It’s a Champagne problem, but let’s talk for a second about how hard it is to get a really good bagel in the city.
It’s hard – and we won’t even go into the rolls with holes masquerading as bagels.
Luckily, Matthew Freemantle and Andrew Kai are changing that. You may recognise their names as the duo behind Cape Town market favourite Gusto – real paella bursting with flavour (in fact, it’s so good, it made our list of can’t-miss CT market experiences).
While Gusto is still going strong, the guys are turning their hands from the paella pan to the serious business of baking at Max Bagels, a hole-in-the-wall spot on Bree Street.
‘Nobody’s doing it,’ says Matthew, while ringing up my bagel topped with trout, cream cheese, red onion and capers. ‘A bagel is a more exciting sandwich, and when you boil them right, in malt syrup, there’s nothing better.’
He’s not wrong, and judging by the queue snaking out the door, Cape Town’s urbanites agree.
So what’s on the menu? Well there’s the delicious (and generous) trout option yours truly was about to practically inhale. Then there’s salt beef, pickle mustard and cream cheese, or smoked chicken and coleslaw. Grilled fennel and leek keeps the vegetarians happy, or tuck into a plain cream cheese like a New Yorker on the fly.
Bagel options include plain, poppy seed, ‘everything‘ (poppy and caraway seeds, garlic and caramelised onion) and even a wheat-free spelt variety. But sorry Noakesers – no carb-free-cauli option here. ‘We tried but, yeah, that didn’t really work,’ laughs Matthew.
You can wash your meal down with a freshly squeezed juice or cup of Rosetta coffee, then settle on one of the cute benches outside to watch the hipsters of Bree go by. It’s a little more chilled than a New York sidewalk, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Where 120 Bree Street, CBD
Trading hours Monday to Friday 7 am – 4 pm
Contact +27 76 042 0224, maxbagels.com
Photography Jade Cooke