On a recent trip to Ann Arbor, I discovered a penchant for smoked salmon while at the semi-famous Zingerman's Deli. I swooned over the silky, scentless fish piled atop a bagel and cream cheese, and hoped to find some even better stuff back home, because surely Columbus can outdo Ann Arbor.
I started my search under the assumption that lox and smoked salmon were the same thing. How wrong I was - smoked salmon, it turns out, is cured and smoked while lox are brined and cured. But I didn't feel foolish. Local restaurant employees didn't know the difference either.
Smoked or not, good salmon makes for the perfect brunch experience.
Block's Bagels: $9.50 for a huge heap of salmon
Katzinger's Delicatessen: $7.75 for a "big" with very little fish, $9.50 for a "huge" with a bit more
Tasi Cafe: $10 for a bagel overflowing with in-house-smoked salmon
Block's: The sandwich's mild fishy scent reminded me of my old aquarium.
Katzinger's: No smell except for a weak whiff of cream cheese
Tasi: No scent whatsoever
Block's: Silky and soft, with just enough smokiness to give it some flavor
Katzinger's: The soft, thick slab of salmon was so mild, you wouldn't even notice it unless you made the effort to.
Tasi: The smoky, flavorful salmon put up no resistance when bitten.
Block's: This place has cream-cheese lovers in mind. I was so distracted by the half-inch layer of cheese, it was hard to notice the bagel and tomato.
Katzinger's: There was just enough cream cheese to moisten the chewy bagel, which had a sweetness that worked well with the salmon's slight smokiness. The ripe tomato was a perfect topping.
Tasi: Cream cheese lightly coated the ridiculously fresh bagel, and the thin tomato slices kept the focus on the salmon.
Block's: The super-fresh bagel and large helping of salmon were tasty but lacking in presentation. An odd pink liquid on the Styrofoam plate looked far too similar to grocery store chicken juice.
Katzinger's: Go to Katzinger's to get your salmon fix without having to worry about mercury poisoning.
Tasi: The restaurant's effort to hickory-smoke its own salmon pays off. Tasi gives the Ann Arbor deli a run for its money.
The winner !
Tasi's thin orange slabs of smoked salmon stand out from the pink competitors.