Trindy Adler and Matt Miller are clearly in a New York state of mind. Not content with running two NYC-inspired cafes in the CBD – that’d be the two Little Soho Coffee shops on the Terrace and Wellington Street – they expanded to Mount Lawley (hi Soho Lane!) in 2020. For venture number four, they’re back in the CBD and tackling another New York staple: the bagel.
“Matt and I used to get bagels every day when we lived in New York,” says Adler, a self-confessed “New-Yorker-at-heart”, who lived in Manhattan for 12 years. “When we moved back to Australia, we were sad and upset that bagels weren’t as popular here. Eventually we started thinking that if they’re not already here, let’s do it ourselves.”
That DIY ethos led to the opening of Neighbourhood Bagel earlier this month. Taking over a former acai bowl shop on King Street, Neighbourhood Bagel cuts a pert, colourful figure against the grey stone and concrete of the CBD. Jars of pickles look out over guests from on high. Cheery staff rock white and red trucker hats. The roof is a dusky pastel pink while the red and yellow of the counter and the front of the store call to mind a certain famous fast-food chain. But one taste of the food on offer and it’s clear you’re not in McKansas anymore.
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That’d be the influence of Zoe Ciotta, an English chef who’s clocked time with British culinary heavyweights such as Rick Stein, Angela Hartnett and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage fame. But while Ciotta brings plenty of modern-day kitchen smarts to her role, a big part of her brief was to look backwards.
“We want to cook food as traditionally as we can, so we looked back to see how people did things back in the day and do it the same way,” says Ciotta.
The menu at Neighbourhood Bagel – plus that exquisite sensation of being temporarily paralysed by choice – will be familiar to anyone that’s spent time at a New York bagel shop or deli. Bagels and schmears – cream cheese-based spreads, bagel-kind’s BFF – are a key part of the shop’s offering and between the eight different bagel types and eight different schmears, one has 64 different bagel-schmear combos to road-test. (Ciotta says blueberry bagels fortified with a savoury schmear such as maple and bacon, jalapeno or spring onion have been a popular breakfast order.)
The filled bagels give Ciotta opportunities to flex her kitchen nous. The pastrami for the Reuben is house-made; hot English mustard helps jolt the egg-salad into life; and the egg “pancake” in the breakfast bagel sees steamed egg and cheese layered together, similar to Japanese tamagoyaki. While much of the menu leans into American food culture (check out the peanut butter and jelly bagel, as well as a buffalo-chicken number – two of the wilder items on offer), Ciotta also references her time cooking in London. The salt-beef bagel made with house salt beef, cheddar cheese, dill pickles and mustard is inspired by Brick Lane’s legendary Beigel Bake, a bagel stop that’s as legendary for slinging beef bagels 24/7 as it is for the curt manner of its staff. Thankfully the staff here go about their business with a little more cheer: what else would you expect from a spot with the world neighbourhood in its name?
As to the future, management would love to explore making their own bagels (the shop currently uses bagels from Holy Bagel) and opening additional outlets in suburbia.
Shop 4, 172 St Georges Terrace, Perth (entry on King Street)
Mon to Fri 7am–2pm