Goldbergs vs BB’s – Tale of the tape

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

Most of the restaurant talk this week has revolved around Avalon of course. Everyone is abuzz about things like poutine with duck fat fries, burgers at Bocado and $20 taco plates from Ford Fry. Somewhere lost in the conversation is Goldbergs. We’ve got another water boiled bagel joint in town. That means a BB’s comparison is in order.

BBs vs Goldbergs

BB’s on left, Goldbergs on right. Notice residue from unwrapped everything bagel.

I hatched up this plan with a coworker. Known to most as simply “Murph”, the Jersey native will be perfect to join me in this project. Here’s what we did. One morning this week I hit Goldbergs while he went to BB’s on McFarland. We both ordered exactly the same thing – a plain bagel, an everything and some regular and vegetable cream cheeses. We spread out our bagel loot in a breakroom at the office along with a camera and ruler. After measuring, photographing and comparing receipts we set out to eating. Here’s what we found.

At five inches wide by about three and a half, these carbohydrate grenades measure in at exactly the same size. But on physical appearance, BB’s has it. Their regular bagel is golden brown compared to pale white from Goldbergs. The everything looked better as well. There’s simply more everything on the BB’s everything as it’s completely covered. But while Goldbergs lacks some toppings, their mixture contains caraway seeds. Even a few of these little guys changes the flavor of the bagel in a big way. Perhaps it’s personal preference but I didn’t care for them at all. The caraway was enough of a turnoff to keep me away from Goldberg’s everything in the future.

But let’s talk about texture. It only took one bite of the Goldberg bagel to tell it wasn’t there. The bagel lacked that chewy exterior which is a signature feature of water boiled bagels. It bordered on being a little doughy and undercooked. Thinking that perhaps I got the runt of the litter that day, I returned later in the week to try a Goldberg plain again. It was a little better but that chew simply isn’t there.

Bagel aftermath

The bagel battle aftermath

It’s possible that Goldbergs needs time. Many restaurants at Avalon are not firing on all cylinders at this point. BB’s has had years now to perfect their process. This week’s bagel from them was worlds better than that from Goldbergs but not the best I can remember from their shop.

We’ll call the cream cheese battle a draw, at least for the plain variety. They were indistinguishable to me. Murph gave BB’s the nod for the veggie cream cheese.

Oddly enough our order was more expensive at BB’s, $6.61 versus $5.68 for the same thing at Goldbergs. The cream cheese is very expensive at BB’s and you get less of it compared to Goldbergs. But it’s interesting that BB’s costs more considering the rent at Avalon is probably ten times what it is on nasty McFarland Parkway.

And speaking of nasty… Goldbergs is certainly cleaner. Many continue to be turned off by BB’s and their long history of below par health inspection grades.

It’s a little easier to get in and out of BB’s. Avalon isn’t exactly where you want to go for a quick to-go meal. The place is designed to draw you in and keep you there to linger. If you happen to be there for something else in the morning then Goldbergs is a good choice. But it’s hard to grab bagels from here and take back to your office elsewhere.

And finally, service was pretty good at both joints. They remembered my name on my second visit to Goldbergs. However, BB’s remembered to individually wrap our everything bagel. Attention to detail is important.

So at the end of it all, bagels from fancy digs at Avalon cannot unseat BB’s from their bagel throne.

16 Responses to “Goldbergs vs BB’s – Tale of the tape”

  1. Andrea November 7, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    I am a huge BB’s fan. Glad you did the comparison homework for the masses :)

  2. Cool Papa Bell November 7, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    Goldberg’s is among the best, but never, ever should be mentioned in the same sentence as BB’s again. But they are open much later.

  3. Laura November 7, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    No bagel, no matter how delicious, is worth a case of food poisoning. Why can’t BB get its act together and clean the place?

  4. A November 7, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    Haven’t tried either place for different reasons. I’m too intimidated to give BB’s a try. Plus they are out of my way. With a Goldberg’s at Avalon, I may stop in if I’m there for something else. As Lee said, it’s not a place you’d make a special trip to Avalon for.

    I’ve actually just about eliminated bagels from my diet due to the carbs, but if I ever have a chance to try an authentic New York one, or close to it, I’d fall of the wagon in a heartbeat!

  5. Stacey Mueller November 7, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    Never mind the bagels…who at Avalon has poutine with duck fat fries???

