DGS Delicatessen co-owner Nick Wiseman has long been a loyal member of Team Montreal Bagel. When he and cousin/co-owner David Wiseman opened the Dupont restaurant in 2012, they sampled bagels near and far and concluded that no local bagel measured up.
So, they opted to import half-cooked rounds from famed bagelry St-Viateur in Montreal, which were finished in-house. Montreal bagels seemed the ideal base for showcasing the restaurant’s whitefish and smoked salmon, rather than overshadowing them like larger, doughier New York bagels might.
But now, the restaurant is changing allegiances. DGS Delicatessen has officially switched to local Bullfrog Bagels as it rolls out a new lunch counter sandwich menu. The bagels will also be available by the dozen on weekends.
“It was a long and hard fought battle, but we’ve ceded,” Wiseman says. “I just have been such a staunch defender of the Montreal bagel, and I’ve had so many friends and family scream at me, ‘You need another bagel!’”
Wiseman also initially stayed away from New York-style bagels in part because it’s challenging to compete with diners’ nostalgia for them. “The New York bagel, it is a tough one,” he says. “There’s so many memories. We hear it all the time: ‘Well, there’s this place in New Jersey…’” D.C. doesn’t get as many people lamenting, “Well, there’s this place in Montreal…”
But Bullfrog Bagels, which began operating in 2014, ultimately hit all the right spots: slow-fermented, hand-rolled, and D.C.-made.
“I don’t think until Bullfrog came around there was a great bagel in Washington,” Wiseman claims. “And I don’t think it’s the water. It’s the time and attention to the details.”
Perhaps most importantly, Bullfrog’s bagels are better suited for building DGS Delicatessen’s latest offering: bagel sandwiches. New menu items include one sandwich with lox, eggs, and caramelized onions, and another with a fried egg, pastrami, and hollandaise. Montreal bagels are just too small with too big of a hole to construct the bagel perfect sandwich.
That’s not to say DGS Delicatessen is completely breaking up with the Canadian staple. Now, though, it’s more of a sidepiece. Wiseman says some St-Viateur bagels will be available upon request only.
“There’s a loyal group of people that are just very connected to their Montreal bagel,” he says.