Since September, baker Molly Westman tested no less than 75 bagel recipes. It was only in recent weeks that she hit upon the winner—“it stands up like a real bagel should”—and now the coffee and bagel shop that bears her name is officially open for business.
Westman’s Bagel and Coffee occupies the walkup counter at 1509 East Madison, a humble spot with a surprisingly noble lineage that includes Little Uncle and Manu’s Bodegita. Now open Monday through Friday at 7am, it serves a half-dozen varieties of Westman’s bagels, plus plenty of schmears. Look for flavors like sesame, salt, pumpernickel, and the classic “everything,” made with spices from Villa Jerada. In other words, don’t come here expecting sugar bomb bagels, though there is a version made with cinnamon and currants.
This New York–inspired bagelry began, as fate would have it, with a woman known for marvelous tacos and tortas. Monica Dimas took over the counter with dreams of bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches, plus bagels. A friend connected her with Westman, a bagel-loving Macrina alum. The original vision wasn’t a Jewish deli, per se, but when your baker hails from deli-loving South Florida, it’s no surprise babka and rugelach, and whitefish salad also made it on the menu, plus black and white cookies. Westman makes challah on Fridays (she’s especially excited about the sea salt and fennel version) and bialys when time and tiny kitchen space allow. "Quantity will be our biggest challenge," she says, standing in the tiny alcove where baking happens.
The titular coffee comes from Caffe Vita, and the Westman's website has the menu, including that bacon-egg-cheese sandwich that launched Dimas's bagel-related dreams.