Knead Bagels: you (k)need to nosh on these.

kneadbagels_storefront

In a nutshell: Philly’s bagel scene is shaping up nicely with the latest chef-driven addition (think black sesame and pastrami-spiced holey wonders) to Washington Square West.

Order your bagels at the counter, then enjoy your treats at a table inside or on the go.

Order your bagels at the counter, then enjoy your treats at a table inside or on the go.

Philly is experiencing a bagel revolution. From High Street on Market whipping up an impressive bread program including bagels and bialies to Schmear It trucking along with unique bagel-and-schmear combos, eateries throughout the city are filling the holes in Philadelphians’ bagel-loving hearts.

Enter Adam and Cheri Willner. These Matyson alumni (back-of-house and front-of-house, respectively) bring that same creative inspiration to their newest brainchild Knead Bagels. Adam–who honed his skills at Jones, Continental, and Matyson prior to Knead–started making bagels for Matyson’s brunch service and learned the tricks of the trade before launching into this latest venture.

Time to enter bagel nirvana.

Time to get our cream cheese on.

Adam and his crew experimented with over 100 flavor combinations before settling on the current menu. In addition to offering the stars of the show and their sidekick cream cheese spreads, Knead sells breakfast/lunch sandwiches, soups, salads, and coffee from local roaster Elixr. Nearly everything is made in house; perhaps the only thing outsourced is the base (Philadelphia Cream Cheese) for their innovative spreads.

We went all in on a baker’s dozen and ordered every flavor still available (meaning we’ll have to return for a Moroccan-spiced apricot bagel soon!).

Plain bagel.

Plain bagel.

The simplest option is the best way to taste a bagel in its truest form. Knead achieves the crisp crust and chewy interior that good bagels require. I’d love to come here early in the morning to try a bagel hot from the oven, so toasty warm that steam emits from where you tear into it.

In addition to plain, approximately half of Knead’s lineup are classic choices:

Everything bagel.

Everything bagel.

Poppyseed bagel.

Poppyseed bagel.

Onion bagel.

Onion bagel.

Garlic bagel.

Garlic bagel.

The other half of the menu features more ingenious flavors:

Togarashi bagel.

Togarashi bagel.

Togarashi with scallion lime cream cheese.

Togarashi with scallion lime cream cheese.

Togarashi is Japanese for the genus Capsicum: chili peppers. Shichimi togarashi–a popular Japanese spice mixture composed of coarsely ground red chili pepper, ground sanshō (another type of pepper), roasted orange peel, black/white sesame seeds, hemp seeds, ground ginger, and seaweed–is often used in soups, noodles, and rice crackers, so the crossover to bagels was bound to happen. A touch of brightness from the lime lightens the standard scallion cream cheese, and it’s almost inevitable that you’ll want to layer on some strips of silky lox.

Black sesame bagel.

Black sesame bagel.

Cheri’s recommendation was solid: kimchi cream cheese was an excellent partner-in-crime for the black sesame bagel. (Don’t worry, the often-pungent fermented flavor isn’t overpowering, adding a welcome savory kick.)

Superfood bagel.

Superfood bagel.

Flax and chia seed turn the humble bagel into a superfood champion.

Pastrami spiced bagel.

Pastrami-spiced bagel.

The hint of black pepper is a nice touch in this delicately-flavored torus. They recommend pairing it with smoked chopped liver for a Jewish deli shoutout, but I could also see this with one of the current sandwich options: housemade Angus roast beef with asiago, pickled kale, and cherry pepper aioli. (As I thoughtfully chewed this bagel, I realized how fantastic Hershel’s East Side Deli pastrami would be in between these two halves.)

Fennel and sea salt bagel.

Fennel and sea salt bagel.

My exposure to fennel during childhood was limited, simply tucked into the occasional Italian sausage. Metropolitan Bakery’s fennel sourdough pretzel was the first treat to turn me onto the fennel/dough combo, so suffice it to say, I was pretty excited about this bagel. The herby, licorice-hinted scent is intoxicating.

Porcini bagel.

Porcini bagel.

Porcini with balsamic cherry cream cheese.

Porcini with balsamic cherry cream cheese.

Forget basic strawberry cream cheese from the refrigerated aisle: a fragrant balsamic cherry cream cheese is all you need. This slightly earthier bagel provides an excellent base to balance the sweetness and tartness.

No truer words were spoken.

No truer words were spoken.

Yes, Knead, you got what I need.

Knead Bagels
725 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA
http://kneadbagels.com/
Knead Bagels on Urbanspoon

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