Max Bagels | Elle Decoration South Africa
Entrance on Bree Street

A bagel is a bagel- it’s not a roll with a hole

Max Bagels is an exciting new pocket-sized bagel shop on Bree Street, Cape Town. Their fabulous bagels overflow with flavour and fillings; this is the perfect spot to grab a bite on the go. We caught up with the owners, Matthew Freemantle and Andrew Kai. Here’s what they had to say… Max Bagels | Elle Decoration South Africa

Tell us a bit about the background of Max Bagels.
We found this space a year ago; at first it was the base for our paella business. Andrew was in New York for a little while last year around the time we were trying to settle on a concept for the space. When he got back we flicked through his pictures and started chatting about the shots of bagels packed with fillings. That’s when the penny dropped and we realised that we had identified a niche market that was a perfect fit for the space. The name came from us both having a nephew named Max. We also wanted to get away from the whole artisanal naming and keep it simple, approachable and fun for people. The idea is that everyone is welcome; even though we are in hipster central we don’t want to prescribe to any particular group.Who designed the interior? Jakob Basson was the fitter and designer who then commissioned bespoke pieces from Xandre Kriel. The corporate identity, as well as the plasticine artworks, are by Ben Johnson and Dale Lawrence.
Max Bagels | Elle Decoration South Africa
Andrew Kai and Matthew Freemantle| Plasticine artworks by Ben Johnson and Dale Lawrence.
What is so special about a bagel?
A bagel is a bagel, it’s not a roll with a hole. It’s all about the density of a bagel. It’s very chewy, but light at the same time- with a lovely glaze around it. There are two types of bagels: there’s the Montreal bagel and the New York Bagel. The New York is boiled before it is baked, whereas the Montreal bagel is placed straight into a wood -burning oven. Our bagels are made New York style.
What are your top sellers?
Smoked trout, crème cheese, capers and red onion. This is something people are used to eating so it is often their first choice. Salt beef is the up-and-coming choice. Most people don’t quite know what this is and often mistake it for something that it’s not.
Max Bagels | Elle Decoration South Africa
Why is there a hole in the bagel?
Originally, the bagel was made with a hole so that vendors could run a piece of string through a bunch of them and tie the ends for customers to take home. There’s a lot of mythology around the shape – some refer to it as being spiritual in that in symbolises the circle of life. Others say it is purely practical: because the dough is quite dense, a hole allows for faster baking. The true origin of the shape goes way back to a Turkish invasion of Austria, if I’m not mistaken. The bread that was baked as a tribute was crescent shaped and hence a bagel, a crescent rolled to join at the ends, was symbolic of that victory. Do some reading – it’s all quite fascinating.
Matthew, what is your favourite bagel? Spelt bagel with salt beef, pickle and mustard. Andrews, yours? Probably the Cinnamon raisin with Honest chocolate spread.
Max Bagels | Elle Decoration South Africa
What should you drink while smashing your bagel?
Definitely Rosetta coffee in the morning and perhaps a freshly pressed juice. Our juices are classified as red, green and orange to keep it simple. This also allows us to always use produce that is in season, steering away from imported fruit and veg.
Max Bagels | Elle Decoration South Africa
Definitely worth the visit.
120 Bree Street Cape Town Western Cape
Website: | 076 042 0224  | Email: 
Compiled by Christine Boyter