by Abby Morgan, Eliot News
On a clear morning, as the sun traces a path from east to west, the light eventually breaks out over the treetops of the Eliot Neighborhood, slips under the freeway passes and spills sunshine onto North Russell Street. Still a quiet strip that’s surely poised to grow, right now it’s a mix of industrial shops peppered with business storefronts.
It’s during this time of day, at about 7:30 A.M. that you’ll want to make your way over to Bernstein’s Bagels. In the winter of 2018, Bernstein’s grew into the space that was formerly home to Mint, one of Portland’s mainstay cocktail bars. A labor of love and dedication, the renovation at 816 North Russell by owners Noah Bernstein and Peter Hurteau, features plenty of seating room and handpainted wallpaper by Melanie Nead.
In fact, Nead’s Lonesome West Studio – which focuses on custom wall treatments and ceramic objects – sits next to the bagel shop. Her Arts and Crafts Movement-inspired designs bring a coziness to the space and certainly do the historic property justice. The frieze she designed pays homage to the venerated everything bagel, and all dough boiled and baked. Concentrate on it closely and the subtle ingredients begin to pop out: sea salt, barley, wheat, and poppies.
Even as they bid farewell to their first location in St. Johns, a whole year after moving into the Eliot, Bernstein’s thrives. They continue to serve up delightfully hearty bagel sandwiches. However, the old adage rings true: the early bird catches the worm. Except in this case it’s bagels and they are very popular.
They are “hand-rolled, boiled, and made on-site twice daily.” Looking for a classic lox combination? You got it. Schmear not, their spreads change from time-to-time. Flavors you may know—cinnamon raisin, herb, and strawberry—tossed in with wildcards like carrot cake and once upon a time even pizza. The bagel is merely a blank canvas; how you dress it is up to you.
Bernstein’s Bagels is located at 816 North Russell. Hot bagels come out of the oven at 7:30am Monday through Friday and at 8:30am on the weekends.