Like its name, the interior space of Bagel Hole in Brooklyn's nebulous South Slope neighborhood isn't immediately appealing. But the namesake product sure is. In fact, it's one of the best wheels of baked dough in all of Kings County. What makes these bagels so praiseworthy that even New York's mayor has weighed in? Why, it's the masterful contrast between crisp shell and chewy interior — the elusive characteristic that transforms pedestrian bread roll into regional delicacy. Getting there requires technical wizardry and uncompromising freshness. Bagel Hole may have opened in 1985, but bagels here are made the old-fashioned way: They're hand-rolled, they're boiled before baking, and they are never served more than an hour removed from their time in the oven. You walk in and smell the quality. You see it on the steamed windows. Ten standard varieties are all priced at a buck; raisin and egg bagels warrant a nickel more. Superior specimens demand an exceptional schmear, and Bagel Hole delivers with an assortment of homemade spreads. The lox and lox spread are worthy, but nothing beats the whitefish: gentle washes of brine and umami delivered with a smooth, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Just don't expect to be pampered. Plowing through a devout and hungry customer base requires unapologetic efficiency. Service can be curt, and you might have to yell out your order. You might note that the place possesses nary an appliance with which to toast your bagel. But as any New Yorker knows, bagels are meant to be enjoyed fresh from the oven.
© 2015 Village Voice, LLC, All Rights Reserved