THAT is Route 1/9, and below that is a half of a bagel, balancing on my whitewashed knee. We encountered M&J Hot Bagel of North Bergen on our way back to Bagel HQ in Mercer Co., this time via Newark (any bagels left? Not really). Spurred on by the desire to add one more to our (in retrospect, not planning) Hudson County Tour, and intrigued by the ‘Hot Bagels’ prefix, we forged ahead, despite the carbo cramps & other hazards of bagel reviewing. Straddling the Hackensack and the Hudson, by way of Route 1/9, we noticed a few things: awful traffic, swamps, and the occasional stunning view of the NYC skyline (why would anyone ever want to live IN that city when you can look AT it?). The 1/9 corridor had piqued our interest. It had our attention. Utilitarian highway views give way to hometown streets paved with history, all within minutes of that big mound of concrete and glass in the Hudson.
THE BAGLES: Right down to business here, folks. No monkey business, just bagel business. There was busy-ness in this shop, aided by techno music (set against humble bageldeli interior) and highway jazz (rubber meets concrete, intent on a destination, a delivery). But the bagels, dear readers, suffered. The seed density (see above) was not impressive. The bagels were bready; roll-like. Dare we say, they betrayed the good Hot Bagels name? But what do we know about North Jersey? Perhaps there are a thousand Hot Bagels just like it, all equally eager to use the name without also applying the Old World artisanal methods, such as somehow ensuring medium-to-high seed density. Also slightly disconcerting: coffee nowhere to be seen (but on the menu). Where does it come from?
THE BOTTOM LINE: We give a thumbs up to the service, which was kind and attentive, but these bagels will have to shed their breadiness and gain some seeds before we can count them as “recommended”
M&J Hot Bagel
4103 Tonelle Ave
North Bergen, NJ 07047