Bagel Kitchen might be a stop along the journey, but never the destination


Natalie Mix

What was left of our bagels and coffee shortly before we left

While I’ve never been one for breakfast or predictable routines, recently, my morning cup of coffee and blueberry bagel have been the exception to that rule. 

I have the appetite of a small bird on a good day, so in nearly every setting, a bagel is a good choice if I’m looking to set attainable goals and not waste food. 

With all this in mind, Bagel Kitchen in Gaslight Village seemed promising, so my friend, Lorelei, and I decided to let it be our first stop on our Saturday thrifting excursion. 

Tucked into a strip of shops on Wealthy St, as we raced through the cold from our too-far-away parking spot, the warmth of the little bagel shop welcomed us in. A smattering of people were collected inside the small, cool-toned space, enough to inspire some level of confidence in the reputability of Bagel Kitchen, but not enough to keep us waiting for long. 

The window next to our table (Natalie Mix)

We settled on our order—a Brown Sugar & Sea Salt Latte for Lorelei, a Chai Tea Latte and the Ramona bagel sandwich for me, and three flavored bagels with cream cheese to split between us—and then we found a table gently shrouded by the sunlight from the window framing it. 

However, from the first sips of our drinks, we could tell the experience was going to be underwhelming. 

My Chai Tea Latte tasted water down and distinctly unlike chai, rather like somebody had tossed a handful of random spices into hot water. While I tried to give it a chance, the longer I sat with it, the more creatively crude the similes that Lorelei and I were crafting to describe its flavor became.

I personally preferred the flavor of Lorelei’s Brown Sugar & Sea Salt Latte—slightly salty and slightly sweet from the first few sips—but she described it as not having much flavor at all and was similarly dissatisfied. 

Our order when it arrived (Natalie Mix)

The bagels, ready shortly after, colored us another shade of unimpressed.

We ordered an everything bagel, a cranberry walnut bagel, and a cinnamon raisin bagel, all with plain cream cheese. There was nothing necessarily wrong with any of them; they simply delivered sweeping blandness that had both Lorelei and I going, “I guess that’s a bagel.”

The cranberry walnut and cinnamon raisin bagels didn’t even have enough distinct flavor on their own to really distinguish them from one another; given a blind taste test, I’m not sure I could’ve told you which was which. 

My friend and fellow critic, Lorelei (Natalie Mix)

My sandwich, the Ramona, was of minor consolation. It was cucumber, tomato, and vegetable cream cheese on a bagel of my choice, which was cheddar. I’m undeniably a picky eater, so the simple combination was reassuring, and I ate almost half of it before I got full, with the leftovers to snack on throughout the day. 

The only caveat was what I assumed was either tomato or cucumber juice dripping all over my hands while I tried to eat it. 

As we cleaned up the half-eaten bagels that littered our table afterwards, the consensus that Lorelei and I came to was this: if we were spending the day in East Grand Rapids and got hungry, we might stop into Bagel Kitchen again—especially as I am ever the optimist and am convinced that something else on the expansive menu might win me over—but we couldn’t see ourselves ever going out of our way to seek out the Bagel Kitchen. 

Unfortunately, it’s far more of a stop along the way than a destination.