Us working stiffs in Harbor East have noticed that the Harbor East Deli has been closed for quite some time for a number of renovations, including the addition of a breakfast menu. As there is only so much of the Whole Foods breakfast bar a person can take, I wandered down the block this morning to check it out.
To attest to the newness of the breakfast menu, it is neatly typed up on standard office copy paper, not the usual trifold semi-gloss of their deli and pizzeria menu. And, it consists of just what you would expect - egg sandwiches, omelets, pancakes, and a number of side items that you can order a la carte. Included among the breakfast sandwiches was one of my personal favorites - bagel and lox.
The Nova Bagel as presented for take out
For $7.99, the Nova Bagel is a generous portion of lox on a toasted bagel of your choice, along with cream cheese, sliced tomato, read onion, and lettuce. I ordered mine on another personal favorite - the Everything bagel.
Total time from order to service was a tidy 7 minutes. This is good time for a made-to-order breakfast and got me back to my desk and working in about the same time it takes me to navigate Whole Foods, yet much quicker than the walk down to the Legg Mason cafeteria.
My Nova bagel was served closed face. Anyone who has eaten a closed face sandwich on a bagel knows you need a pretty large jaw expansion to do this. Here's a helpful hint that should be standard operating procedure for a sandwich shop: cut it in half. Which I did. At my desk. With a plastic take out knife. But I managed. While it won't make the sandwich any shorter, it will provide a point of entry and will make the whole thing easier to handle.
Cut in half, like all sandwiches should be
As mentioned above, the portion of lox was indeed generous but also fairly decent with a smooth, buttery texture and just a slightly salty taste. The tomato was buried under the lox and went relatively unnoticed. But, this being early April, I didn't really mind. As I've noted before, tomatoes this time of year tend to be sad and flavorless, and I'd rather have less of them until summer.
Several very nice leaves of green leaf lettuce topped the lox. While I was impressed with both quality and quantity, I don't think they did much for the sandwich, and I quickly removed them.
The red onion is always a bit of a zinger for a bagel with lox. If the slices are cut too thick or you use too much, it will overpower the salty lox and cream cheese. Harbor East Deli got it right and provided just enough red onion sliced so thin you can almost see through it. The zesty, slightly bitter flavor of the onion provided just a little sharp edge but otherwise blended in perfectly with the rest of the sandwich and did not upset my sensitive tummy.
All Harbor East Deli breakfast items come with a side of "home fries". And I must use quotes on that because that is what the menu calls them when in reality they are pre-cut potato cubes reheated on the griddle with a little onion. These are not home fries, and I ignored them. This is not an indictment of Harbor East Deli, but a symptom of a state-wide problem with breakfast in Maryland. (Oh, Maryland, my Maryland, why can't you figure out how to cook breakfast potatoes?) Really, if anyone out there knows anyplace in Baltimore that serves decent breakfast potatoes, please share in the Comments section below.
No breakfast is complete without a cup of joe. I got a large coffee for $2.75. This was not some gourmet coffee but a good old fashioned cup of standard sandwich shop mud. I only wonder what happened to those standard sandwich shop coffee prices. While coffee has always been one of the cheapest items for restaurants to provide (think free refills), it seems that Starbucks has altered our collective sense of what a cup of the stuff should cost.
Overall, I was pretty satisfied with my breakfast. Located at 1006 Aliceanna Street in Baltimore's Harbor East neighborhood, Harbor East Deli opens at 7:30 for breakfast. The breakfast menu can be found on the counter, and they don't mind if you take one with you.