was that the place seemed eerily empty minus two dejected senior citizens sucking down coffee loudly, but I figured maybe it was just an off day.

I turned away from all the empty seats. The counter was long and tall, and below it, a fridge displayed containers of take-away cream cheese, in every flavor imaginable–I spied chive, apricot olive and tomato placed prominently in front. Bagels also came in various assortments: staples such as plain, poppy and sesame, but then more adventurous kinds like egg, multigrain with honey, and asiago. For the insatiable bagel eater, pesto, cinnamon sugar and chocolate chip nestled invitingly in wire baskets.

“Look, look!” I yelled to Amy, who was surveying the soda selection and pretending she didn’t know me. “They’re small enough to be New York!”

We ordered well to sample the products: one toasted poppy with peanut butter, one multigrain with hummus, lettuce and tomato, one dry whole wheat, and a plain with cream cheese, plus two sodas. The total was seven dollars, which is definitely a plus for cash-strapped college students.

Amy and I took our feast to a booth and swapped bagels. They were warm, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, all well spread with various condiments. The ingredients were all startlingly fresh. I wasn’t even that hungry and scarfed down the entire bagel in seconds flat, to Amy’s thinly veiled disgust.

The bagels were so good, I needed the inside story. I met the owner, Jim Archer. He told me he has owned the St. Paul Bagelry since last August. Archer and his wife owned a Dairy Queen nearby, and as he told me, took over the Bagelry because he “wanted something to do during the winter.”

I asked what makes the bagels distinctly New York. Jim Archer started walking toward the kitchen and led me to a giant tin vat of bagel dough. “The New York factor comes through in the process of cooking,” he explained, leaning over the cavernous pot. “You boil then bake, and it’s all about the timing.” “That’s it?” I said dubiously. Archer’s face was grave. “You expect me to tell you my secret?”

The one main downside to the St. Paul Bagelry is that it closes at 3 p.m. every day. It is open Mon-Fri 6:00-3, Sat 6:30-3:00 and Sunday 7:30-3:00, but Archer assured me that the hours will change soon. “We’re expanding,” he said. “We can make lattes now, mochas, we have wireless…We can do everything that Caribou can.”

The other downside is that the Bagelry is more of a destination restaurant, a good 15 minute drive from campus and not really near anything else of interest. However, I found the bagels more than good enough for a little effort, and recommend the Bagelry for weekend brunches especially.

St. Paul Bagelry

(651) 488-1700

1702 Lexington Avenue, Roseville

NE Corner of Lexinton & Larpenteur