Hinnawi Bros Bagel & Cafe is a must-try
By Alyssa De Rosa
Who doesn’t love a Montreal-style bagel? For years, the age-old question in the city has been, who makes the best bagels? The answer to that question is subjective, but in response to who makes the best bagel sandwiches, that answer is easy because there is only one of its kind in the city.
Hinnawi Bros Bagel & Cafe located at the corner of St-Denis and Sherbrooke (372 Sherbrooke E) is just one month old and the place is already bustling with die-hard fans. In a city where bagels are so popular, no one ever thought about the idea of opening a full-fledged bagel sandwich cafe, until Toufic Hinnawi.
Hinnawi who studied and lived in California and is originally from Israel took some American ideas with him to Montreal and decided to open up shop. “I really liked the bagel sandwiches in California, and when I was in Montreal it made no sense to me that no one in the city was making bagel sandwiches,” Toufic explains.
After confronting Fairmount bagels to ensure there would be no hard feelings, he got the green light to conceptualize his dream of being the bagel sandwich man in the city. The sandwiches are simple and delicious, one of Hinnawi’s main goals as a restaurant owner. Prices are reasonable, ranging between $5.00 – $10.00 per sandwich dish which includes potato chips or salad as a side dish. Lets just say you won’t be breaking the bank but your mouth will be salivating.
When you walk into the corner cafe, you’ll notice Toufic working behind the counter, greeting customers and ensuring everything is to their liking. The service is quick, friendly and enjoyable. My experience as a first time customer was very pleasant. I ordered the Plymouth bagel which includes turkey, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and mustard with a side of fresh salad. The sandwich was perfect – the bagel wasn’t too soft nor too hard and the ingredients blend well together. I also ordered a small cappuccino and the only word I have to describe it is delectable. As an Italo-Canadian I’ve had my share of espresso’s and cappuccino’s but never one like this. There wasn’t any excess foam where sometimes you feel that half of the cup is filled with just cream. Instead, the cup had a generous amount of coffee with just the right amount of foam – my taste buds died and went to heaven.
Coffee is also one of the reason’s why Toufic opened this bagel cafe. “Even though there are a lot of coffee shops in Montreal, I’ve never tasted a real cappuccino, or latte. You need to master the cream of a good cappuccino, not like a Starbucks or Second Cup. My coffee doesn’t come with bells and whistles, it’s just good coffee,” he describes.
Toufic insists he has fresh bagels baked for him every day, a characteristic that makes a huge difference. If the bagel is stale, the sandwich will inevitably be weak in flavour.
His goals in the upcoming months are to finish setting up the cafe by making it cozier, adding aesthetics and continuing to work on the menu, ensuring his customers only get the best. Right now he’s working on some cool night menu selections demonstrating to people that the bagel is not just a breakfast sandwich but can also be a light and simple meal anytime of day. Like many new business owners, they dream big, and so does Toufic. Once he’s mastered his first creation, his goal is to turn this cafe into a chain and make his mark in Montreal.
“People are super supportive and you don’t see that often,” he says. “Montreal is a super warm place to be, despite the cold weather,” he jokes. “I want to give back as much as possible by providing people with the best service and food.”
One thing is sure, I will definitely be back. The nutella bagel caught my eye last time I was there. Current opening hours are Monday-Sunday from 7:30 AM to 7:00 PM. Walk in, crack a smile, order a bagel and take a seat. You won’t regret it.
Hinnawi Bros Bagel & Café
372 Sherbrooke E
(corner of St-Denis and Sherbrooke)