Bagel House Café

OK peeps, how cool is this: yet another food joint that has decided not to go the burger route! Hey maybe Geneva’s actually chock full of crazy foodie rebel types, just waiting for the right opportunity to say:

I don’t serve burgers and I don’t even care!

Well anyway, the Bagel House Café seems to be one such place (in that they don’t serve burgers, not sure they’re out to make any bold anti-burger statements though). Open until the late hours of the afternoon/early hours of the evening Monday through Saturday, the Bagel House will serve you some of the better bagels this side of the pond. You can get them plain or have them add a schmear. There is also a variety of bagel sandwiches on the menu including ham, pastrami, chicken and avocado, chorizo, mozzarella, eggs and bacon in the morning and so on.

So are we happy? Do we love Bagel House Café yet? In some ways, yes I do love the Bagel House, in others, there is definitely room for improvement. I will say, I do love that they’re actively contributing to changing Geneva’s food scene. I have yet to see any condiment come out of a tube at the Passage Malbuisson located café and just for that they get so much foodie credit.

Morning and Morning Bacon

I have now visited BGC a number of times, and I’ve tasted many of the items on their menu. Let’s start with their Morning bagel sandwich, which I believe is served until 11 am. It is basically scrambled eggs and cheddar which you can upgrade to a Morning Bacon bagel sandwich.

I had actually asked for the basic Morning option but the guy behind the counter botched my order and prepared a Morning Bacon instead. I couldn’t be bothered to tell him – come on people, it was early, how much talking do you like to do at 8am? Anyway, for the most part, I don’t especially like bacon (no, no, don’t go away, there are still lots of things we both like, come on… come back…) and this bacon in particular just didn’t do it for me – it was pretty much the molecular opposite of crispy, and that is really not a good fit for my taste buds.

I had it on a poppy seed bagel that was just barely toasted, and the scrambled eggs – while a little lacking in flavor – were made right then and there – so definitely ‘A’ for freshness! I would say, the bagel, the eggs and the cheddar make a good combo, but I would definitely skip the soft, chewy bacon if I were to order the Morning bagel again.

Bagel House Café - breakfast bagel

Bronx

I love pastrami. It’s one of the first things I want to order when I’m in NYC. So when a joint in our neck of the woods tries their hand at making pastrami, I’m definitely going to want to test it! Now first off, this whole notion of combining pastrami and bagels is kind of a European invention. Actually I don’t know if other European countries are as fond of doing this, but I’ve definitely seen this done a lot in Geneva over the years. Of course, traditionally, pastrami is served on rye bread, sometimes on a roll if you like to be a little rebellious that way (this post kind of has a theme to it) but on a bagel? I don’t know. Not traditional, not my first choice.

Anyway, you can see where this is all going, Bagel House Café makes bagel sandwiches, and one of those sandwiches happens to be a pastrami bagel which they call a Bronx bagel sandwich. Now other than the Morning bagel sandwich, every other sandwich comes with a schmear, you can choose from the following: plain, light, lemon and herbs. You’ll also get cheddar and lettuce in your Bronx.

This is a fairly decent effort at making a pastrami bagel sandwich if you like that kind of thing I guess, but at a whopping CHF 15.90, this sandwich doesn’t quite deliver. First of all, look at the amount of pastrami in there:

Bagel House Café - cheddar pastrami bagel

Now let’s compare that to something made, say, on the other side of the atlantic:

Sarge's Deli, NYC - pastrami on rye

Are we seeing a slight difference? Not to mention the difference in taste! This is certainly a very decent pastrami as far as Geneva goes, but the bottom line is it is rather lacking in both flavor and texture. Definitely room for improvement! Now I’m not suggesting they stack it up as high as the example in the photo above, but there has got to be a happy medium. Come on, Geneva, get your act together already!

Lima

Your choice of schmear, chicken breast, guacamole, lettuce and tomatoes is what you’ll get in a Lima sandwich. This one, as far as I’m concerned, is a fail – plain and simple. It is bland, and the chicken is kind of cold and dry. The textures of the lettuce and the guac are the only things working here. Still, I won’t be ordering this again anytime soon, it’s just not worth the CHF 14.90 I paid.

