Tag Archives: bakery

SusieCakes: another SF bakery to the rescue

l

Thanks to SusieCakes, I now have a place where I can find the perfect slice of cake – chocolate, red velvet, coconut, or carrot cake-mood alike. The thing that gets me about most cupcake shops is that 1) they limit themselves to cupcakes when they could easily make cakes and 2) the cupcakes are laden with excess, sugary frosting, and 3) they are just too fancy for my taste. SusieCakes stocks their display case with a variety of beautifully frosted treats that are straight forward, homey, and scrumptious. It’s my west coast Amy’s Bread. My favorite? The red velvet mini cupcake, but for any homestyle flavor you’re craving, you really can’t go wrong here. They even sell SF Giants cupcakes.

tiny shop

tiny shop

red velvet

Halloween treats!

Halloween treats!

Definitely worth a special trip if you’re not in the neighborhood, or check out one of the 8 locations throughout California!

Grade: A+
Location: 2109 Chestnut btwn Steiner and Pierce Streets
Website

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Filed under Featured U.S. City Posts, San Francisco, Sugar Surge

Jane on Fillmore: a neighborhood café to die for

JAne

As bustling of a food-city that San Francisco is, I’ve always been disappointed by the lack of bakeries or coffee shops with awesome home-baked goods. New York City is chock-full of them – from Amy’s Bread to Billy’s Bakery, there’s a bakery available to the cookie obsessed and the cake fanatics in every neighborhood. Sure, San Fran has a few cupcake shops (I love Kara’s cupcakes off Chestnut), and incredible artisanal bakeries that aren’t as accessible to the Pacific Heights resident (Tartine is amazing), but homey cafés with an abundance of cakes, muffins, cookies, scones, and other butter, flour & sugar concoctions are SERIOUSLY lacking. Maybe my 4 years working at UC Davis’s Coffee House, which pumped out cakes (and cookie samples) by the hour, caused my withdrawal. Whatever it is, it’s a well justified concern.

jane from second floor

jane from second floor

Thankfully, Jane on Fillmore street has recently come to the rescue. Over the last few weeks of fun-employment, despite having the chance to explore all my neighborhood has to offer, I just can’t get enough of this café’s almond milk cappuccinos and scrumptious baked goods. The plentiful case displays more than enough options, but I can proudly say that I’ve pretty much tried every single one of them. They’ve got a buttery citrus brioche. A savory scone with ham, chives and cheese. Banana bread – both vegan and regular. A vegan pumpkin chocolate chip muffin for those sweet-craving mornings. The blueberry-banana muffin for the days I’m pretending to eat a healthy breakfast. There’s also a “Cooking for Breakfast” cookie that’s subtly sweet and stuffed with dried fruit and oats, for those who those who like that sort of thing. The cookies – which include flavors like sprinkles, salted white chocolate chip oatmeal, chocolate chocolate chip, chocolate toffee chip, and peanut butter-quinoa-millet are to die for, especially the ones that sandwich a scoop of cream cheese frosting. As I write this blog, I’m noshing on a “Crazy Cookie” filled with chips, chocolate chips, toffee, and marshmallow. True, it doesn’t get much crazier than this.

cappuccino

cappuccino

my fantasy display case

my fantasy display case

cake of the day

cake of the day

savory quiche

savory quiche

But that’s not all – Jane has amazing food to order as well, all homemade and most of the time organic. The granola – both vegan and regular – is like crack. I’ve bought them both, and I eat the oats by the handful. The breakfast sandwiches, like the one with egg, cheese, avocado, and roasted tomatoes stacked between two thick-cut pieces of griddled sourdough bread, are the perfect hangover helper. And the salads (there are about 10 of them) are fresh, healthy, and delicious, especially the ones with their house-made green goddess dressing. And how could I forget the energizing green smoothie with apple, lemon, kale, and ginger?

chopped veggie salad with green goddess dressing

chopped veggie salad with green goddess dressing

salad nicoise

salad nicoise

smoked salmon platter

smoked salmon platter

egg white breakfast sandwich

egg white breakfast sandwich

The space itself is beautiful as well – the natural light and the black and white motif are the perfect setting for zoning out on a laptop. And, though it’s always bustling in here, the energy is contagious, not overwhelming.

