Every time my family visited my grandparents, who retired and moved to Florida in 1983, we would always stop in for breakfast at least one morning at a local bagel place. Over the years we visited Inverrary Bagel, the Bagel Nook, and the Bagel Tree, as well as quite a few others whose names escape me at the moment but which undoubtedly had the word "bagel" somewhere in their names.
So it only made sense that when the family reconvened in Florida one last time, now with the sad task of cleaning out my grandparents' apartment after their too-close deaths in July and August, that we would head to the Bagel Tree.
It's in a strip mall, like so much of South Florida.
It's also seat yourself, since the almost entirely elderly clientele, many of whom were originally from New York, has next to no patience. (Approved method of getting your coffee refilled at the Bagel Tree is to hold up your empty mug and shout "MISS!")
The place hasn't changed a lick in the 15 or 20 years we've been going there, though I do think the silk flowers are often refreshed.
Unsurprisingly, I usually order something that comes with a bagel - though I should tell you that their bialys are also quite good. They also sell a long, thin twist of bread, about which I asked, thinking the name would be exotically Polish or Yiddish. Turns out it's a bread stick.
Papa always got the French toast, and Granny loved their morning eggs special, which was $3. Ah, Florida prices.
This time, Logan and I shared a salad platter. We chose salty, creamy whitefish salad, which seemed to be made almost purely of smoked whitefish pulled from the skin and mashed with a fork, and sweet, booze-spiked chicken liver, with its slight iron flavor. My aunt Ellen's bagels and lox are in the background.
We also couldn't pass up the sign at the front advertising "Fresh Baked Potato Knishes", so we got one to share.
The knishes were different than the ones I'd enjoyed before in Florida, flatter and more crisped on the outside. The mashed potatoes inside were thinly spread, making a nice soft counterpoint to the slight crunch of the dough.
After eating a quick lunch, you pay at the counter. Logan got snipped at by an ornery customer and called "Sonny" for moving too slowly.
I was so glad we took the time to come by here for a bagel during what was a very difficult weekend. It allowed me to remember all the great times we'd had as a bagel-eating family during the happier years of Granny and Papa's Florida retirement. The moment was bittersweet, but welcome. Thanks, Bagel Tree.
The Bagel Tree is located at 7185 West Oakland Park Boulevard in Lauderhill, Florida. 954.749.7191.