What makes a good breakfast bagel? According to Darko Kmet, the owner of Bricklane Bagels, which opened on Clarendon Street in South Melbourne in September 2019, it’s pretty straightforward.

“It just has simple ingredients, and still lets the bagel speak for itself. Nothing too over the top,” he says.

At Bricklane, Kmet uses 5 & Dime bagels, which are boiled and baked the traditional way in the CBD and delivered fresh each morning.

There are 15 topping options on the menu, served on the toasted open bagel of your choice. The first on the list? Butter. The second? A schmeer of cream cheese. The third? Vegemite, peanut butter or jam. Simple.

Things do get slightly more complicated the further you scroll, though. There’s a classic avocado, tomato, feta and basil option, or a New York City-inspired number with pastrami and melted Swiss cheese on a thin layer of mustard with a pickle.

“We wanted to do [bagels] differently to the standard cafe. [Ours] are served open, similar to New York City,” Kmet says.

Smoked salmon comes with cream cheese, capers, dill and lemon juice, and chicken is paired with pesto and rocket. The sweet Nutella and cream cheese option is topped with strawberries and toasted almonds. Or you can build your own from the base up, choosing from plain, sesame, poppy, everything, jalapeno, blueberry and gluten-free bagels.

Dairy-based cheeses can be swapped for vegan cream cheese or vegan feta, and prices start at $6.50 for the butter bagel. Coffee is from Melbourne-based Axil Coffee Roasters.

Kmet was born in Melbourne but lived in Wellington, New Zealand, for 21 years, where in recent years he’s owned a mix of franchised and standalone cafes. He returned to his hometown with his family early last year.

He decided to open Bricklane Bagels with his wife, Melanie Penny, inspired by the many famous bagel shops of East London’s Brick Lane.

“There’s exposed brick inside and a laneway next door, so it all sort of comes together,” says Kmet.

On the busy footpath in front of the large glass window is a German beer-hall-style wooden table with bench seating. Inside is a charming mishmash of second-hand tables and chairs, many of which come from Fossil Vintage in Fairfield.

The couple wanted the cafe to have a homely feel, and painted much of the furniture themselves. Books, plants and trinkets from their family home add a personal touch.

“[Melanie] is constantly coming in and rearranging things, putting new artwork up and new books on the shelves – she loves the cafe as much as I do,” Kmet says.

Bricklane Bagels
224 Clarendon Street, South Melbourne

Mon to Fri 7.30am–3.30pm
Sat to Sun 8.30am–2.30pm No phone