Utterly Delicious Best-Ever Bagels at Forage in Lewiston, Maine

For this post to make a lick of sense, you need to know a little about Lewiston, Maine, a city about a half-hour from where we live. Once upon a time, when the mills were booming and a decent living could be made, Lewiston was a thriving albeit small city that people actually wanted to visit. My mother and Clif’s mother both spoke about how going to Lewiston—from Skowhegan and Bangor, respectively—was a treat they looked forward to.

However, by the end of the last century, the booming days of the mills had come to an end, and Lewiston became a gritty, edgy place where people struggled to make ends meet. Gray and shabby and a little menacing, it was not picturesque. It was not cool. It was definitely not a place that tourists wanted to visit.

But Lewiston does have a few things in its favor. It is the home of the fine Bates College, which brings a little pizzazz to Lewiston, no matter how down and out the city might be. Lewiston is not far from snappy Brunswick or trendy Portland, but it is far enough away so that real estate hasn’t soared to the point where ordinary people can’t afford to buy a house. (Always a very bad sign, in my opinion, when house are out of reach for average folks. )

Slowly, businesses and good restaurants, lured by affordable real estate and a college community, have started coming to Lewiston. There seems to be a good change in the air, and Forage Market is a perfect example of this.

My friend Mary Jane alerted me to Forage Market. On Facebook she shared a piece from Saveur magazine describing how Forage’s sourdough bagels were baked in a wood-fired brick oven. The writer, Mathew Kronsberg, then went on to make this astonishing claim: “These were not just great bagels for Maine. They were great bagels for anywhere.”

On Facebook, I immediately wrote to Mary Jane, “We’ve got to go to Forge.”

“Ready when you are!” came her immediate reply.

So yesterday, on an April day with a lovely light rain, Mary Jane, Clif and I traveled to Lewiston to check out these great-for-anywhere bagels. Even on a Wednesday afternoon, Forage was packed with people of all ages. The tin ceilings, dark interior, and hip staff give the place a cool vibe that we all loved.

But how were the bagels? Readers, they deserved the high praise they got from Mathew Kronsberg. Simply put, I don’t remember having a better bagel anywhere, even in New York City. Heresy, I know. I got a sesame bagel, and it was loaded with those luscious seeds. Crispy on the outside, soft and springy on the inside, that bagel was oh-so delectable, and I could have one right now. Clif, with his poppy seed bagel, and Mary Jane, with her garlic bagel, concurred that these were terrific bagels.

My one regret is that because I had a bagel sandwich–smoked turkey, lettuce, tomato—I wasn’t able to appreciate the full deliciousness of my bagel. This means that I’ll have to go back soon, in midmorning, and have a bagel spread with butter and nothing else.

Mary Jane, are you up for another trip to Forage?


Scenes from the totally excellent Forage Market:

The funky interior


Honey and a glimpse of the hip staff


Clif and Mary Jane, ready for bagels!


Words to live by


And finally, those bagels!

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