Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Yorgo's Bageldashery - Norfolk, VA
Who goes to Yorgo's and doesn't order a bagel? Laine and Alex of course! Famous for their "New York Style Kosher Water Bagels", Yorgo's has been a popular spot in Norfolk for years. Previously they had a location on Plume street downtown, which lead to many morning meetings with Yorgo's Bagels. This location has been closed for a while now, and I had not been to Yorgo's in ages. The truth is, I could live quite happily if I never ate another bagel. They just don't excite me. So when Alex suggested Yorgo's for lunch last Friday, I was hesitant. Does Yorgo's have any other offerings worth the effort?
Yorgo's Ghent location on Colonial Avenue is a bit of a logistical challenge at lunchtime. Located directly on the street with 3-4 parking spaces out front, you will most likely have to park across the street or down 20th street and walk. No biggie, just awkward.
The interior has a definite deli vibe. There is the usual counter, chalkboard menu, and upright up cooler of drinks. There is also an open refrigerated case of prepared menu items, like salads. I admit I was a bit put off by previously prepared salads. I know many restaurants to do this, I simply prefer the freshly prepared type. We had arrived a little after the lunch rush, and as a result the prepared salads were depleted. My Greek had to be made fresh.
I was completely underwhelmed by the salad. It was small, lacking in imagination and vegetables. Essentially it was lettuce, a few cucumber slices, olives, feta and a slab of my nemesis...the red onion. Oh well, what did I expect? When you go to Yorgo's order bagels, or just order a drink and hang out with your buddies while they eat bagels.
Bagels are great and Yorgo’s does a fantastic job with this quickie food. They have numerous flavors of the bagels themselves as well as more than a few types of cream cheese. Honey wheat, everything, whole grain, sourdough, chocolate chip, cinnamon raisin are some of the bagels and the cream cheese spectrum ranges from herb to cinnamon and sugar to blueberry. I have been to Yorgo’s quite a few times. My favorite cream cheese-bagel combo to date is the pumpkin cream cheese on honey wheat. This is a seasonal cream cheese and tastes exactly like pumpkin cheese cake. I am counting the days until next fall, when I assume it will resurface on the menu. I have also had the cinnamon and sugar on the cinnamon raisin bagel. A stellar pairing, if I do say so myself. There is never too much cinnamon. A friend had the scallion once. He said it was good, but beware, it has a STRONG aroma.
Yorgo’s also has a ton of bagel sandwiches and other breakfast items. Egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad and even a tofu egg salad and a tofu chicken salad. I have had both of the tofu versions and was quite pleased, especially with the tofu egg salad. Eggs, bacon, ham, turkey and soy sausage and a variety of cheeses are other sandwich choices. There are daily vegan items, such as the vegan burrito and a daily vegan cream cheese.
You can order breakfast all day at Yorgo’s, but if you are shopping more for lunch food, they have that covered as well. If you are not in the mood for a bagel, they have Challah bread (the best!) and wraps. Lunch meat, peanut butter and jelly and even liver are some of the lunch findings. A friend had the Mediterranean wrap recently and the ingredients were more of an Indian style with chick peas and curry, rather than traditional Mediterranean style sandwiches which make me think of a vinaigrette, olives and feta. He did say it was good, but was not what he expected. The only drawback to the wrap is its size. Yorgo’s must be using the small tortillas so you are really getting two-thirds of a wrap instead of a full. I definitely think they should opt for the larger tortillas - that would give a diner a fair-sized sandwich. The subjects of contention I have with Yorgo’s are the salads, the plate sizes and the drink prices. Like Laine, I ordered a Greek salad and while there were plenty of olives, the lettuce was sparse and there just wasn’t much to it. I also had ordered a side of the tofu chicken salad and was glad because the salad was so small and was still $6 or so. You can go to a few other places and for about the same money, get a much larger and robust salad. On the plate size note, even if you order a wrap, it comes on a bagel plate, you know the paper plates that are the size of saucers. It is awkward, makes for a mess and they should go up to a ‘side’ paper plate. As for the sodas, the fountain is serve yourself BUT the large is $2.40...it is soda, for crying out loud. It kills me when restaurants charge more than $1.75 for a soda, even with refills.
The dessert category is another in which Yorgo’s excels. They have brownies, cookies (regular and vegan), raspberry bars, my all time favorite, the carrot cake cookie and some other treats. The carrot cake delight has the consistency of cake but it is a cookie and fabulous - novel idea, Yorgo’s! I have only had one sweet indulgence of which I was not fond. The Challah bread pudding sounded superb, but it had so much rum in it, I was gagging. Yorgo’s was solid with the idea, but went a little overboard with that crucial ingredient. I might have been drunk after a few bites. It is hard to remember, now that I try.
While there is ample space to sit in the restaurant, it is extremely packed on Saturday and Sunday mornings, so plan accordingly. They do move pretty fast, so you can order something to-go and skip fighting over a table. Parking can be a bear on the immediate block of Yorgo’s, but there is a large parking lot across Colonial and on side streets. Not sure about the parking rules though, so make sure you check for any signs that indicate a ticketing area. The atmosphere is very deli and a lot of folks are in very, very casual clothes, some a little too close to pajamas for my liking, but to each his own.
While I will avoid the salads, Yorgo’s hits the mark with bagels, sandwiches and sweets.
Click Here to view their Menu
2123 Colonial Avenue, Norfolk, VA