Follow the queues to the cult bagel shop where the chewy wood-fired bagels come stacked with filling, from fiery Pickled Jalapenos & Cream Cheese through to their take on the classic Smoked Salmon Lox and Pastrami-heavy Reubens.
Locations: 14-16 Johnston St, Fitzroy, VIC 3055 Ph: (03) 9419 0780 & 1 Wilkinson St, Brunswick, VIC 3056 Ph: (03) 7014 8698 & 115 Burnley St, Richmond, VIC 3121 Ph: (03) 9973 3695
Bagels are definitely having a moment and I, for one, am ecstatic about it.
For me, the bagel is an ideal brunch option and perfect for when you want to grab something and go.
Don’t get me wrong – I love a good sandwich. But there’s something about the chomping through the glossy shell of a lacquered bagel and meeting the resistance of that chewy, tight texture that really works for me.
And yep. As far as I’m concerned, a bagel should have bite. After all, a true bagel is boiled, then baked – it’s not simply a circular bread roll with a hole in the middle. If my jaw isn’t aching slightly by the end of my bagel from the effort of masticating its dense centre, it’s not the real deal in my book.
Fortunately, there are some great authentic bagel shops popping up across Melbourne at present. And one of the best is Mile End Bagels.
Bagels and nothing else. But when they are this good, why would you diversify?
In an Australian first, Mile End Bagels are both boiled and wood-fired. It’s a combination that is common in New York and Montreal. Bagels prepared this way have a golden, crispy exterior and a tight texture with a nice pull to it. And they taste great.
Customers can either buy bagels as they are, or select a filled one from the ‘Sandwiches’ menu. The regular bagels come in Sesame, Poppy Seed or Everything, Rye or an intriguing sounding Honey Oat.
Do you like to prep your own bagels at home? Do you tend to cut those pesky bagels unevenly? If so, why not buy a bagel guillotine? Safe, simple to use and not expensive, they are a great gadget.
There are currently 13 choices on the ‘Sandwiches’ list.
Personally, I love a NY-Style bagel and so find it hard to ever go past either a Lox or a Reuben. Luckily, Mile End Bagels does their own versions of both of these classics.
For Reuben aficionados, there’s Brisket Pastrami, Hot ‘n’ Sweet Mustard, Cream Cheese and Pickles. This was my choice when I popped in and it was utterly delicious – plenty of juicy, flavoursome Pastrami and the addition of the mustard was inspired.
If Smoked Salmon is your thing, they have a couple of options. You can either pair your Salmon with Dill & Caper Cream Cheese, Tomato & Onion, or try it with Avocado, Cream Cheese, Tomato & Lemon Oil. We tried the former and it was generous on both the fish and cheese.
We also gave the Free Range Ham, Tasty Cheese, Egg Salad, Pickles, Dijon & Mayo a go. It was a beast of a bagel which really hit the spot with its brunch dish vibes. And lastly, my son polished off the Chicken Salad, Avocado, BBQ Sauce, Tomato, Onion, Rocket & Tasty Cheese and declared it ‘Pretty good’. High praise indeed from a hard-to-please critic!
Pleasingly, those following a vegan diet aren’t forgotten either with a colourful Beetroot, Avocado, Cashew Cream Cheese & Rocket Bagel.
Another place turning out great bagels and sandwiches is Whiplash Cafe in Hawthorn
There’s a very Melbourne selection of coffees, plus a few trendy favs. Of Course, the Cold Brew Coffee was flying out the door on the day we dropped by. Well, we were in Richmond, after all.
And if you really like their caffeinated beverages you can also buy a bag of Wood & Co Beans.
Alternatively, you can go healthy with a Beetroot, Apple & Ginger Juice or a Coconut Water.
Mile End Bagels (or at least the Richmond outpost) turns minimalism into an art form.
The serving counter, coffee machine and food prep area lie behind a plain, no-fuss, counter at the back of the bagel shop. The menu is unembellished and is the only decoration on the wall. If you choose to eat in – or whilst you’re waiting for your order – there’s a high communal table and some stools to perch on. Similarly, there are a few seats along one of the windows.
It’s clean, plain and efficient-looking. It obviously wasn’t designed to encourage customers to kick back with a bagel and while away a few hours chatting, but that’s fine. Functionality is the dominant vibe.
That said, I really have to commend the team working on the day we visited. People were literally queuing out the door and there was a constant stream of Uber Drivers picking up take out orders. Despite the non-stop nature of the place, everyone was focused on their task, putting together bagels and whipping up Coffees and Chai Lattes, but no one seemed hassled. The person on the check out was especially friendly and helpful.
For breakfast, brunch or lunch, Mile End Bagels are a delicious option with plenty of choice.
Their bagels are authentic and their fillings are lush. Add them to your baked treat list.
But be prepared to queue. Bagels this good attract a hungry crowd!