It wasn't long ago that it was laughable to suggest that you could get even a half-decent bagel anywhere on the West Coast. Fortunately, the days when Bay Area bagels were little more than round puffy bread may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a handful of serious new artisans, many of them based in the East Bay. One of guys spearheading the bagel revolution is Baron Baking's Dan Graf, a former genetics student who reverse-engineered what he believes to be the perfect bagels: small, dense, very crispy, and deeply flavorful. We like these shiny-crusted beauties toasted and topped with cream cheese, capers, and smoked trout, as we've enjoyed them at Stag's Lunchette. (They're also available at Saul's Restaurant & Delicatessen and Chop Bar.) But these are also the rare bagels that are just as good — nay, even better — when eaten untoasted and unadorned, save perhaps with a smear of soft butter.
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