I ordered a salt bagel with jalepeño schmear, but received cheddar and jalepeño instead. Doom, I thought.

And today was hot, like glasses-fog-up-outside kind of hot. But rule number one is

Always toast the damn bagel.

(paraphrased from the actual rules)

So I got a toasted salt bagel with cheddar and jalepeño cream cheese. The heat from the wrapped food radiated through my hand as the nice man behind the counter handed it to me.

I’ve eaten enough bagels to know that personal expectations are important so I removed the bagel from the wrapper to inspect, that I might expect properly.

The salting of a bagel is a multidimensional art, a true exploration into the nuances of sodium. Large crystals are good, though extra large rocks can impede proper chewing. There should also be lots of them. A bagel with a single sprinkling of salt is not a salt bagel. That is a plain bagel. At the same time, if you eat an over salted bagel the roof of your mouth will suffer greater damage than that time you licked a massive jawbreaker in the 4th grade on your class trip to “Gold Country”.

I felt the hope rising in my throat, this bagel had scored high on the salt index. I lifted it to my lips and took the first bite, the best bite of any bagel.

I stopped, looked around, and felt a sense of bewilderment. The primary color signage, long hours and hokey font had decieved me; Terrace Bagels’ toasting game was on fucking point.

This was a nearly perfectly toasted bagel. The inner surface was crispy and the mantel was soft and warm from inside to out. A well toasted bagel will maintain its shape during eating and reduce the schmear exhaust that comes out the opposite side. The first rule of bageldom is about toasting bagels, because toasting fucking matters.

This bagel was so well toasted that it made up for its other deficiencies. It turned out that the bagel was salted along that line between savory and carnival pretzel, probably a bit too close to the pretzel. And the schmear was over-applied, though remained managable during the entire course of consumption. And, it cost over $4 for a damn bagel with flavored schmear.

On the whole though, if you’re ever near the 15th St subway stop, do yourself a favor and grab a little morning nosh.