Following the loss of Kettleman’s, I’ve been on a quest for the best bagel in Portland.  Alas, none of them lives up to my golden  memories of what a great bagel was like in my childhood in Los Angeles.  Besides the outside crust being chewy, there is an ineffable quality of bagelness that I don’t have the vocabulary to express, but I know it when I taste it.   I have tried Bowery Bagels, Spielman’s, Bridgetown, and Henry Higgins.  None of them lives up to the standard of Kettleman’s as burnished by my memory, and which can’t be compared side by side with what now exists.  The winner of my taste test is Spielman’s, a pretty good bagel but still kind of soft and bread-like.  Second is Bridgetown, a cart on NE Sandy Blvd.  Bridgetown gets extra points because he makes  a great breakfast sandwich with real scrambled eggs, not a pre-fabricated disk of egg.  As far as I’m concerned, Henry Higgins and Bowery are out of the running.  The first time I went to Bowery Bagels, they gave me an over-baked bagel that should not have been served to the public.  Nevertheless I returned, and had a bagel that was OK, but not worth all the hoopla.  Henry Higgins is supposedly run by ex-employees of Kettleman’s, but apparently Jeffrey Wang withheld from them the innermost secrets of bagel-making that he learned in New York.

 

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