To put it lightly, I am freakishly obsessed with this place, and I fear that my pre-business school food budget is going to rapidly dwindle if my daily habit continues. But when I’m saddened by the thought of a day without a creamy almond milk cappuccino, I realize that it’s totally worth chipping into my school books’ budget. I’m just waiting for the day that the barista remembers my name.

Grade: A+
Location: 2123 Fillmore between Sacramento and California Streets
Website

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Filed under Brunch, Cheap Eat, Erin's Favorites, San Francisco

Co.: blistered 900 degree oven pizza in peace and air conditioning

co-pane

Pizza is my favorite food, and in a city like New York I get overwhelmed deciding where to satisfy my frequent cravings for it. Co. has been on my list since I learned that this civilized Neapolitan pizza restaurant was the creation of Jim Lahey, the well-known Founder of Sullivan Street Bakery. But avoiding the crazy thoroughfare beyond 23rd street always got the best of me just when I was close to testing it out. Now that I’m moving in September (to San Francisco before going to school abroad for a year – happy yet sad for many reasons, so let’s move on), I had no excuse to deny my urge to sample Jim’s pizzas when my hankering for crispy crust came on.

Fortunately, the wait-times have really died down over the past three years, and our party of 3 was seated right away. We started with a simple, tiny radicchio shiitake mushroom salad served with taleggio cheese, which was nothing more than a hunger teaser. The vinegar was bright, and the taleggio cheese was creamy and strong. We then tasted two pies, both unique in their own right: the meatball pizza with tomato, mozzarella, meatball, and caramelized onion, and the Popeye pizza with pecorino, gruyere, mozzarella, black pepper, garlic and loads of leafy spinach. I loved them both. The spinach pizza was bright, summery and healthily prepared with greens piled on top of a lightly-cheese covered pizza dough, and I didn’t miss the tomato sauce at all. The veal meatballs on the meatball pizza were the perfect addition to an otherwise plain tomato and mozzarella pizza, and the caramelized onion rounded out their saltiness perfectly. Though this pizza did come with sauce, I would have liked a little more of it.

radicchio salad with taleggio and mushrooms

radicchio salad with taleggio and mushrooms

Co.-Meatball-Pizza

Meatball pizza with olives and caramelized onions

Popeye pizza with spinach, gruyere, pecorino and mozzarella

Popeye pizza with spinach, gruyere, pecorino and mozzarella

Dough is obviously a key element to the quality of the pizza, and I have to say that the crispy, blistering pizza dough at Co. was one of my favorites. Its chew, texture, and weight and stood up to the bounty of toppings like a champ.

Co. is a great spot for those who want high quality traditional Italian pizza in a zen, pristine setting, almost identical to the aesthetic of San Francisco’s casual Out The Door. As a person who takes restaurant ambience preferences seriously, this is my kind of pizza joint, and I’ll definitely be coming back. Just keep in mind they don’t serve hard liquor.

Grade: A- (I’ll take the minus sign off when I get a plate of free bread)
Location: 230 9th Avenue @ 23rd Street
Website

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Filed under Affordable Date, American, Chelsea, Fun Group Dinner, Italian, Pizza

Sugar Surge: Breads Bakery – the most buttery and delicious chocolatey treats

I am a bakery fiend, you should all know that by now. So when I heard about the Breads Bakery opening near Union Square, I put a reminder on my calendar to head there as soon as time allowed. What excited me most about visiting this Israeli-run bakery is the rugelach, crescent-shaped Jewish cookies traditionally made with cream cheese and filled with chocolate or fruit. They’re awesome, and I’ve been eating them since I was sitting in my mom’s grocery cart at Grand Central in SF.

