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.
When Palermo’s Bakery opened nearly three decades ago, it was a small storefront affair. Husband and wife team, Joanne and Jerry Bruno, baked small-scale confections at first, but over the years, Jerry became adventurous, constructing elaborate designer cakes that grew more intricate over the years. Twenty-five years later, thanks in part to those same creations, the small Italian bakery has grown into two custom cake shops with more than 50 staff members.
Still helmed by the Bruno family, Palermo's Bakery creates lavish wedding cakes bursting with fondant flowers, and specialty cakes sculpted into an array of improbable shapes, such as 3D champagne bottles. Though baked goods and pastries vary by location, they often include more than 20 flavors of cookies, Italian treats such as cannoli, and kosher desserts such as rugalech. All of the duo’s whimsical creations are available for pick-up or delivery.
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.
Lady M Confections’ signature mille crepes dessert is a study in contrast. The 20-layer cake is light and airy, thanks to the lacy crepes that form the structural foundation, yet packed with flavor due to doses of luscious cream that cement each layer together. When combined with its artful presentation, it’s no wonder the cake was named one of the best cakes in America by Bon Appétit magazine. The carefully constructed delicacy comes in flavors such as green tea, coconut, and chocolate banana. Lady M's bakers also practice devout attention to detail when creating French-style desserts such as glossy fruit tarts, frothy coffee mousse, and pumpkin nuage, which blends the textures of a pumpkin pie with cheesecake for a decadent autumnal dessert.