Last summer, you may recall that our favourite cake man, Dominique Ansel, launched a special bakery (see here). It was the dessert hit of last summer. A few months ago, we chronicled the emergence of new-age croissanteries in our hometown of Melbourne, Australia (see here). Well, in line with this burgeoning bakery-focused trend, some of the most sought after desserts this summer in NYC are not necessarily from cake stores or fancy restaurants, but rather from bakeries. And not just any bakeries. Serenaded by some serious social media hype, we recently joined the mind-boggling lines at three of the city’s newest bakeries. Here’s our take of what to order. A warning upfront, one pastry from any of the following bakeries will leave you with barely any change from a $10 note…debate whether that’s because the bakeries are over-capitalizing on the hype while they can, or because they have to accommodate inflation…:P
- Dessert destination: L’appartement 4F, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn.
- Budget: $$.
- Must-eat: The Framboise Almond Croissant.
- Short and sweet story: We first heard of L’appartement 4F on Instagram during the early months of the pandemic. Although the original operations were located just a few streets south from our own apartment, we never managed to visit, oops! Fast forward two years, and the young couple behind L’appartement 4F has opened a pretty bakery on an otherwise lacklustre street that bisects our Brooklyn Heights neighbourhood. The French breakfast pastries here are significantly flatter, softer and more buttery than many we have had before. If you prefer a crispier, voluminous pastry, you will be disappointed. Of all the baked goods, the “Framboise Almond Croissant” — an almond croissant with raspberries inside and out — stands out. Trot over to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade to munch it with a panoramic view of the city. If you want a cookie though, skip L’appartement’s and go to Ella Crown a few streets away on Atlantic Avenue instead.
- Dessert destination: Librae Bakery, East Village, Manhattan.
- Budget: $$.
- Must-eat: The Rose Pistachio Croissant.
- Short and sweet story: Librae bills itself as a “third culture bakery,” but in truth, it’s more or less a French-American-style bakery with a very, very slight Middle Eastern accent. For example, just a dash of pistachio there, a touch tahini here, halva, sumac or chai elsewhere, it’s just a whisper of a difference. Regardless, the quality of the baked goodies here make Librae our favourite new bakery on this list. Although we are trying to plan for the day we return for Librae’s decadent focaccia slab, its “Rose Pistachio Croissant” is our one great love. It has a crispy shell and more volume and heft than L’appartement 4F’s, and in our opinion, it warrants far more hype.
- Dessert destination: La Cabra, East Village, Manhattan.
- Budget: $$.
- Must-eat: The Rye Tart, and the Cardamom Bread.
- Short and sweet story: Upon entering La Cabra, we instantly felt “not trendy enough.” Not only does La Cabra have an entire countertop dedicated to ultra-advanced, ultra-hipster coffee-making techniques, many of its patrons sport that curious mismatch of clothing that wouldn’t look out of place on a homeless person, yet accessorized with a Balenciaga Hour Glass or a Jacquemus Chiquito. Turning to La Cabra’s baked goods, much has been written, Instagrammed and Tik-Tok-ed about La Cabra’s “Cardamom Bread“. It is indeed a fragrant, pull-apart morsel. But for us, it lacked a certain complexity that we prefer in our desserts. Instead, our hearts belong to La Cabra’s “Rye Tart.” This is how we want our oats done every morning. 😛 Instead of a boring bowl of grey, the rye tart featured a heart of the smoothest white chocolate panna cotta, layers of crunchy hazelnut, and a crispy shell bordered with oats. It’s one of our favourite dessert surprises in a long time.
- For a round-up review of NYC’s best cardamom buns, see here.