Portland’s holey war is raging. Last year, after the popular Portland brand Kettleman sold its company to the Noah Einstein Restaurant Group—a corporate bagel giant pushing plastic rolls with holes—the city’s DIY epicureans stepped up to the plate. Now, everyone from small-batch creatives to delicatessen tycoons is rushing to perfect the art of bagel making.
Eastsiders swear by Spielman’s sourdough “Portland-style” bagels in Southeast Portland. Ex-New Yorkers gravitate towards KitchenCru’s new Bowery Bagels on Broadway, while many still turn to deli veteran and fast-expanding Kenny & Zukes for a civilized bagel and lox.
This week, we veer into the food cart world for a look at Portland’s newest bagel entrée: Alice’s Bagels. Alice Newton, who took over Lardo’s A-framed cart in the Good Food Here pod on SE 43rd and Belmont, has been putting her chemistry degree to good use, cold-fermenting dough and house-curing lox out of her commissary kitchen. Newton spent her years at Reed College perfecting the recipe and describes her model bagel as “not too big, very chewy, and a total carb bomb.” Her menu, a simple chalkboard list of fried egg sandwiches, ranges from sinful hangover cures (maple butter, Frank's Red Hot, cheddar) to seasonal specials (nectarine, cream cheese, arugula, maple-balsamic reduction).
The hard-boiled facts: Alice’s is a petit bagel with a blistered, glossy, amber-hued crust. The dough is excellent, with a salty, pillow-soft crumb and a chewy, tight skin. But it’s not perfect: the outer layer cracks and molts its shell—a result of Newton’s freezing/shipping process—and the subtle fermentation is a little bland by comparison to the competition.
With new bagelrys popping up every week, the Kettleman bagel vacuum is rapidly filling. With a little tweaking, Alice’s Bagels could prove to be a combat-ready candidate.
4262 SE Belmont St.