Christal Cheng and Alex Daniel own a cafe in Tokyo, Frankie Melbourne Espresso, and closer to home, they were the pair behind Little Ramen Bar in Melbourne’s CBD. Their new cafe in Balaclava moves away from a Japanese connection – it’s “a neighbourhood friendly, laidback everyday bagel and coffee shop” on Carlisle Street, Cheng says.

The idea came from the engaged couple’s trip to Canada and the US, where there seemed to be bagel shops on every block.

“There are heaps of cafes in Melbourne selling bagels on their menu – but not too many stores with bagels as their prominent offering,” Cheng says.

“There are enough sit down cafes in this area,” Daniel adds, “so instead of adding and competing, we want to deliver a quick and easy takeaway option – one that’s more affordable and suitable for people on the go, whether they’re heading to work or school.”

18-hour boiled bagels come in eight different varieties: plain, sesame seed, poppy seed, all seeds, dark rye, blueberry, cinnamon raisin and gluten-free.

You can go for something simple – cream cheese or avocado filling or a housemade spread – or one of the more substantial “sandwich fillings”.

The Not a Reuben is a crowd favourite – and Cheng’s too – loaded with corned beef, American mustard, melted cheese and gherkins. Daniel’s go-to is the Tuna Melt, filled with skipjack tuna, mayo, beetroot, melted cheddar cheese and greens.

The Veggie Patch comes with beetroot, tomato, cream cheese and caramelised onion relish. All sandwich-filled bagels also come with a pickle and pretzels.

There’s more to Poppy and Seed than bagels – you’ll also find Doughboys Doughnuts, smoothies, juices and coffee by Allpress.

The petite corner shop used to be a “dark and closed off” real estate office, Cheng says. They’ve transformed it to something light filled and casual, stripping back a layer of metal cladding that hid the windows and painting the walls white.

Poppy and Seed Bagelry
205 Carlisle Street, Balaclava
(03) 9531 5157

Mon to Fri 6.30am–5pm
Sat & Sun 7.30am–5pm

This article was updated on June 20, 2018. It first appeared on Broadsheet on June 18, 2018. Menu items may have changed since publication.