It is less than 100 miles from Burlington, Vermont, to Montreal, Quebec, so it shouldn’t be too surprising to find a serious bagel bakery on the shore of Lake Champlain. What is surprising is how good these bagels are – every bit as delicious as Montreal’s signature breadstuff. That means that unlike the poufy bagel balloons that have become all too popular around the U.S., these are relatively small, very dense, slightly sweet, and perfumed by smoke from the wood-fired oven in which they are baked. The man who makes them, Lloyd Squiers, worked at St. Viateur in the City of Saints, so he knows exactly what he’s doing; and it is a pleasure to walk into this place, inhale the smoky perfume, and watch him work the oven to create the magnificent little rounds of chewy goodness. What a treat it is to get bagels still hot from the oven – plain, buttered, slathered with cream cheese (plain or flavored), or piled with lox (cured in Maine), onions, tomato, and capers.
The bagel repertoire is huge, and if there is a particular kind you want, you can call ahead and ask Mr. Squiers to make it. Among the choices are poppy seed, onion, garlic, rosemary sea salt, sesame, sesame sunflower, and one plastered with Montreal Spice, which is an herby mix of coriander, garlic, pepper, and salt. There even are gluten-free bagels, made with rice flour.
If all this place made was bagels, it would be well worth any Roadfooder’s attention, but there is more. The same dough is used to make pizzas on occasional Thursday nights; and every day the menu offers such items as veggie hash, fingerling potatoes seasoned with the brilliant Montreal spice, locally-made yogurt, and stupendous smoked brisket that is on a flavor-moisture-tenderness level with the best from a good Texas smokehouse.
What a fun destination this is. Located back from the road in an out-of-the-way industrial area, open every morning at 4, and bustling with the good cheer of proprietors and staff who obviously relish what they are doing, it is a four-star Roadfood gem.