  6. S Lee Guy November 7, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    @Stacey – Bantum & Biddy

  7. Jen November 7, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    Poutine, a skating rink….there must be some Canadians involved in this project. I can’t wait to see if the quality of cheese curds on the poutine is up to French-Canadian standards.

    We tried to eat at goldbergs last weekend but it was packed. Glad to hear they boil their bagels too.

  8. A November 7, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    Went to Avalon for the first time today and despite feeling mostly indifferent to the whole project and not really believing it would actually open, I was impressed.

    Ate lunch at The El Felix. Great food, after a 45-minute wait for our meal they ended up comping us. Nice recovery for them, and I’m sure we’ll be back.

    Whole Foods was just like how everyone described it. Strong scent of fish at the entrance is very offputting, but the rest of the store seemed fine. I won’t do any regular shopping there (too expensive and harder to get in an out of than Publix, Kroger or Trader Joe’s, but if I’m at Avalon for something else, I can see popping in for a few things.

    Most of the shops are too upscale for me, but I will be back to try out some of the other restaurants and maybe catch a movie.

  9. Stacey Mueller November 7, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    Well, I drive past BB every day in the AM and have never stopped even though it could not be more convenient. Just too gun shy I guess to try it out.

    On the other hand, we attended the Perfect Taste preview that they did at Avalon the night before opening, and the spread that Goldberg’s put out was pretty incredible. Bagels are only the tip of the iceberg there. No, I probably would not battle Avalon crowds for the sole purpose of going there, but if you are already shopping or going to a movie or what not, it would be worth stopping in if you did not want a high falutin’ meal.

    Bantam and Biddy did not have their act together so had run out of samples before we got there the night of the preview, and a friend waited over an hour for food last Sunday before paying for drinks and leaving. Sounds like they may have underestimated what they were getting themselves in to, so may be a while before the poutine is ready for prime time!

    Other samples of note: lots and LOTS of burgers, even at Kona Grill, awesome steak and marrow bread pudding at Oak, good taco and quac at El Felix, yummy gelato at Café Gio (aka Antico). We rolled out of there too full to move.

  10. Deborah November 7, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

    so disappointed to hear that Goldbergs fared so poorly with you! Having been a fan of theirs for many years, I can only hope that it’s opening jitters. Have been going to Dunwoody and Tocco Hills for years. As someone stated earlier, Goldbergs is more than the bagels. Not being kosher, they serve quality bacon with their breakfast, and the most awesome potato pancakes with applesauce. And my favorite part, the jar of bread and butter pickles on the table while you wait! Best tuna and egg salads available that I have found.

  11. C November 8, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    Have you ever compared BBs to Bagelicious in Marietta on Johnson Fy rd? I’m so dedicated to them I’ve never tried BB. It’s very reminiscent of Bay Ridge.

  12. Joe November 10, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

    Have to Avalon a few times now and all the restaurants are running on fumes. Nobody can find enough workers and with no public transportation the issue will not get much better. El Felix could not seat open tables the other night due to not enough servers and the food came after 45 minutes. Barcado had more tables to bus than clean on our initial try. From the website, all retailers are looking for people.

  13. S Lee Guy November 11, 2014 at 7:44 am #

    @Joe – I can confirm the staffing issues. Many of the Avalon restaurants continue to advertise for openings in all parts of the restaurants – front of house, line cooks, bar, etc. You can’t open this many restaurants all at once without feeling a pinch in the job market. They simply can’t hire this many folks all at once and the service issues at Avalon right now are the result. It’ll pass though. On the flip side, this is probably a great time to do restaurant and hospitality work.

  14. A November 11, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    @Joe–guess we weren’t the only ones with issues at El Felix. Our order ticket got lost somewhere between our server and the kitchen, but no one told us until a good 30 minutes after we placed our order. Even after that, it was another 15 minutes at least before our food showed up. We got a free meal out of it, but still if this place is blessed by Ford Fry, you expect better even if they’ve only been open a week.

  15. Kevin November 18, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    While we’re on the subject of Avalon eateries, it seems as if the kitchen at Marlowe’s is already on point. The service is still a little disorganized, but I think their reputation will survive any early-stage glitches there. Bocado Burger? Probs won’t last 6 months. Expensive, poor traffic layout and middling food.

  16. Zeus December 7, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

    BB’s and Bagelicious make their own bagels and boil them, as the bagel gods intended. Goldberg’s does neither. Hence the perceptible difference in texture.

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