I happen to be very ‘into’ bagels and consider Montreal bagels to be the best I’ve ever had however I’ve never had a New York Bagel. I’m reading this article by Martin Connelly called Bagels, Toasted which discusses the great baked invention of The Bagel.
As a rule, New York bagels are salty and boiled in an alkaline water (made so through the addition of baking soda or lye). Montreal bagels are a little sweeter, boiled in a honey water, and smaller, too. Ed Levine, founder of the Serious Eats blog and the champion of New York bagels, suggests that the perfect bagel is 4 oz. Saul Restrepo, a baker at the famous St. Viateur bagel house in Montreal, counters that 3 oz. is just right. Some New York bagels are made with eggs, as are the noted Montreal bagels, so this comes out as a draw—though it should be noted that traditionally bagels and egg bagels have been distinct entities.
I called the best person I could think of to weigh in on the argument. Essayist Adam Gopnik spent much of his youth in Montreal and much of his adult life in the shining metropolis of New York, and he told me that there was no question as to the winner of a New York-Montreal bagel battle. “I have few fixed convictions in life, but one of them is that Montreal bagels are not just better than New York bagels or any other bagels, they’re so much better that I’m on kind of permanent house arrest about eating any other kind of bagel—I just can’t eat a New York bagel. If you toast it and there’s enough cream cheese and nova on it, it’s tolerable, but it just isn’t a bagel.”