Deke does it again in Niantic
Two years ago in this space, I wrote about the varied and tasty prepared foods and sandwiches at Haylon’s Market in Niantic. I felt fine recommending it to readers then, and now that it’s chosen a new mission (under the same owner), I’m pleased to recommend it again.
For one, Haylon’s has been reborn as Deke’s Bagels (Deke is owner David Haylon’s more frequent moniker), and those of us who remember the specialty bagel franchises of yore — your Bruegger’s and Bagelz shops that aren’t as ubiquitous as they used to be — will find Deke’s a worthy new bagel destination, from its funky bagel and cream cheese flavors (chipotle pepper cream cheese, anyone?) to its knock-out bagel breakfast sandwiches.
First, the bagels ($1.50 each; $15 a dozen). With more than a dozen flavors available, there is most certainly something for every bagel fan at Deke’s. I started with a baseline plain bagel paired with chipotle cream cheese ($1.50 for a small side of cream cheese). It’s hard to say which part of this duo was better, but honestly when you take a fresh bagel that’s pillow soft with just the right amount of chewy texture and combine it with the spicy kick of real, visible chipotle peppers (read: not chipotle “flavoring”), everyone is winner.
Moving into a more adventurous bagel-tasting phase, we selected the intriguing Bacon, Egg and Cheese bagel and an Apple Pie bagel. Both abundant in their titular flavors, bagels like these required no spreads for me. According to our calculations, the BEC bagel is an egg bagel with chunks of bacon and a smattering of cheese baked into its center. We ate ours without putting it through the toaster, and it was still outstanding. I imagine the toaster would elevate this bagel to greatness.
Our “dessert” Apple Pie bagel got the same treatment and would probably get better with some toaster time, too. We couldn’t quite tell what the base bagel of the Apple Pie was — maybe a fine-ground wheat? — but the dollop of apple pie filling baked into its center steals the show pretty quickly. It went beautifully with the Ashlawn Farm coffee Deke’s makes available to patrons.
Moving on to the sandwich menus, we reverted to more traditional bagels as sandwich vehicle. (Sandwiches can be made on various breads and wraps, too.) On a visit when much of the bagel stock was depleted, I tried the Crispy BLT sandwich ($6.25) on a pumpernickel bagel. I love pumpernickel baked goods that go easy on the rye, and while Deke’s version did not, mine, probably courtesy of the toaster, presented some sweeter notes, too, which created a nice balance. Somehow, that flavor combo worked fairly well with the rest of the BLT construction, and that’s possibly thanks to the abundant bacon and wonderful house-made mayo, which added little hints of lemon to every bite.
On our most recent visit, we (and everyone else) made sure to arrive in the a.m. hours. Still, we were able to secure sesame bagels for my breakfast-special Philly cheesesteak and egg breakfast sandwich ($5.75) and the mister’s turkey sandwich ($7.25 before adding guacamole for $1). Once again, our bagels were super fresh and delightfully soft and chewy; however, the addition of cheese, thin slices of steak and a modest topper of grilled peppers and onions skyrocketed this sandwich to the number-one spot out of everything we tried. Now, we’ve certainly sampled better steak in a cheesesteak context, but the sum of the parts was a hearty, tasty breakfast nonetheless. You’ve got to love what peppers can do in a breakfast dish.
As for the turkey sandwich, we enjoyed it well enough. We added mustard, bacon and avocado to ours, a combo that can never really disappoint, but we initially had to dig to find our dollar’s worth of avocado on the sandwich. A smackerel more of the green goodness would have been most welcome. Still, the thick layer of very good turkey and the other trimmings made for a sandwich I would certainly order again.
So, yes, Deke’s is a bagel-lover’s dream, but don’t forget to check out the sweets case (not to mention the bagel specialty items such as the Bagel Dogs and Bagel Stromboli, both $5.50). Among the baked goods, you will likely find a confection called a Dirt Bomb ($2), but don’t be put off by the unappetizing name. Here’s why: A Dirt Bomb is made from Deke’s doughnut batter, which is baked in muffin tins and rolled in sugar, spice, and everything nice. While more toothy than a standard muffin, the Dirt Bomb somehow retains a bit of airiness and crumble while delivering cinnamon-spiced flavor that isn’t cloyingly sweet. This is another great coffee partner and a filling one at that. (Just wait until you feel the weight of this goodie in a paper bag.) Indeed, the Dirt Bomb presented lighter than the unexciting blueberry scone ($1.75) we sampled. All signs pointed to a great scone — sugar coating, nice shape and color — but it fell a bit flat with not a lot of blueberry flavor coming through the dense scone base.
But at Deke’s, bagels are king and they do deserve such a title. If the line on a recent Saturday is any indicator, Deke’s will continue to get the royal treatment and enjoy a long reign in Niantic.
157 West Main St., Niantic
Cuisine: Bagels and baked goods with many sandwich and spread options; coffee available
Atmosphere: Deke's retains much of the decorative vibe of its previous incarnation — modern accents meet French country kitchen — with the welcome addition of a handful of seats. Baked goods are nicely displayed and easy to peruse at the counter area.
Service: Nice folks, but some kinks need to be worked out on busy days
Prices: Reasonable; the most expensive item (beyond a catering spread) is a dozen bagels for $15.
Hours: Monday-Friday, 6 a.m.-3 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
Credit Cards: Yes
Handicapped access: All on one level; ramps available, but interior is small
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