When I went to Breads the $1.50 tiny rugelach was the first thing I purchased. To my surprise, it was hands-down the best, flakiest, chocolatiest rugelach I’ve ever tasted. Most have a very dense, chalky texture, but this one is as light and fluffy as a croissant. The inside is soft, and the outside is golden brown and crispy. Absolutely addicting.

tray of rugelach

tray of rugelach

rugelach

buttery rugelach

The second time around, they were giving samples of their ridiculous triple chocolate chip cookie, which did its job in leaving me no choice but to buy one. I thought I knew the city’s best cookies, but I evidently failed to acknowledge that one of my favorite versions can be found here. The golden crust surrounds a chewy, soft dough layered with milk and dark chocolate rounds. It’s magic.

cookie

cookie

Then, just over the weekend I stopped by for a quick snack while shopping – how could I resist when the sign caught my eye while walking down fifth avenue? I almost went for a savory treat – the cheese sticks are delicious – but I again opted for the sweet chocolate bread. Amy’s Bread makes a wonderful sourdough twist with chunks of dark chocolate. This, however, takes the cake, and while it’s not as rich as a chocolate croissant, it packs the same dark chocolatey punch.

I’m three for three at Breads Bakery – every single chocolate treat I’ve tried has been a score. And with tons of samples for tasting, they’re my favorite type of place! Next time I’m committing to one of the cheese & egg tartlets.

Grade: A+
Location: 18 East 16th Street between 5th Ave and Union Square West
Website

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Filed under Bread Basket Breakdown, Cheap Eat, Sugar Surge, Union Square

Landbrot: the God of gooey gouda pretzel pockets

landbrot

Have you ever heard of a pretzel pocket? I hadn’t, but the concept of melting cheese inside a pretzel is sheer genius, and I’m ashamed that I was remis to think of it before trying it last week. It was the hectic night of Super Bowl – the 49ers were losing, the Mercedes Superdome power was out, and there were ten trays of delicious food (including an assortment of Parm sandwiches) around calling out my name. Amidst the chaos and distractions, I needed something simple and comforting to munch, and that’s when I reached for the glistening, golden brown Landbrot pretzel pocket. And then I couldn’t stop – as the game progressed I pulled apart piece after piece of the pillowy, buttery pretzel dough until my stomach felt like I had consumed a brick.

undeniably cheesy

undeniably cheesy*

Over-consumption aside, this is an urgent must-try for any bread and cheese lover. I often say that my favorite foods involve these two staples (quesadillas, pizza, brie on baguette…), and I’ve just added another to the list – I’m lucky this place is close enough for unbeatable cravings, but just the right distance away to help me to resist when I don’t feel like walking.

Landbrot’s serves a wide variety German salads, sandwiches, cakes, and desserts, and the space itself is modern, bright with natural light, and decked out with displays of copious amounts of German bread and pretzels for sale.

Grade: A+
Location: 137 7th Ave btwn Charles and West 10th
Website
Photo from Girl Eats City

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Filed under Affordable Date, Bread Basket Breakdown, Fun Group Dinner, German, West Village

Bakehouse Bistro & Bar

bakehouse inside

I thank goodness everyday that Bakehouse, the consummate neighborhood restaurant and bakery, operates directly across the street from me. Since it opened a year or two ago, it’s difficult to find an excuse to eat elsewhere when I revert to Lazy Erin and I can’t find any better nearby spot for breads and croissants. Bakehouse is perfect for any occasion, and I don’t just say that because I live conveniently a few yards away. On weekends it’s a cozy brunch spot with a mushroom, truffle, and asiago omelette and crispy ricotta pancakes; everyday of the week it’s a cozy setting for cappuccino + chocolate brioche laptop sessions, a vibrant spot for bar-seating and cocktails, and a bakery calling my name for that regrettable post-dinner cookie or chocolate-almond croissant. Bakehouse has also created the perfect cabin-like set up for a low key dinner with good music and comforting food. So after a day in the cold rain and the face breakout of the century, I couldn’t imagine a better, darker place to meet my co-workers.

