EyeSwoon

the bite: Black Seed Bagels

I am a Long Island girl, which means bagels were an integral part of my childhood – weekends were dictated by the brown paper bag dozen and weekdays were memorialized by the walk to the local bagel shop at lunch time in High School. We all have our own bagel memories but Matt Kleigman of The Smile and Noah Bernamoff, who conceived Mile End Deli, have certainly shifted the paradigm of the bagel with Black Seed Bagels on Elizabeth Street.  The entire experience has been thoroughly considered – from the bagel itself, to the accoutromants, the beverages, and finally the swoony design. Photos by It’s Masha

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WHAT WAS THE INITIAL SPARK FOR BLACK SEED BAGELS?

M: Noah and I met a while ago, but became better friends after Mile End opened on Bond Street. The two of us started getting together for drinks a few times a month, and that soon turned into complaining about the state of bagels.  I’ve lived on Elizabeth Street for 12 years and thought the space that had been vacant for a couple years would be perfect.

CAN YOU SPEAK ABOUT THE UNIQUE HYBRID OF THE MONTREAL / NEW YORK STYLE BAGEL?

N: Each city makes great bagels and there are elements of each that make them unique: Montreal bagels are sweeter, denser, and more manageably sized; New York bagels are saltier, breadier, and considerably bigger. So we thought, why don’t we make a sweet and salty bagel, that’s dense on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and just big enough to make a nice sandwich?

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WHY BAGELS? WHEN AND WHERE DID THE BAGEL CONCEPT STEM FROM?

M: We both love bagels

N: Bagels are part of our everyday, like coffee and pizza, except, unlike coffee and pizza, bagels were, until recently, relegated to the impossible to innovate bin. Seeing how people respond to revitalizing traditional foods, we believed that the time was right to give bagels the culinary treatment.

GROWING UP IN NYC I HAVE SOME SERIOUS BAGEL MEMORIES SURROUNDING WEEKENDS AND HIGHSCHOOL LUNCH – ANY SPECIFIC BAGEL MEMORIES ATTACHED TO EITHER OF YOUR CHILDHOODS?

N: I grew up eating bagels almost every day. In my parents home, there were always bagels sitting in the bread box next to the rye and challah.

AND THE WOOD FIRED OVEN?  IS THIS UNIQUE TO BLACK SEED?

M: It is definitely unique to bagel-baking in NYC. In Montreal, bagels are still made very traditionally using the wood fired oven.

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MOST SWOONED AFTER BAGEL MOMENT ON YOUR MENU?

N: It’s definitely the #3 with tobiko cream cheese, smoked salmon and lettuce.

PERSONAL FAVORITES?

M: Sesame #1. Classic bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese tomato, onion, and capers.

N: Not easy to choose but I’m a major sucker for egg salad.

OK, ITS SUNDAY MORNING – YOU ARE CRAVING A BAGEL – GO…….. TOASTED? BUTTERED, CRÈME CHEESE? LOX? PEANUT BUTTER?

N: I invented my own bagel eating style, known as the rip ‘n dip, where you rip off pieces of bagel and dip them into little cups of cream cheese. I’m very partial to untoasted sesame bagels and horseradish cream cheese.

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Black Seed Bagels

Swoonisms

  • Matt Kleigman + Noah Bernamoff

    • CAN YOU BRIEFLY SHARE EACH OF YOUR BACKGROUNDS IN HOSPITALITY? HOW YOU JOINED FORCES?

      N: I started Mile End Delicatessen five years ago and have been preaching about turning back the clock on traditional Jewish foods since then. Matt opened the Smile and quickly developed the ability to commune a neighborhood. The combination of our skillsets is Black Seed.

      I AM MILDLY OBSESSED WITH THE DESIGN – CAN YOU SPEAK ABOUT THE DECISION IN MATERIALS – THE MARBLE AND WOOD ELEMENTS ARE SIMPLY STUNNING!

      M: We wanted to use a few materials, let the food take center stage, and be very careful not to “overdesign.”  Our friends Evan & Oliver from hOmE designed a beautiful space with these considerations in mind.

      CAN YOU SPEAK A BIT ABOUT DIANNA AND HOW SHE DEVELOPS THE SWOON-WORTHY FLAVOR COMBINATIONS ON THE SANDWICHES?

      N: First we look to the classic playbook and ask what is essential and what can be improved with straightforward modifications. Then we source great ingredients and do as little to them as we can. And then we combine the ingredients until we hit on perfect combinations.

      DO EITHER OF YOU COOK AT HOME?  IF SO – GO TO RECIPE YOU HAVE MASTERED?

      M: Both of us cook at home. I have recently been tackling eggs though – soft scrambled, soft boiled, and omelettes. Sound simple but they are oft overcooked or made poorly.

      N: I don’t cook as much as I should at home but when I do, I try to cook fish since I eat so much meat out of the house.

      FAVORITE LOCAL JAUNTS?

      M: EstelaVic’s.

      N: Rucola and Prime Meats

      A PERFECT FOOD DAY IS……

      M: A bagel at Black Seed, lunch at The Smile or Smile To Go, and dinner with my fiancé Sophie somewhere new.

      N: Drinking Riesling with crusty sourdough bread, French butter and thin slices of smoky country ham until I pass out. I’m sure my friends and family are somewhere nearby having a good time too. 

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