Rebelle Bagels opens in Kendall Square this week

webnexttech | Rebelle Bagels opens in Kendall Square this week

James Beard Award semifinalist Milena Pagán will open Rebelle Bagels in Kendall Square this week, a move that puts Pagán on familiar ground. Several years before she opened Rebelle Bagels in Providence, RI, and then followed that with that city’s much-lauded restaurant Little Sister, Pagán attained her BA in Chemical Engineering at MIT. That might seem at odds with bagel making and cooking, but Pagán doesn’t see a disconnect. “It’s not a traditional path, but they do have a lot in common,” Pagán told “Making bagels feels a lot like engineering.” The move north is something of a wrench, however, as Pagán closed Rebelle Providence last fall to move its operations to 249 Third St. in Cambridge. “I really wanted to open here and I didn’t have the bandwidth to do everything,” the Puerto Rican native said. “It was fun to start in Providence, but it’s fun to build it again from the ground up here. It felt right.” Rebelle’s Kendall Square reboot showcases a fun interior of “pool party” blue painted walls and deeper lapis blue tile, and is “more punchy” than Providence’s, Pagán said. “We have a gigantic mural. Me and my friend Carly painted it,” she said, referring to artist Carly Hendrickson. “The look we were going for is adult kindergarten.” The menu also expands on the original core selection of handmade bagels and spreads made from scratch everyday, including adding a daily special and more of the popular bagel sandwiches, too. “Our Mexican street corn cream cheese is really popular. We roast it, then take the corn off the cob, add cilantro, garlic and chili. Our beet, dill and horseradish has a lot of fans. We pickle the beets then shred them with extra hot horseradish. It’s bright magenta and very appealing to the eye. “I’m guessing Cambridge will be more adventurous. We can spice it up,” she added. For vegans, Pagán “engineered” a cultured cashew nut spread that’s tangy and tastes like a creamy cheese — “I can’t give away our secret ingredients, but it has a big following. It’s vegan, but it’s also for people with dairy intolerance. Every time I do a recipe it is like a scientific experiment,” Pagán added. Coffee, courtesy of Peabody’s Atomic Coffee Roasters, was chosen for its likeness to the beloved Puerto Rican coffee she has flown in for Little Sister — “It’s a pain in the butt to get, but it’s the best,” she said. Sustainability and cutting food waste is high on the agenda, Pagán explained. The sesame seeds that fall on the baking tray from the sesame bagels are turned into the halvah and chocolate cookie; she uses the skin sides of tomatoes that are oddly tossed out by most chefs in a tomato jam for the BLT Squared — that is BLT to the power of 2 because it has two types of tomato. “I know, it’s kinda nerdy,” she said. “It’s exciting,” she said of building a new Rebelle. “I’m just hacking it — in the techy sense,” she laughed. Rebelle is open Mon.—Fri., 7:30 a.m.—4 p.m., at 249 Third St., Cambridge.

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