When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out — and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Restaurant: Odelay Bagel Co.
Location: 12020 S. Warner Elliot Loop
Open: About five months
Eats: Bagels, coffee, hummus
Breakfast foods don't really get more divisive than the bagel. For some, it's a bready vehicle for flavored cream cheese. For others, it's a sacred institution with wrong ways of doing things and right ways of doing things and nothing in between will do. As you might imagine, there are few places that appease both camps — though if such a place does exist, it might be Odelay Bagel Co. in Ahwatukee.
Located in a strip mall under an orange sign that just reads "Bagels and Coffee," Odelay Bagel Co. has been soft-open since early June but held its official grand opening in mid-October. Owner and self-taught bagel maker Ryan Probst is behind the operation and brings experience working for Tempe's Jonathan Robins Bakery to the endeavor. On our visit, Probst was playing baker, barista, and cashier all at once — and even made time to deliver a ball of uncooked bagel dough to our table for inspection, along with a short explanation about the difficulties of making good, fresh bagels.
The menu at Odelay is simple: $1.75 for a bagel, $2.25 for a bagel and schmear, and $6.50 for a bagel with lox (which includes schmear, tomato, red onion, lox, and capers). Of course, there also are options for a half-dozen and dozen bagels to go.
On our visit, Odelay offered 15 types of bagels including classics like salt and sesame seed as well as less-expected flavors, including jalapeño cheddar and black pepper Parmesan. Non-traditionalists will probably appreciate options like chocolate chip, blueberry, and honey whole wheat — as well as Odelay's list of 10 housemade schmears. Along with plain and "low phat," you can load up your bagel with spinach and feta, horseradish bacon, strawberry, or garden veggie cream cheese.
At the suggestion of an employee, we started with an asiago bagel toasted and spread with garlic Sriracha schmear. We weren't led astray. In fact, the warm, cheesy dough and just the right amount of spicy cream cheese made for an instantly addicting combination. Though the schmear packed a strong garlic punch (thanks to pieces of garlic scattered throughout), there was just enough heat to wake up your tastebuds without terrifying them for the rest of the day. And with a nice crust and a dense, doughy interior, Odelay's asiago bagel met our criteria for genuine bagel-ness.
When it came to the bagel and lox, we were perfectly satisfied with Odelay's combination of plain cream cheese, sliced tomato, salmon, and capers. The fish was fresh and in perfect balance with the other toppings, though we might have appreciated just a little more schmear. The only flaw with the experience came from the bagel itself. We chose a black pepper Parmesan bagel as the base, which proved to be more Parmesan than black pepper and the salty/cheesy flavors just didn't jibe with the lox.
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Next time, we're going with the more obvious option: an everything bagel. Odelay's Errythang bagel features a thick covering of sesame and poppy seeds and onions and garlic on both the top and bottom, making it a perfect vehicle for lox. (Who wants lox on half an everything bagel and half of a plain bagel that may or may not have some seeds stuck on here and there?) Its crunchy exterior loses minimal amounts of toppings as you eat and the bready interior provides the ideal contrast of textures.
You can wash down your carbs and cream cheese with a full coffee menu. To go with a honey whole wheat bagel with honey almond cream cheese you may want Odelay's pumpkin pie latte, while more serious coffee nerds will probably opt for a cup of single original Mexican Nayarit.
Odelay takes itself seriously — but not so seriously that you have to be ashamed for wanting a cinnamon raisin bagel and extra cinnamon schmear every once in a while. It's a place where bagel purists can find a fresh onion bagel with a heavy coating of dehydrated veggie and a pleasant amount of pull. It's also a place for an unexpectedly good mocha and, yes, Sriracha cream cheese.