It’s been just six months since Sir Charles replaced the 13-year-old Beans & Bagels on Johnston Street. One block up, opposite Casa Iberica, Mile End will move in to fill the bagel black hole, serving Seven Seeds beans and Montreal-style bagels.
Co-owner Benjamin Vaughn, who also has Carte Crêpes, has partnered with former employee Michael Fee for the store, which is currently little more than a raw-concrete shell.
They’re planning to split the space in two, with one side dedicated to a coffee bar and the other to a bakery service counter and hulking wood-fired oven. It will be the first of its kind in Australia, able to swallow 30-deep lines of bagels, which are shifted around by two-metre-long wooden paddles.
It’s this wood-fired method that differentiates the smaller and denser Montreal-style bagels from their New York equivalent. They’re also dipped in honey water before baking, making for a sweeter finish. Fee spent several months travelling across Canada and the US (and documenting it on Instagram) to learn the craft, which he calls “visually beautiful”.
Mile End has been ready to go since at least March, but the duo has been stuck on getting the obscure oven built. “The guy who specialises in these custom-made, wood-fired bagel ovens, he’s a stonemason and one of the only people in the world who makes them,” Vaughan says.
Unfortunately, he was busy building in New Zealand for the foreseeable future. Vaughan and Fee resigned themselves to getting a modified pizza oven instead. “Then a week before we were about to put down our deposit, he just emailed me out the blue saying, ‘Hey, are you still keen for a bagel oven?’” Vaughan says.