When Kettleman opened in mid-April, touting New York-style bagels, boiled-not-steamed fanatics flocked and quickly formed opinions. Like hot wings, cheese-steak, deep-dish pizza and other regional food specialties, the authenticity of bagels is often a touchy topic.
Jeffrey Wang, who opened Kettleman after owning and operating three bagel shops and a bakery-deli on Long Island from 1980 to 1997, isn't worried. His dough is made with quality high-gluten flour, the bagels are boiled—not steamed—in 45-gallon kettles, and the fiery furnace is a revolving stone-hearth oven. The kettle water, however, is 100 percent local. (Yes, some west-of-the-Hudson shops claim to import New York tap.)
Kettleman bagels are good—nicely browned, chewy and with a decent crumb (90 cents plain, $1.25 with butter or jelly, $1.95 with cream cheese, $2.45 with flavored cream cheese). Complaint: They don't have the weight and density that the best N.Y. bagels boast. But they're tasty, and you'll find all of the to-be-expected flavors along with less common ones like oat bran and blueberry.
The 50-plus-seat space is colorful in a Starbucks-y, craft-show kind of way, with a small bookshelf stocked with bestsellers, New York Times papers strewn about and local art on the walls. There's also free wi-fi as well as free soft rock—lucky you.
Order at the counter and choose a dressed-up bagel if you're into that kind of thing. Choices range from an egg and sausage or soy sausage ($3.45) to Boar's Head hot pastrami ($6.25) and local wild-caught lox with cream cheese ($6.75). But know this: If you order a hot bagel sammie it's going to be nuked, lending a slightly rubbery feel to the whole deal.
Drinks include Bridgetown coffee, Tao of Tea teas and all kinds of bottled juices. There are also loads of other baked goodies to choose from, including cookies, brownies and Danishes.
But bagels are the draw. And with these Wang's hands are full, with in-house business as well as freshly signed accounts with New Seasons Market, Elephants Delicatessen and several local cafes and coffee shops.
Says Wang: "Our kettles can each hold a maximum of five dozen bagels. Any more, the temperature drops, and the bagels won't boil correctly. It's not like boiling an egg, it's very swift. The good bagels float, but if they aren't proofed right they sink."
Here's to Kettleman staying afloat—just like its bagels.