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February 22nd, 2012 PENELOPE BASS | Food Reviews & Stories
 

Schmear Apparent

We miss Kettleman’s bagels, too. Who can replace them?

dish.box.kingbagel_3816IMAGE: WW Photo Illustration
Kettleman Bagels is in zombie mode. Things have slipped fast since the beloved local bagelry sold out last November to Colorado-based Einstein Bros. Kettleman’s superb boiled bagels—the best in town, a great many said—are being replaced with bready, unboiled doughnut things. Dense, chewy vitriol has followed.

There’s a bagel hole in the heart of this city. The hurt may never completely heal. But, at some point, we need to move on.

So WW sought to anoint a successor to Kettleman’s bagels. This somber chore was not undertaken lightly. With eight staffers consuming the equivalent of five bagels each, it didn’t end lightly, either.

Our blind taste-off featured four sample bagels from 10 Portland shops. All were purchased during the same three-hour window on a typical Wednesday morning. At each stop we ordered “two plain bagels and two of your most popular flavor.” Half were toasted, half were not. Each bagel—40 total—was cut into eight pieces. Plain cream cheese was optional.

In the end, we found no shop can replace Kettleman alone. The title of Portland’s Best Bagel is now split. Newcomer Spielman Coffee Roasters, on the east side, has the best plain bagel, while Kenny & Zuke’s everything bagel was our consensus pick for best overall. An honorary mention goes to Nuvrei for its pretzel-dough bagels, which were deemed the “best non-bagel bagel.”


Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen
1038 SW Stark St., 222-3354, kennyandzukes.com.
Big seller: Everything bagel
Tasting notes: “It’s got a good chew and a nice, dense crumb.”
“It’s real tasty.”
“You couldn’t complain about this bagel.”

Tastebud
3220 SE Milwaukie Ave., 234-0330, tastebudfarm.com (purchased from New Seasons).
Big seller: Leek
Tasting notes: “The problem is that the interior tastes too bready.”
“This one has a little more sourdough.”
“I don’t know what flavor it’s supposed to be. Is this supposed to be a flavor?”

Portland Bagel Company
500 NW 23rd Ave., 206-6251, portlandbagelco.com.
Big seller: Everything bagel
Tasting notes: “It tastes like Safeway bagels are supposed to taste, but Safeway bagels are actually way better.”
“This tastes like a baguette when you toast it.” 
“Was this made by Republicans?”

Spielman Coffee Roasters
2128 SE Division St., 467-0600.
Big seller: Everything bagel
Tasting notes: “The crust has a sweetness to it, but the interior doesn’t.”
“The thicker the crust, the chewier the inside. It’s like a protective layer of crust.”
“It’s good with cream cheese—that sweetness comes through really nicely.”

Nuvrei

404 NW 10th Ave., 972-1700, nuvrei.com.
Big seller: Jalapeño cheddar
Tasting notes: “Although it’s a pretzel, and not a bagel, I still really like it.”
“I would enjoy this wrapped around a hot dog dipped in mustard.”
“That’s really effing good. The jalapeño gives a good kick in the back of the mouth.”

Marsee Baking
1625 SE Bybee Blvd., 232-0000, marseebaking.com.
Big seller: Asiago
Tasting notes: “It’s just a big, puffy piece of dough.”
“It doesn’t appear to be boiled.”
“I have nothing to say about this.”

New Cascadia Traditional Bakery
1700 SE 6th Ave., 546-4901, newcascadiatraditional.com
Big seller: Everything bagel (gluten-free)
Tasting notes: “I can tell this is the gluten-free bagel, and bagels are made with high-gluten flour. You cannot have a gluten-free bagel; the gluten is inherent to its bagelness.”
“This is the weightiest bagel I’ve ever held.”
“I feel like I’ve taken a dare to eat cat litter.”

Gabriel’s Bakery
123 SW Broadway, 225-1655 (picked up from the warehouse).
Big seller: Sesame (no plain available), cheddar
Tasting notes: “It’s sweet and horrible.”
“It’s a hamburger bun.”
“I would enjoy this as a sandwich.”

Bagel Land
4118 NE Fremont St., 249-2848
Big seller: Everything bagel
Tasting notes: “I wish it was completely tasteless, but it has just enough taste that I hate it.”
“It tastes like day-old pizza.” 
“I like day-old pizza.”

Broadway Bagels
1205 SE Gideon St., 241-9232 (purchased from New Seasons).
Big seller: Everything bagel
Tasting notes: “It has caraway seeds, which is really nice. The topping is good.”
“The crumb sucks.” 
“This one is more boring toasted than untoasted.


Results:

Best plain bagel: Spielman Coffee Roasters.
Best overall: Kenny & Zuke’s everything bagel.
Best non-bagel bagel: Nuvrei’s jalapeño-cheddar pretzel bagel.


 
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