In Montreal, two companies compete to be considered the head honcho in town: Fairmount Bagel and St. Viateur Bagel (shown above), both named after the streets on which they reside in the Mile End neighborhood. We tried both while in town, and our verdict is that they really only have the shape and style in common.
When compared, St. Viateur had a crispier crust, fluffier middle, and was noticeably sweeter, while the Fairmount bagel was more dense and hearty. Both were tasty in their own way, and our advice would be to try both when you’re in town with some smoked salmon and cream cheese on top. As for the NYC controversy, our approach has always been to let two different things be different. When you look at how they are made, they might as well be two completely different foods, so why play favorites? Each satisfies a different craving, and you should indulge in both accordingly.
While you're out bagel tasting in Montreal, be sure to poke around the Mile End neighborhood. It turned out to be one of our favorite areas of town with an artsy vibe that is known for its Anglophone culture, independent music scene (the band Arcade Fire started there), restaurants, and cafes. The past few years have seen an influx of wealth to the neighborhood, and it now combines high-end houses with large lawns with a tightly packed “downtown” area. When you visit Montreal, consider heading over for breakfast (bagels), a coffee (try Cafe Olimpico), and a French pastry from Première Moisson.
[Photos: Daily Eater/Kettlemans Bagels]