Tucked away in the kitchen of each Paris Baguette, bakers trained in French techniques craft buttery, flaky croissants and tart crusts, and their success at this has earned attention from the likes of the New York Times. In addition to pastries and sweets such as mocha rice balls, the bakers knead bread for their namesake baguettes and yeasty creations that hold an Asian twist, such as red-bean-paste-filled donuts. The experts also create fondant-cloaked cakes that venture beyond classic flavors into green tea, cappuccino, and sweet potato, delighting partygoers bored of the same laminated sheet cake that makes its appearance at each year’s birthday celebration.
To wash down these treats, patrons sip cups of java or more exotic drinks such as wheatgrass and black-sesame lattes, persimmon smoothies, and bubble tea. At lunchtime, many locations layer sandwiches, filling hungry stomachs with croque monsieurs and baguettes stuffed with chicken and pesto.
It's always flattering when your dessert is the party's favorite. Carousel Cakes—and its bite-size offshoot, Cupcakes by Carousel—knows this feeling well. The bakeries' creative confections have received commendations from every corner of the media, from Time Out New York and InStyle to The View and, perhaps most notably, Oprah, who featured their red-velvet cake in O Magazine and named their blue-velvet cake one of Oprah's Favorite Things in 2012. "Gayle fell hard for this blue velvet cake with cream cheese icing and sugar snowflakes," the media icon gushed. "Just add coffee, milk, or a flute of champagne." The treats also sweeten meals at more than 1000 restaurants, including Zabar's and the American Museum of Natural History in New York and Aldo & Gianni Ristorante and Sear Restaurant in Closter, New Jersey.
As a sister company to the family bakery that Martin Lefkowitz opened in 1965, Cupcakes by Carousel specializes in handheld versions of the treats that won all this acclaim. Besides a mini adaptation of the famous red-velvet cake, the staff creates confections such as the Curious George—a vanilla cake filled with banana custard and topped with peanut butter buttercream frosting and chocolate ganache—and its version of Hostess’s Pink Snowball. All the shop's cakes and pies are certified kosher, and staff can even fill up glasses with swirls of their famous frostings and toppings for clients who like their cupcakes sans cake. Cupcakes by Carousel also lends its hand in local communities. Recently, the Englewood shop raised money for girls' education in developing nations through the nonprofit organization She's The First.
At Yo-Delight, guests lounge on plush sofas or a cushioned purple bench and sip smoothies filled with tapioca pearls or dig into chilled cups of frozen yogurt. They fill these cups with their choice of 24 daily flavors, some of which are sugar- and fat-free, and then pile on the toppings from the toppings bar, which contains 80 options. For a more filling treat, patrons can opt for a freshly prepared sweet or savory crepe—a flaky treat that's both comforting and rich, much like a waterbed filled with banana pudding. In addition to frozen treats, Yo-Delight features entertainment such as music, WiFi access, six flatscreen TVs, and free usage of iPads and Xbox consoles.
Now an international brand of premium ice cream, H?agen-Dazs began as a humble, family-owned business in the Bronx. In the 1920's, Reuben Mattus sold his mother's fruit ices and ice-cream pops out of a horse-drawn wagon. For decades, the family business thrived, and around 1960, Reuben officially founded H?agen-Dazs. He chose the name to evoke Old World traditions and quality craftsmanship, the bedrocks of the brand. Originally, the ice cream came in just three flavors?vanilla, chocolate, and coffee?made from fine ingredients gathered from around the world, such as Belgian dark chocolate, hand-picked vanilla beans from Madagascar, and ice shaved from lunar glaciers. The resulting confections so delighted sweet teeth that the brand grew exponentially, leading to the creation of dozens of flavors and forays into sorbets and frozen yogurts.
Though H?agen-Dazs ice cream was immensely popular in grocery shops, their first parlor didn't open until 1976. Not far from the Mattus family's original ice-cream beat, the Brooklyn store sold ice cream as well as treats such as sundaes, shakes, and cakes. Shops eventually dotted the country and globe, wherein friendly ice-cream scoopers fill waffle cones, blend frosty coffee and ice-cream drinks, and wrap ice-cream cakes in bright ribbons.
Absolute Bagels’ green awning reads "Appetizing," "Baked On Premises," "Hand Roll Bagels." An eclectic assortment of potted greenery blooms in the window beneath. It might seem like an average sort of place—if it weren't for the dense line, which is replenished all morning long. The staff takes cash only and keeps the line moving, rewarding those who brave the crowd with fresh-from-the-oven treats, such as pumpernickel bagels piled with whitefish or whole-wheat everything bagels slathered with a garlic-and-herb spread. They also stock a full line of dairy-free Tofutti imitation cream cheeses. Absolute Bagels has garnered an almost legendary reputation about the city. _Time Out New York calls the spot a "neighborhood gem… serving freshly boiled bagels in their most perfect form." Eat This NY deemed them "truly spectacular," and Gayot gives them "high marks for flavor, especially the egg, cinnamon-raisin, and whole-wheat sesame."
Located just one floor beneath his highly-acclaimed restaurant Per Se, Thomas Keller's casual French boulangerie-style café offers diners a taste of the back-to-back James Beard Award-winner's cuisine without the jaw-dropping price tag. Pastries that could have been plucked straight from Paris tempt from the glass display, among them pastel-hued macaroons, delicate madeleines, and savory ham and cheese croissants. There's heartier café fare as well, starting with country-style pate with cornichons or salmon rillettes, and progressing up to entrée-size portions of hanger steak with beurre rouge or gnocchi in brown butter. Another thing the bakery shares with its dearer upstairs cousin is the view out the front windows. Diners can sip a passionfruit mimosa while watching the traffic spin about Columbus Circle or ponder how many profiteroles it would take to span the distance from their table to nearby central park.