Why: Seize the Bagel is a family-owned bagel bake shop and café that offers a wide selection of bagel-based items. Owner Bruce Yamamura is committed to using sustainable locally procured ingredients. There are no trans fats, hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup or preservatives in any of the bagels served. Yamamura has incorporated 37 years of food industry experience to ensure his food quality, business practice, and community involvement are the best he can provide. He supplies bagels to Clark College and high schools in the east county, as well as various coffee shops around Vancouver.
Atmosphere: A visit to Seize the Bagel feels like a step back in time. Shades of dull gold and brown color the space and menu boards; the well-used furniture has chips and deep scratches in the wood's varnish. Large black-and-white photos of bagels decorate the walls, save for a section that displays family-style photos by local photographer Lisa McLachlan. Seating consists of tables and chairs, as well as a window-side bar with bar stools. A kid-friendly section has furniture sized for small children. The music on the afternoon of my visit included mostly tunes from the '70s and '80s, with a few that dated back to the '60s — a sure influence on the time-warp feeling I was experiencing.
What I tried: I decided on the pulled pork sandwich on a Parmesan bagel, and my dining companion had a Polish dog bagel and a toasted poppyseed bagel with cream cheese. I also selected a baker's dozen assortment of savory and sweet bagels to take home.
The pulled pork sandwich is made with meat marinated in J.T.'s citrus adobo sauce. Not being familiar with the sauce, I found its spicy heat overwhelmed the flavor of the meat — certainly a go-to choice for those looking for extra spice. The Parmesan bagel was soft, fresh, and lightly toasted; the grated Parmesan baked into the top provided more texture than flavor. With the sandwich was a small portion of coleslaw, which I found refreshing — the simple cabbage mixture wasn't too saucy or sweet, and it helped quench the spice of the sandwich.
My dining companion asked to have his Polish dog bagel heated, but was disappointed by the outcome. Instead a steamy dog surrounded by hot bagel bread, he got a warmish dog that had cold spots throughout, surrounded by lukewarm bread. However, the bagel and cream cheese that he ordered was satisfying, though we agreed the bagel would have been better if it had been toasted a bit more to bring out the best of its flavor.
The assorted bagels that I took home were by far the highlight of my visit to Seize the Bagel. All of them were fresh and tasty. A few standouts were the sea salt bagel, which was reminiscent of a soft, salted pretzel; the wheat bagel, for its wholesome quality; the cinnamon bagel, which had ribbons of cinnamon throughout; and the chocolate chip bagel — need I say more?
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Like most bake shops, the selection varies throughout the day, but Seize the Bagel has a steady supply of bagels to offer, as well as flavored spreads, most of them cream-cheese-based. In addition to bagels, the shop serves Harry's soup from Portland; specialty sandwiches that include a French dip; bialys — flattish cousins of bagels with an indentation holding toppings where the hole would be; calzones; breadsticks — dusted with flavorings or stuffed with ingredients such as chipotle chicken, pepperoni, or ham and cheddar; and desserts that include cookies, brownies, lemon bars, donuts and sweet breads. Seize the Bagel also serves the delicious Caffe D'arte coffee. Espresso drinks, smoothies and a variety of specialty beverages are also on the menu.
Other observations: Service is fast and the staff is friendly.
Cost: A baker's dozen (13 bagels) is $8.95. Spreads come in a single-serving size, 4-ounce, and 7-ounce for $1 to $7.50. Most bagel lunch sandwiches cost $5.95. Bagel breakfast sandwiches are $2.95 to $4.50 and breakfast calzones are $3.95. The bagel dog or bagel polish dog is $3.50. Salads are $3.25 and $4.50. Soup is $3.25. Dessert items are .50 to $1.50. Espresso drinks come in 12-ounce, 16-ounce, and 20-ounce and range from $1.50 to $4.25.
Hours: 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
Where: 13503 S.E. Mill Plain Boulevard, Suite 2, Vancouver.
Health score: Seize the Bagel received a score of 15 on Dec. 28. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants that score 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.