In general, I think it's unfair fair to evaluate a restaurant during its first couple weeks of operation, since every place deserves a grace period to work out the kinks. That being said, I am still judging Goldberg's based on bagels I purchased within a half hour of the bagelry being open.
I have to use the bagels from Bethesda Bagels as the benchmark for any comparisons, as that's where I always go for my weekend bagels, despite its location being rather inconvenient. As previously stated many times on this blog, I find the current bagel offerings in and around downtown Silver Spring to be somewhat lacking. The main reason I am excited about the arrival of Goldberg's is that it has the potential to reduce my Sunday bagel commute from 30-40 minutes to under 10. So, how does Goldberg's stack up?
Goldberg's bagels are a little smaller than the ones at Bethesda Bagels, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, since the latter's bagels don't always fit in some toasters. They may be smaller, but they are also cheaper at 95¢ ea. vs. $1.10 at Bethesda. Bulk pricing is significantly better, as a baker's dozen at Goldberg's is just $9.95 vs. $12.99 at B.B.
My usual bagel flavor choice is "everything", so that's what my taste comparison is based on. First off, there is not quite as much "everything" flavoring on Golberg's offering, though whether this is a positive or a negative is really based on individual taste. With the extremely strong taste of Bethesda's everything, the seasonings linger on your palate hours after you've finished eating it. Goldberg's puts a good amount of seasoning on their version, and not just on the top side like some wannabe everything bagels do.
(One extremely persnickety complaint is that they don't by default segregate the everything bagels from other bagels when bagging your order. Why does this matter? Because after prolonged exposure to everything bagels, all other bagel flavors become everything bagels as well. Again, super nitpicky on my part, and I'm sure they'd do it if you asked, so just something to note for future visits.)
Overall, my bagel was quite good. It had the chewiness that properly-made (read: boiled) bagels should. It got nice and crispy when toasted. So, are their bagels as good as Bethesda's? I think this may require a few more visits to determine definitively. According to my wife, her everything bagel wasn't "as excellent as Bethesda's" but still really good, though again this assessment was made based on a single bagel.
Are their bagels good enough to abandon Bethesda Bagels (and the annoying drive to downtown Bethesda) for? Signs point to yes. I will definitely be back next weekend to get my bagel fix.
Fascinating bagel trivia: For years, there was actually a bagel baker's union in New York City.