their amazing omelette

I wouldn’t expect such a homey place like Bakehouse to have the inventive cocktail menu that it does, but it’s the number one reason I go here. The restaurant is full of high tops and bar seating, perfect for the many solo neighborhood diners or the ladies desperately looking to strike up a conversation with the cute (and wonderfully kind) Australian bartender. Last night, though, my friends and I sat at a four-top, stuck to wine and focused on the food. We started with a truffled mac and cheese that was to die for. Just as I am with Stouffer’s, after years of eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, it’s tough to be impressed by the real deal (same thing with brownies – Duncan Hines is just so much better than homemade), but Bakehouse scored big time with this one. The flat dish maximized the surface area for crispy, cheesy crust and each penne piece was coated with thick, truffley white cheese. We paired that with another healthy appetizer of fried ham and manchego croquettes, a pickled beet salad, and salmon tartare. The croquettes are essentially fried balls of mashed potatoes, so a little more texture would have made these pretty addictive. The salad was just fine, but essential with the surrounding food. the salmon tartare was delicious spread on a thin crostini, but I could have done without random bites of grapefruit. For our next round of food, we had the serrano ham with rustique toasted baguette that came doused in a garlicky saffron aioli. I am a die hard mayonnaise-hater but this was actually delicious, with bread toasted just enough to allow for easy crunching.

balls and mac and cheese

salmon tartare

When the dessert menu came out, my friend exclaimed “how can a place call themselves Bakehouse but have only three options for dessert?!” I agreed, but I know for a fact that the pastry chef, Walter, recently left. The abundance of cookies has also been looking pretty weak these days. We asked the manager who came by to ask us about our meal, and he said they were working on a few new items (possibly an ice cream sandwich!), and that not to fear, more options are in the near future. That satisfied us enough to order two out of the three – a tart tatin, and some ridiculously good vanilla ice cream profiteroles doused in dark chocolate. I sucked those puppies down pretty quickly – it doesn’t get much better than warm chocolate fudge. I was so full by the time I left, I couldn’t even taste the cookies that the owner kindly gave us on our way out.

Bakehouse has a little work to do on some of its food, but with the menu, the atmosphere, and the service considered, I absolutely love this airy, wooden tavern. And now that it has outdoor seating looking onto the Hudson River (and a truck lot), I have no doubt that this will be my go-to for all seasons.

Grade: A-
Location: 113 Horatio Street @ West Street
Website (which sadly needs a style upgrade)

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Filed under American, Brunch, Erin's Favorites, Fun Group Dinner, West Village

Levain Bakery Cinnamon Brioche

Crispy on the outside, but soft, pillowly, buttery on the inside, this subtly sweet brioche is my ideal breakfast fare with a cup of English breakfast tea.

brioche

Why does everything at Levain taste amazing?

Grade: A
Location: 167 West 74th St. at Amsterdam
Website:
  http://www.levainbakery.com

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Filed under Erin's Favorites, Upper West Side

One Lucky Duck: Tiramisu and Chocolate Tarte

tart and tiramisu

Every now and then I use my teammate’s mutual sweet tooth as an excuse to take a field trip downstairs to peruse Chelsea Market’s glorious assortment of treats. While this habit would normally be hazardous to our health and productivity, her veganism gives me the opportunity to try something that’s seemingly indulgent but actually (relatively) healthy. Fortunately, One Lucky Duck, a vegan and raw food take-away food shop, always stocks its refrigerator with rich, chocolatey sweets. The only downfall? Smoothies are $10+, and even the smallest oreo-imitation cookie costs over $5. But on an intense work day, there’s no better cure than a $15 tiramisu and a $12 chocolate tart. Made with coconut meat, raw chocolate, agave, pure maple syrup, and every other possible wholesome ingredient that turns something dairy free into something delicious, these desserts are a cross between a culinary science project and a piece of art. They’re rich, creamy, and unimaginably close to the best rendition of the egg and butter-laden real deal.

dense and creamy

My advice? If you have the cash to spend, you’re prioritizing healthy eating, and you’re having a sudden sugar craving, splurge and try one of the dessert specialties at One Lucky Duck. Make it a habit, though, and you may have to take out a loan.

