Rainbow food is all the rage right now, food dyed various colours to present a cartoonish appearance. This is currently popular down south and oversees in the form of noodles, cheeses in grilled sandwiches, drinks in layers, and various desserts. But now Brooklyn isn’t the only ones to have a rainbow bagel that they can’t keep in stock. Say hello to Vancouver’s answer to the rainbow food trend: “Rosemary Rocksalt’s” rainbow bagel.
But note, their regular bagels are worth checking out too. They boil and bake authentic Montreal style bagels in house, out in the open. Their wood fire and brick build oven promises that “happiness is a warm bagel”. And after trying one fresh from it, I would agree. Each bagel stops here for an even bake before being flipped on to their chute, and left to cool in batches, on stainless steel.
Their location is perfect. A quick pause on the corner of Broadway and Main, with a bus stop right up front; and across the street, a parking lot. With such conveniences, there is no reason for you not to stop by for a snack or a proper breakfast and/or lunch with them.
Their exterior said it all with photos of various blown up bagels behind a red background, and the promise of “amazing bagels” on their awning. Typically buying my bagels wrapped in cellophane from any grocery store, getting them fresh-made on the day here, was already a step up.
They did well with their limited space incorporating functionality with some unique graphics. From their vaulted ceiling hung orange wicker balls, clinging on by a cable, supporting a light bulb. On the right was a mural that stretched the length of the cafe. It was a linear sketch that celebrated the union of Montreal smoke meat and bagels with Winnipeg style cream cheese. It included a bagel ninja and positive though bubbles with happy quotes. Adjacent to it was a detailed thought map drawn on chalkboard paint. Going through it and its yes and no questions helped you come to the conclusion of which bagel to get. But I was on a mission and didn’t need the help.
The menu was several boards suspended behind the counter. It said a lot, but without much detail. If it was crowded in the shop, I wouldn’t be able to see all the displays, and would need to rely on the menu to list all bagel and cream cheese flavour options. It didn’t do that, nor did their online presence really advertise anything on their menu. I did like how they advertised taking a dozen of their bagels home. Two dozen, one dozen, half and dozen, and the cost to take a trip to Montreal to get a dozen bagels.
You enter and to your right is their selection of bagels, perfectly stacked in wooden boxes. With a clear view from the sidewalk, you could order by looking and pointing from their take out window, so should they choose to man it.
These were your regular bagels in comforting colours and flavours like cinnamon, sesame, multigrain, poppy seed, everything, and plain. They even had a few “almost gluten free” options. And by looks of things, these were a mix of the ones above. But really could someone with gluten allergies take a risk on “almost gluten?”
Next to the bread boxes were their homemade “Winnipeg style” cream cheese in a closed off and cooled showcase. Because what’s a bagel without cream cheese? At $4.95 a tub, it’s not much more than the mass produced Philly cream cheese contains that I buy from my local grocery. But these were lusciously smooth and easily spreadable; in fun flavours like dill and vegetable, with even low fat “lite” options available.
I grabbed a plastic container of their vegetable spread made with carrot, green onion, black pepper, garlic, and dill. This I would later enjoy with my savoury bagels. For the sweet rainbow ones I went with what the sign recommend: their “orange creamsicle”. This was a cream cheese mixture made with icing sugar and orange syrup. Given the colour of the rainbow bagel and such vibrantly being associated with desserts, the orange cream cheese definitely went nicely with it for a sweet dessert bagel feel.
As for the bagels, I decided to pick up a few of the more unique savoury ones first. The “sundried tomato” was the most fragrant. Plenty of herbs and zesty tomato gave it the ability to carry itself, without a cheese or butter spread. But that’s not how I had mine, because who eats a bagel without a filling?
The unlisted “Feature bagel” was a “spinach and feta”. All the health benefits of a leafy green, without having to see it or taste its texture was great for me. The feta was definitely more pronounced than the vegetable. I wouldn’t recommend it by its self. Taking a plain bite, it needed something else. It needed a spread, like one of their savoury homemade flavoured cream cheeses that I bought.
Their signature and name sake bagel was the “Rosemary Rocksalt”. Visual with chunks of salt on top, and pines of Rosemary littered throughout in specks of green. It had a nice smokey quality to it. In hind sight I wish I had this one for here, as “lox & cream cheese”. The herbaceous-ness of the bagel would have been complimentary to the fresh wild BC sockeye salmon, cream cheese, red onions, and capers. All of which they also sold sealed and ready to take home, should I crave and want to duplicate it for myself.
And if I was dining in, I would have had my bagel coming to me, severed open faced with my chosen topping. They did this on their specially branded, wood boards, that came with two round indents. These slots were the perfect size to rest a round bagel half within.
As for other bagel and topping combinations: I would recommend the option of peanut butter alone or with jelly on their cinnamon bagel. And just some butter with the everything bagel, to take note of all its seasonings.
If you are looking for something heavier, they also make their bagels into sandwiches. Like the “jalapeño melt” with real jalapeños and the “club” with smoke meat and turkey breast. The “Montreal smoke meat” would have went great with the “sundried tomato” bagel. They actually advertised that they fly their smoke meat in fresh from Montreal. The “vegetarian” with lettuce, green pepper, tomato, and cucumber would have paired well with the “spinach and feta feature”. And I would go for the sesame when looking for a light accent on a classic turkey breast. They also had breakfast options all day with cheese and egg on anything. It was all a choose your own adventure of toppings, cream cheeses and bagels. There were plenty of combinations to keep things fresh.
And now for the reason why I came in the first place: The rainbow bagels were kept separately, impulse add-on by the cash desk. They certainly caught your attention. Not as neon and bold as the ones from Brooklyn, but they made you happy seeing them just the same. No two bagels were alike were alike, no two bagels were shaped the same or dyed the same.
They were packaged for me warm. A warmth that lingered when I brought the home and noticed the paper bag moist with condensation and the plastic bag wet with steam. Shame, I wouldn’t be eating them all right away as they were light and spongy, and just the best texture of any bagel I have ever had. However I found them just as good a few hours later and even better toasted for a crunch. Though I was disappointed in myself for keeping them in the bag for too long, allowing them to be flatten and losing their shape.
When I had them with the “orange creamsicle” flavoured cream cheese, I added the sprinkles in as well for a more of a dessert feel. The spread is what really made this bagel and gave it its flavour. Aside from their colouring, it was just a regular plain flavoured bagel. But for folks like me, who appreciate the novelty and the need to be stimulated visually, there will definitely be a place for a bagel like this in Vancouver’s food frontier.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I will definitely be recommending them for some of the best bagels in town. However, as for the rainbow one, after my initial taste and photo, I don’t think I need to revisit it again. I prefer their more flavourful savoury selections. But would like them to reinvent their rainbow bagels regularly to have me and other customer continue to return month after month. They could do this creating different colour combinations with bagel and cream cheese flavour pairings. Just for them to step up and take the rainbow bagel trend to the next level. Don’t deny your cravings.