Montreal-style bagels handmade fresh every day at Myer's Bagels! Here's a peek at my family's favorite bagel place.
We love bagels from Myer's! We've been taking our kids there for a very long time: "Since they were both in diapers!" Lloyd remarked pointing at our kids who are now in college and high school - and they both blushed at the mention of diapers.
Lloyd Squiers is the friendly, easy-going, Canadiens-loving, gregarious owner who churns out thousands of Montreal-style bagels every day: all hand-rolled and baked in a wood-fired oven.
What is Myer's Bagels?
Myer's Bagel Bakery is down a dirt driveway off of Pine Street in Burlington, its entryway sandwiched between a used book & record shop and a hip, second-hand furniture store. Lloyd and his bagels have been in this space for as long as we can remember. When you walk through the door you are just a hop-over-the counter away from a massive wood-burning oven.
To one side of the oven is a long table where an enormous slab of dough rests, and next to that a vat of boiling water. On the other side is a long metal chute into which bagels are flung, hot from the fire.
Long planks (eight or ten feet) with blackened, narrow ends wait by the oven. Lloyd uses the planks to send the bagels lined up on the narrow board into the oven and then to retrieve them when done.
The rest of the space houses a bakery and café where the bagels get sliced, toasted, spread with cream cheese, or transformed into fantastic sandwiches.
We've eaten here with our kids for a long time
When our kids were very little and we brought them to Myer's, Lloyd would give them long ropes of bagel dough to play with and roll at the table while we ate. In the summer they'd bring the dough home, grimy from an hour in their hands. They'd place the ragged rings on our driveway to bake in the sun—for the seagulls to eat!
Not long ago Lloyd sent a shipment of fresh, assorted bagels to our daughter at college, so she could get her Myer's fix way down in Rhode Island!
On another day while eating at Myer's, one of the blackened planks from the oven appeared over our table, deftly maneuvered by playful Lloyd between the coffee pots and napkin holders, to deliver extra bagels to us hot from the oven!
We remember a brief period when there was no café at all—but Lloyd was still there by the light of the wood fire, rolling and baking bagels to distribute to grocery stores. We couldn't sit down with a toasted bagel and crossword puzzle on those days, but we did get to take home big bags of still-hot bagels!
The food from the cafe
In addition to bagel sandwiches, there are delicious bakery items and the offerings are always changing. On one visit our son had a sweet, flaky homemade "Pop-Tart", with raspberry filling.
One of my bakery favorites is a Lavender Bouchon. Lloyd told me the name means "cork" in French, and this little delicacy does look like a Champagne cork, with a puffy top over a slender stem. It was muffin-like but denser, very moist, and with a thick crust of sugar over the entire surface.
Loaded with lavender flavor, the aroma always makes me swoon. It is incredible, sublime. And I always end up devouring that beautiful pastry before remembering to snap a picture of it.
And, of course, the bagels
Speaking of incredible and sublime, back to the bagels!
What makes these bagels Montreal-style is that when the hand-shaped, dough circles go in for a boil, they get extra sweetness and flavor from honey in the water. The honey also makes the surface tacky, so that toppings can take hold: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and spices. There are batches made with different local craft brews, and the varieties change constantly!
Baking the bagels in a wood-burning oven is the other hallmark of a really good Montreal-style bagel. The bagels emerge from the oven perfectly browned, toasty and chewy, with the toppings toasted as well.
Our favorite bagel at Myer's, hands down, is the famous Montreal Spice.
It is flavorful, savory, and so good when toasted and slathered with cream cheese. Plain cream cheese works just fine, but there is also Montreal Spice cream cheese if you want to double down.
Once I had Sriracha cream cheese with a Montreal Spice and the extra bite from the hot sauce was quite good, too!
The most difficult thing about visiting Myer's is controlling our appetite since we always get there in the morning having eaten nothing. These bagels are not the doughy, size-of-a-baby's-head bagels found in regular bagel bakeries in the area: they're smaller, chewier, and much more memorable.
Because they are not the size of a baby's head, it is always very easy to convince ourselves that we need two. And when those are gone then we go back up for two more.
That's alright: greedily downing loads of Myer's bagels is a problem I am happy to have. Sweetening the deal even further is that there is always plenty of hot coffee to consume along with the bagels, and a crossword puzzle to noodle over together.
Over the last 20 years or so that we have been going to Myer's the neighborhood around it has changed quite a bit. In the old days Pine Street was rather forgettable, but now it's thriving. It boasts galleries, local artisans, food trucks, an annual Art Hop, several breweries like Queen City, Zero Gravity and Citizen Cider, Lake Champlain Chocolates, and foodie-frequented eateries like The Great Northern and Arts Riot.
The Myer's Bagels that we know and love fits in just as easily now as it did then. It is so nice to go there and experience the same warm and cozy space and, of course, the best bagels anywhere!
And when in Burlington, VT visit Myer's Bagels at 377 Pine Street!
I love finding good eats on the road—read about other Delectable Destinations here and abroad!
This post was originally published in 2015.