Grade: A+

Location: Chelsea Market

Website: http://www.oneluckyduck.com

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Le Pain Quotidien

Some people may curse me for blogging about a chain that is almost as prolific as Starbucks in New York, but I really can’t get enough of it. To give this bakery some props, it was first opened in Brussels by a man who was fed up with the quality of bread in Belgium, and it has since become one of my go-to spots for not only homemade organic bread, but also for a filling, healthy lunch. I had my first Pain Quotidien experience in Paris, where I instantly fell in love with the cafe’s wooden communal tables and jars of creamy hazelnut spread shared among the customers for bread dipping. But sugar aside, the real value behind Le Pain Quotidien’s menu is bright, beautifully crafted, quality health food. Their main show-stopper is their creative tartine variations, open-faced sandwiches on brown sourdough bread, but their fresh salads, soups, bakery items, and bowls of hot cappuccinos are equally notable. When I’m in the mood for something light, refreshing, and culinarily satisfying, I head straight to the Pain Quotidien down the street and feel thankful that such an affordable, delicious, and pleasant place is situated just steps from my apartment.

quinoa salad

special lentil salad

buckwheat quiche

I have visited Le Pain Quotidien countless times, but some of my favorite dishes lately are the gluten-free vegetarian quiche (pictured above) and the lentil and quinoa salads, which come with avocado, lettuce, and fresh vegetables. Avocado, which I love, is thankfully found on a lot of their salads. And though these items are all vegetarian friendly, the menu is filled with lunch items that have prosciutto, chicken, or tuna. In fact, my sister’s favorite is their version of a turkey club – an open faced turkey sandwich with avocado and whole grain mustard.

There’s always something new and exciting to try on their menu – my next item is the ricotta and fig tartine. While I wouldn’t suggest it for dinner, when you’re in a part of New York city filled with Au Bon Pains or other processed-food chains, Le Pain Quotidien will be your saving grace.

Grade: A

Location: Multiple

Website: http://www.lepainquotidien.com

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Filed under Affordable Date, Brunch, Cheap Eat, Erin's Favorites, French

Pumpkin Pecan Knots at Amy’s Bread

the beautiful loaves of knots

I can’t say it enough – Amy’s Bread is by far the best Bakery in New York City. I don’t know what I did in my past life to deserve working directly above it…but then again, I’m not sure if this is a blessing or a curse. When the scents of baked bread and cupcakes waft up to my cubicle, I rarely can fight the urge to go down and see what’s baking.

I’ve promised myself that instead of going there every time I want something (as in, everyday), I can only go on a special occasion. When my colleague enthusiastically announced that her daughter got into preschool this afternoon, I knew the only thing that could truly express my team’s excitement for her was baked goods from Amy’s Bread. Her lucky day suddenly turned into mine!

The Doughy Knot

Amy’s Bread has specialty items that only come out once a year. The Pumpkin Pecan Knots are so good that I have anticipated the Fall more than any other season since I first tried them three years ago. I decided to get a round for the team, and even though we divided it into 8 individual wedges, the bread is so soft and buttery that it could easily be pulled apart with our hands. It has the perfect amount of sugar, doughiness, and crustiness to make it one of the best challah-like breads I have ever tasted. It is delicate yet dense, subtly sweet, and perfectly chewy. I can’t say the word perfect enough.

Make it a priority to stop by Amy’s Bread before the end of the season – If you have a chance to try it before it sells out, you will definitely become an addict of this Pumpkin Pecan Bread.

Grade: A+

Location: Chelsea Market

Website: http://www.amysbread.com

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Filed under Chelsea, Erin's Favorites, West Village