Blueberry bagels are definitely not on the menu at Meshuggah Bagels.
But no matter: Hardcore bagel fans are spurring the growth of the only New York-style, kosher-certified bagels sold in Kansas City, with a second Meshuggah’s retail location opening last week and a third slated for fall.
“We have the highest level of kosher certification,” says Janna Linde, who co-owns the business with her husband, Pete.
When I stopped by the 7096 W. 105th St. location in Overland Park at lunchtime, I got to peek behind the scenes as Pete Linde, a former New Yorker, fed chunks of dough through the extruding machine. The dough rings came out of the canvas chute, and a worker placed them on baking trays to rise overnight. The next morning they will be boiled and baked.
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As a batch of bialys came out of the oven, Janna insisted I try one while still warm. The floury round ($1.50) is slightly heavier and flatter than a bagel and comes with a depression instead of a hole. The depression is filled with caramelized onion and poppy seeds.
I’d never been a huge fan — until Janna offered to slather it with butter. It made all the difference.
If you’d told the Lindes in March 2016 that they were on their way to cornering the kosher bagel market, they would have told you “meshuggah” — a word that means “crazy” in Yiddish. (Visitors to the website get a rousing “Fiddler on the Roof”-style chorus of “Meshuggah! Meshuggah! Craaaa-zzz-y kosher bagels!” on a loop.)
Pete, who worked as an engineer at the Ford Claycomo plant, quit his job a month after the couple opened their midtown location at 1208 W. 39th St. Their Overland Park location gives the business proximity to the local Jewish community and easy highway access, he said.
The Lindes also plan to open this fall in Liberty Commons at Interstate 35 and Missouri 152.
The bagels produced at their original wholesale bakery in Pleasant Valley, which opened in fall 2015, are sold at Dean & DeLuca, through Shatto home delivery, at The Corner Restaurant in Westport (toasted Meshuggah bagel with egg, cream cheese schmear, bacon, avocado-lime mousse) and Meriwether’s Coffee Shop and Cafe in Leavenworth (plain, poppyseed, sesame and everything bagel with a choice of cream cheese flavors).
The Overland Park cafe gives the couple space to add “bagel boards” to the menu. The boards allow customers to choose their own bagel, fish and schmear combination.
I went for the pastrami-cured nova (cured, then cold smoked ) salmon bagel board ($12.95), which features a bagel (choose from plain, everything, poppy seed, sesame seed, onion, garlic, salt, rye, cinnamon raisin, whole wheat) along with several pale-pink ribbons of salmon flown in from a Jewish delicatessen in New York City.
Nova salmon is the mildest of the smoked salmons. Its silky texture pairs superbly with the slight crunch of the everything bagel’s seeded exterior. The chewiness of the yeasty interior showcased at Meshuggah Bagels is as good as any I’ve sampled fresh from a deli in Brooklyn.
You can also substitute deli-made whitefish salad (think tuna fish, only more smoky and oily, and swimming, as it should be, in mayo), smoked nova salmon filet or salty lox filet. Accompaniments include a schmear of cream cheese of your choice, a slice of tomato, red onion rings and a more than generous spoonful of jumbo capers. If I had a criticism, it would be the tomato was out of season so its role was to moisten rather than add robust garden flavor.
I went with the “toasted everything” schmear for layers of flavor, but you can also get rosemary garlic, scallion, veggie, garlic and herb, jalapeno and dirty martini.
The board offers a different salmon-to-bagel ratio than the sandwich available at the 39th Street location.
“We watched people and the first thing they did was unwrap their sandwich and move things around because they wanted to eat it open face,” Pete said. “This allows them to make it their own way. We give them a little more fish than would be on the sandwich.”
Which is funny, because my son and I were trying to figure out the best way to share: Make the sandwich, then cut it, or go for an open face split? I thought sandwich would be neater, keeping the tomato, onion and capers in their place. But my son preferred open face so he could control the schmear because he likes a thin spread and I layer thick.
By splitting the board, we had room for a “dessert” bagel ($4.25): We went with the new flavors — Oreo cheesecake cream cheese (bits of the famous sandwich cookie swirled in) and German chocolate (with flecks of coconut) — but there is also a cinnamon sugar option.
The menu also includes medium or dark roast coffee and handcrafted cold brew by midtown-based Maps Coffee Roasters, fruit juices, fountain drinks and milk.
Customers can sit at wooden tables set with vases of fresh flowers to eat their bagels. The parchment-colored walls are decorated with antique wooden baking tools, and the space is lit by wrought-iron chandeliers for an old-world feel in a strip mall.
Janna says some customers have commented that their bagels are expensive: $1.50 per bagel or $12.50 per dozen. But she points out their bagels are fresh, never frozen, and made from a simple list of high-quality ingredients: artisan flour, yeast, malt, sugar and salt.
They are also boiled before baking, a crucial step to offer a texture New York bagel connoisseurs call the perfect “chew.”
“We’re generally excited about this location,” even if some customers come in asking for blueberry bagels, Janna said. “My only thing is I don’t want to be competing with Einstein Bros. It’s apples and oranges.”
Jill Wendholt Silva is The Star’s James Beard award-winning food editor. Reach her on Facebook, @kcstarfood on Twitter and @jillwsilva on Instagram.
7096 W. 105th St., Overland Park. 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Closed Mondays. meshuggahbagels.com