Andrew Kai and Matthew Freemantle are not your ‘ordinary’ culinary duo – their food philosophy is about marrying imagination, experimentation and only the very best, and in so doing they’ve managed to bring the ‘extra’ out of the ‘ordinary’ in the Cape Town food scene with Max Bagels.
It all began 4 years ago when they both returned to Cape Town after stints overseas. Andrew had just started a Paella business at the Biscuit Mill and invited Matthew on board. The business boomed over the period of a year with expansions into the private catering sector and other markets around Cape Town and Johannesburg.
They then started SUP; a monthly gathering where guests can indulge in 6 courses made using different and experimental ingredients and cooking styles, rabbit, pigeon and wild boar can be found on their menus often cooked underground or eaten in the dark - they brought a kind of theatricality to their dining experiences.
They had realized their niche: ‘elevating simple things’ and doing them really, really well.
They found the little spot on Bree Street and decided they wanted to create a Spanish-style tapas joint, but just then La Parada opened 2 doors down, so they decided to sit on it until they could come up with something different and special.
In the meantime Andrew went to New York; on his return he and Matthew flicked through the photographs of his trip and noticed an abundance of bagel stores at every stop. They’d found their idea. But, they needed to do it right.
The next few months were spent sourcing the perfect traditional NY-style bagel recipe: a sourdough base, proved overnight, boiled in water with malt syrup and baked at a high heat – the recipe was imperative and so was the baker – so they sought out the best artisan for the job (though they’re keeping her a trade secret.) After months of experimenting and tweaking, they finalised their range of bagels: a plain, a poppy seed, a sesame seed, a spelt (low in gluten) and an ‘everything’ (multiseed, onion and garlic).
It then became about creating the fillings: salted beef with pickle and mustard, smoked trout with cream cheese and capers, grilled fennel and leek, chicken and coleslaw as well as daily specials; it’s once again about simple, but good.
After a long chat and a lot of laughter I dig into their signature offering: an everything bagel with salted beef…it’s ridiculously good; the bagel is soft but dense with the slightest hint of sweetness from the malt syrup, and the salted beef (a little like brisket, but more delicate), with mustard and homemade pickle changed my life a little – I’ve never had a bagel like this in this country, seriously – damn, these guys are good.
They’ve also got great coffee and freshly squeezed juices, all served with a smile (a simple but good one of course.)
Max Bagels was reviewed by Kate Liquorish - follow her @undomestikated.
120 Bree street
7am – 4pm Mon – Fri
8am – 2pm Sat