Sour Seed is a fitting name for a new breakfast and lunch spot selling upmarket bagel sandwiches in Midtown Miami.
Here, chef/owner Christopher Slawson's newest venture is producing some truly picturesque open-faced sandwiches atop hand-crafted Montreal-style sourdough bagels.
The naturally fermented and leavened dough is crunchy and flavorful, rendering it the perfect vessel for toppings like preserved lemon and Calabrian chili flecked with fresh sprigs of dill or a rich and aromatic probiotic-boasting truffle cashew cream cheese.
Despite a new bagel obsession, Slawson's passion for bringing healthy, creative cuisine to South Florida began years ago with Christopher’s Kitchen, a restaurant he opened in Palm Beach Gardens in 2011. For years it operated as a spot for healthy to-go fare, but several months before the pandemic, the chef sold his stake in the partnership for a move further south.
In early 2020, the Palm Beach County-based chef began to channel his same zeal for healthy fare with a new space off Northeast First Avenue in Midtown Miami, quietly opening a restaurant named Thatch alongside business partner Ron Tysoe.
Then, just weeks ago, Slawson pivoted focus, turning the market entrance of his 5,000-square-foot restaurant into a space for his latest passion: bagels.
"I really wanted to make something different, something Miami doesn't have right now and landed on the bagel," Slawson tells New Times. "I've always loved making dough, and I love bagels. I decided to create a sourdough bagel that's super crunchy with just a hint of chew. It's nothing like a New York-style bagel."
From its market-style space, Sour Seed has kept to Slawson's roots, offering nutritionally conscious choices from fresh-pressed juices and raw desserts to a house-made vegan soft serve so delicious you’ll forget it’s good for you. The shop also sells Counter Culture coffee, smoothies, and açaí bowls alongside a growing selection of packaged snacks, natural wine, craft sodas, and beer.
Over the last few weeks, Slawson, alongside a small team he matriculated from Thatch, has been hard at work transforming the restaurant into a bagel haven.
As part of that process, Slawson says he's been pursuing bagel-baking mastery, tweaking his Montreal-inspired recipe daily to ensure it's "just right." The end result is a thinner, denser bagel made from a dough that ferments for 24 to 36 hours before it's boiled in molasses-sweetened water and baked to a crispy, slightly burnt shell. Flavors include onion, poppyseed, sesame, everything, and plain.
A simple menu offers less than a dozen options available as full or half-sized sandwiches served open-faced. The resulting presentation — seed-crusted bagels adorned with delicate and flavorful garnishes — is so refined and delicate it immediately conjures cravings of Danish smørrebrød (pronounced smuhr-broht), tiny sandwiches built on thin layers of sourdough rye bread called rugbrød.
Not unlike traditional smørrebrød piled with toppings like pickled herring, schmears of cheese, or mounds of plump shrimp, the open-faced bagel sandwiches at Sour Seed feature an array of toppings that highlight a house-made cream cheeses and specialties like smoked river trout, smoked salmon, and a divine egg salad.
From Slawson's short and sweet menu, customers can also build their own sandwiches using those house-made schmears, each derived from a base blend of organic cream cheese, sour cream, and lemon juice that whips into light, freshly-flavored spreads. Current iterations include an herb blend of chive, dill, and parsley; pimento; seasonal fruit; and preserved lemon with Calabrian chili.
The real novelty is the chef's vegan probiotic cashew cream cheese. Available plain or accented with truffle, it has a rich flavor and smooth, creamy texture that belies its true nature. Tell us it's regular cream cheese, and we'd believe you.
Whatever you do, don't miss the "Sweet & Salty," a bagel of your choice layered with the seasonal fruit spread, whipped tahini, honey, fresh berries, and crunchy flakes of Maldon sea salt.
"Put too many things on a menu, and it's too hard to keep the quality consistent," says Slawson. "That was the motivation for me — give Miami something special, and try to make the perfect bagel sandwich."
Sour Seed. 3255 NE First Ave., Miami; 786-655-4945; sourseedbagels.com. Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.