By Emily Sweeney
Gunther Tooties has officially arrived in Quincy Center. This stylish little cafe opened on the last day of January, has been slowly building a following of carb- and caffeine-craving customers ever since.
View imageGunther Tooties strives to be more than a bagel bakery and coffee shop — it serves sandwiches, salads, and soup, along with a wide array of microbrewed specialty coffees and tea. The place stays open pretty late, offers free Wi-Fi, and even the occasional open-mike night.
The interior is bright and cheerful. It’s reminiscent of a locally owned Panera Bread, but with loads more charm. The walls are pale yellow and feature artwork by Whitman artist Ann M. Everett. Black-and-white canvas prints of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, and other Hollywood icons cover one side of the cafe.
On a recent Tuesday evening, the new cafe in Quincy Center was mostly empty. One woman in her 30s sat on the black couches by the front window, sipping coffee and tapping away at her keyboard; another 30-something man wearing large puffy headphones sat at a table toward the back of the cafe, staring at his laptop monitor.
The menu is built around New York-style bagels, which are baked fresh daily in Pembroke and come in 27 varieties, running the gamut from standard flavors like blueberry, cinnamon-raisin, and onion to slightly more exotic ones like pumpkin, sunflower, spinoccoli, and French toast.
Bagels served ‘‘as is’’ cost $1.05 each; a half-dozen cost $5.50; and a baker’s dozen costs $10. They offer all the usual toppings: butter, hummus, peanut butter, jelly, and smoked salmon, as well as a dozen different flavors of cream cheese.
The menu features an extensive line of sandwiches. For breakfast, you can get an egg sandwich on a bagel, English muffin or croissant for $2 (or $2.79 if you add cheese, $3.79 if you add bacon, ham or sausage).
On my recent visit, I ordered the egg, goat cheese and spinach on a multigrain bagel ($4.79). It proved to be a delicious combination: the goat cheese was smooth and creamy, the egg was cooked perfectly, and the bagel was warm and toasted just right. It made for a fine sandwich.
My only wish was that there was more stuff in the middle; after all, bagels being what they are — big, dense pieces of bread — it’s easy for the stuff in the middle to be overwhelmed and suffocated by all that bread. I ended up taking one half of the bagel off the sandwich and saving it for later.
My companion ordered a tuna melt ($6.59) to go. It came wrapped in white waxed paper in a cute little brown cardboard box, with a bag of chips tucked beside it. Unfortunately, the tuna was swimming in mayonnaise and bits of celery, making the sandwich more like a tuna salad than a tuna melt. It was topped with two slivers of bacon, tomato, and cheese. My companion, who confessed to ‘‘not being a bagel maniac,’’ also saved half of her bagel for later, to avoid the carbo-overload.
We also sampled the caprese sandwich ($5.75), which included fresh mozzarella cheese, basil pesto, roasted red pepper, red onion, and olive oil on a grilled multigrain bagel. The sandwich came with a small bag of potato chips. It was a tasty sandwich, and we only wished there had been more red peppers on it.
We also tried the cafe salad ($5), which was a bed of crispy romaine lettuce topped with tomatoes, giant slices of fresh cucumber, red onion, sliced tomatoes, and dried cranberries. It was delicious; everything was crispy and fresh.
This is the fourth Gunther Tooties to open in the area. (A bit of trivia: its name is derived from one of the patrol cops in the 1960s TV sitcom ‘‘Car 54, Where Are You?’’) The first opened in 1992 at 254 Church St. in Pembroke, and still operates today. The chain has since expanded to Duxbury (10 Washington St.)
Gunther Tooties; 1253 Hancock St., Quincy; 617-471-1866; www.gunthertooties.net;
Open Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.