Bagel House Café - chicken avocado bagel

Oslo

Fairly standard, basically a bagel and lox. Not sure the lettuce is entirely necessary here, but the salmon, red onions and schmear are good, capers would probably be a welcome addition. However the bottom line is this bagel sandwich is a classic, and it works. Not much else to be said really. Again a little expensive at CHF 14.90, but hey, this is Geneva.

Bagel House Café - bagel and lox

Mixed Greens

All of your bagel sandwiches will come with a side of mixed greens, to which you can add a balsamic dressing, a lemon dressing or a French dressing as well as salt and pepp… ZZZZzzzzzZZzzzzZZZZ… oh sorry – what? Where am I? What just happened? Did things get so ridiculously boring I actually fell asleep while writing this review?? IS THAT WHAT JUST HAPPENED????

Look it’s not my fault BHC’s mixed green salad is as boring and uninspired as the plastic container it is served in… mixed green salads can be a thing of magic if prepared properly but this, unfortunately, is a lackluster effort at best.

Bagel House Café - mixed green salad

But let’s move on to desserts. I really enjoyed this blueberry muffin, it was an unexpected combination of something really simple that just really works. I also loved the crumb topping. Take heed, Starbucks, your muffins are really not doing it for me anymore.

Bagel House Café - blueberry muffin

This Oreo cheesecake was just ok. The Oreo crust was way too hard and my fork struggled with it quite a bit, eventually sending a chunk right off my table.

Bagel House Café - oreo cheesecake

However, Bagel House Café has another huge winner as far as I’m concerned: their fresh juices. Worth the trip just for those. This particular one is called a Green Lady, and it has apple, pineapple, baby spinach leaves and mint in it. It is fresh, and it is delicious. Good call, BHC!

Bagel House Café - green lady juice

This concoction, I believe, is called Little Spicy and it is a simple apple, carrot and ginger juice. It’s one of my favorite combos!

Bagel House Café - Little Spicy

Then there is that large selection of coffees and teas. And I have to admit, they’re very, VERY good. One of the more enjoyable parts of BHC. A special mention for their chai latte – both the iced and warm versions – doesn’t get much better, keep it up Bagel House!

Bagel House Café - iced chai latte

Now a quick word about the BHC’s décor, it’s pretty cool, effort clearly went into making interior design decisions, this sets this place apart from the vast majority of Geneva’s joints. It’s a nice mixture of modern and retro, and no one loves retro more than I do.

Bagel House Café - retro décor

But here’s the thing, right now, BHC is new, everything is still in fairly decent shape and clean-looking. However, once they’ve been around for a while, it is entirely possible – perhaps even likely – that things will start collecting dirt, and their interior design choices won’t make cleaning an especially easy task. I think we’ve all seen this happen in Geneva in the past: everything looks spotless in the beginning and then as time goes by and cleaning and maintenance start falling by the wayside, things start looking old, shabby and – let’s just say it – a little gross.

Now I’m not accusing BHC of any of that – it is of course way too early to tell. I have, however, noticed that they use really nice textured non-slip trays to serve their customers. Because these trays aren’t smooth, though, food tends to get trapped inside in a way that’s difficult to clean out. And the last time I went, I definitely felt I was looking at someone else’s crumbs on my tray. So maybe that’s just something to keep an eye on in the future.

Bagel House Café - décor

And then there is this:

Bagel House Café - bins

Yeah… you know what, I’m just going to come out and say this, if you get yourself a CHF 15.90 bagel sandwich, some fresh juice and maybe a coffee or a dessert, you actually won’t be far from the CHF 30 mark for your lunch, certainly very easily upwards of CHF 25, so really we’re talking restaurant prices. McDonald’s this is not!

So to recap…

  • The bagels are really, really good, plain, onion, poppy, everything… it’s all good!
  • This is yet another step in the right direction for Geneva’s food scene.
  • The fresh juices are delish and the coffee and chai latte are equally good.
  • The décor is fun and original.
  • The décor will need a lot of maintenance to keep looking clean and new.
  • The sandwich fillings really need a lot more love and passion. They are mostly underwhelming. Peut mieux faire as my French-speaking friends would say.
  • Mixed greens. See sandwich fillings.
  • Too expensive. EVEN by Geneva’s crazy standards. Either better quality food (read sandwich fillings) or lower prices are needed.

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