This one had been in the planning phase for quite some time. It was the first bagel run of the summer. The plan was this: a nice drive through Somerset County, stopping at as many “Bagels 4 U’s” as possible. A bagel chain may sound like bagel blasphemy, but this one was different. B4U is an offshoot of the legendary Watson Bagel of Newark. We ventured to the Hillsborough store, one of 12 B4U locations. Hillsborough: McMansions bookended by farm silos. A pickup pulls onto the county road. It is passed by a luxury SUV.
A cursory glance inside the store revealed a long line. The line moved quickly, and as we got closer to the front of the store, a dazzling array of flagels, bialys, “minikins,” bagel sticks, mini bagels, and even croissants revealed itself. Now, just for the record, I would never get croissants from a bagel store, but the sheer variety of bagel-related goods was overwhelming, to say the least. Up for bagelrating today: a blueberry bagel with raspberry cream cheese, and a more traditional poppy seed bagel with scallion CC. The blueberry bagels had just come out of the oven and refilled their proper basket.
We went to the car to eat. It was going to be a quick but relatively long trip this morning. We were impressed with the blueberry bagel. The shell was crunchy, the inside chewy. The raspberry CC was delicious, although not something that I would get on the reg. It reminded me of the fruit filling of a turnover pastry.
The poppy was a different story. “Cuts my gums,” said one ‘rater, while noting that they seem to go stale quickly. It was a hard chew; dense. Sparse toppings (a limited amount of poppy seeds, and too few blueberries, in this case) left us wanting more.
B4U locations (12) have trickled down and out in a kind of shotgun pattern. There are only two locations outside of the 287 belt, and this is one of them. It is also the most southward location. On my estimation, it is slightly above average for an NJ bagel shop, but probably slightly below average for a B4U shop. Our biggest complaint was the high density of the bagels—a real jaw workout. Although, if you get a fresh-out-of-the-oven bagel, it can be a real treat. Subsequent trips northward and inside the 287 belt will be needed to determine the overall quality of the B4U chain.
Bagels-4-U of Hillsborough
409 Route 206
Hillsborough, NJ 08876