Kevin Crowley and Silas Caeton have partnered together on a delightful bagel venture in the Short North.
To some, a bagel is simply a ring of baked bread for slathering on cream cheese. At The Lox Bagel Shop, however, it’s a revered, artisan-produced delight. Kevin Crowley, a former partner at Northstar Café, opened the lunch and breakfast sandwich shop at 772 N. High St. in December, bringing in chef Silas Caeton as the eatery’s managing partner. Caeton, whose resume includes Veritas and Salt & Pine, left his post as executive chef at Cosecha Cocina to join Crowley at his new business venture.
The Lox’s handmade bagels ($2.25) are boiled and then baked in a Wood Stone oven with a live fire, resulting in what Crowley calls a “cross between Montreal and New York City”—nodding to the two cities’ famed bagel rivalry. Crowley’s process, which he heavily researched and fine-tuned through travel and hands-on learning in several North American bagel-making meccas, results in an outstanding final product. With a doughy, soft interior and a crunchy, chewy crust (thanks to the boiling of the dough prior to baking), The Lox’s bagels easily won me over with their exceptional freshness.
Serving as the foundation for the eatery’s menu offerings, the bagels are served with spread ($1 and up) or as the base to a breakfast or lunch sandwich. Four bagels await patrons: plain, sea salt and herb, sesame and everything. All are fantastic, though I found the sea salt and herb bagel the most memorable thanks to the generous specks of dried salt that I encountered every few bites.
Among the spreads, a bagel with jam is both Instagram-worthy and delicious. Paired with a healthy dose of plain cream cheese, the chunky berry-based jam offers the right amount of sweet on top of a creamy, indulgent base.
The beet and thyme cream cheese confused me. With a deep pink hue, I expected a saccharine bite from the beets at the heart of the creation. Instead, the flavor was mild and unassuming; the only lingering taste I could decipher was thyme.
By far, the menu standout is The Lox ($12), the shop’s namesake sandwich, which is available on the breakfast and lunch menus. The sandwich offers a healthy dose of cured salmon coupled with cream cheese, capers, pickled red onion and cucumber. The salmon is flavorful and bright. The dish’s pickled components are the highlight, adding a healthy punch to each bite. Though it costs a hefty chunk of change, the sandwich is worth every penny.
The pastrami sandwich ($10) is also stellar. Three pieces of tender smoked meat mingle gracefully with melted Swiss cheese, tangy mustard and pickled red onion. Served warm, the sandwich is complex and pleasurable.
The shop’s veggie sandwich ($8.50) disappointed me. Though visually stunning and with enjoyable sweet notes from roasted beets, the concoction featured the unimpressive beet and thyme cream cheese, as well as seasoned mushrooms and broccolini with a texture that didn’t quite work for me.
The Lox is visually striking. Modern yet soothing, the airy space features light wooden tones against shades of calming blue. There is also a partly open kitchen where patrons can watch the eatery’s crew at work.
With a menu that veers toward an unpretentious and classic Jewish deli but with an interior and prices aimed at Short North’s urbane clientele (it’s card-only by the way), The Lox serves ambitious, wildly photogenic and reimagined fare that is a novel addition to the Columbus culinary scene. However, stick to the classics to get the most bang for your bagel buck.