Bagel Champ will open inside Byrd & Barrel in March

Byrd & Barrel owner Bob Brazell will incorporate a new element into his chicken restaurant: Bagel Champ, a bagel sandwich concept that will operate in tandem with Byrd & Barrel starting March 23. Bagel Champ will operate Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In addition to traditional bagel sandwich offerings like the bacon, egg and cheese and the sausage, egg and cheese, Bagel Champ will serve out-of-the-box items like the Century Park, an Asian-inspired sandwich based around a unique egg salad. Brazell said he came up with the idea after visiting Century Park in Shanghai, where he proposed to his wife.

“It’s basically all my favorite flavors from that trip,” he said. “It’s really heavy on sesame, chili, garlic.” The egg salad is made with Brazell’s take on a traditional tea egg, which is an egg boiled halfway between soft and hard, then peeled and soaked in black tea, black vinegar, soy, chili, garlic and other flavors.

As far as the bagels, Brazell expects to offer plain, poppy, sesame and other rotating selections, like a beer cheese bagel that has a bit of St. Louis baked into it. The recipe includes 4 Hands Single Speed as well as malt syrup made by Earthbound Beer.

“We simply replaced the water with beer, which really helps the fermentation with the extra yeast from the beer,” he said. “We work a little bit of Provel cheese into the dough, and then we top it with cheddar after the boil, before the bake.”

Brazell is also developing a multitude of schmears, including a regular cream cheese and spreads with bases like smoked trout, roasted wild mushrooms, roasted garlic and more.

Brazell embarked on a research journey that led him across the United States as he searched for the perfect bake. “We went to, obviously, New York. We went to Chicago; we went to San Francisco. Probably the best one that really blew me away… you’d think it would be any of the old-school joints in New York – those are great –but Tartine in San Francisco. Literally the best – I mean, all their bread – but the bagel was just mind-blowing. The best chew, the best texture. It was unbelievable, man.”

Brazell hopes to open a Bagel Champ brick-and-mortar eventually; he’s also scouting a second location for Byrd & Barrel, which he hopes to finalize this year.

When Bagel Champ opens, bagels will only be available as sandwiches, but Brazell hopes to sell them by the dozen and half-dozen in the future. 

Adam Rothbarth is a staff writer at Sauce Magazine.