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why are there no bakeries on the Upper West Side?

Daniel Sonenberg Aug 10, 1999 10:45 AM

Apart from Columbus Bakery on 83rd/Columbus, and t
the Hungarian Pastry Shop on 110th/Amsterdam,
there is next to nothing by way of bakeries on
the Upper West Side. I know it's common knowledge
that food in general sucks on the UWS, but I would
think a well placed bakery in the nineties or low hundreds
would thrive. Even a bad one, for God's sake.
For a while there was a generic, neither-here-nor-there
Hot & Crusty look alike around 102nd and Broadway,
but even that vanished in the night. This morning
I detoured to City Bakery in desperation (I live on
103rd and work on 34th, so that is a detour) and
had an excellent almost no fat cinnamon raisin
scone AND a great blueberry muffin (like almost all
blueberry muffins, there were not enough blueberries,
but the taste and consistency of the muffin were
perfect. What I was really craving was one of their
delicious pretzel croissants, but alas, there were
none to be had.)

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  1. m
    Michael RE: Daniel Sonenberg Aug 10, 1999 07:22 PM

    Gourmet Garage on Broadway between 96th & 97th has some
    decent breads, and there's always Lenny's Bagels on
    98th for bagels and muffins.

    What about Latino bakeries? I haven't searched them
    out, but I'll be there are some in the low 100s.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Michael
      chef RE: Michael Aug 10, 1999 11:45 PM


      1. re: chef
        Daniel Sonenberg RE: chef Aug 11, 1999 01:05 AM

        Gourmet Garage and Fairway are not bakeries in my book. Yes, Fairway does stock a lot of good bread, and some of their other goodies are scrumptious as well (bagels uptown rock!) but walking into these stores is not at all the experience of walking into a bakery. I'm talking small, non-chain, everything-baked-on-the-premises bakeries, where you can walk and get
        your daily baguette and...ok, I know it's not Paris but...

        Besides all that, I would love to go to Fairway for
        daily baked goods if it weren't thirty blocks North or South
        from me. Gourmet Garage is close, but basically I think
        Gourmet Garage sucks. Their breads are all overpriced
        (Barzini's at 91st has cheaper and better bread) and
        any time they have something I really dig they discontinue
        it (so far: their bakery pretzels and their delicious
        low-fat corn/berry muffins.) I could go on for hours
        about my negative feelings for GG. They seem not to
        have any idea what their identity is--are they a gourmet
        store? (no--too many items aren't available in high-quality
        versions (e.g. anchovies)) are they a supermarket (no--selection
        is far too sporadic) are they a budget store (hell no!
        despite occasional deals on stuff their prices lean toward
        the criminal. I always have the sense in Gourmet Garage,
        at least the one up on 96th, that this is a store
        that was assembled without much thought or care, and
        plunked down in a neighborhood that is desperate for
        good markets/bakeries/food shops to make some quick
        green. We were all so excited when they announced
        they were moving in, and they've offered nought but

        Phew. That said, I'm in that clip joint just about every day
        because this place is a chowhound Sahara.


        1. re: Daniel Sonenberg
          jen kalb RE: Daniel Sonenberg Aug 11, 1999 11:35 AM

          Dan, well, there used to be more bakeries on the upper
          west side - Louis Lichtman on 86th, cakemasters, and
          another small chain whose name I forget, etc. There
          was such a bakery on B'way around 100th at least till
          the early 80s. But these died out when the older,
          mittel-european population that primarily supported
          them moved out - the new population were gym rats, not
          bakery shoppers. Most good bakeries are found in the
          midst of an ethnic community which supports them,
          views bread as a daily staple item (which must be
          reasonably priced, so commercial rents must be low)
          and keeps them honest. None of these conditions apply
          to today's upper west side.

          On the other hand, a lot of french type bread from
          local bakeries round the city is not so wonderful -
          and other outlets, including gourmet garage, zabars
          etc. increasingly have good, fresh bread trucked in
          daily. When I lived up by Columbia, I used to pick up
          Joe Speikerman's Swiss Peasant Bread and some pate at
          Samad Deli on my way home from work - the bread was
          fresh each day and wonderful-what a treat. Picking up
          bread became part of our routine when visiting other
          neighborhoods - we'd go to Chinatown for dim sum, then
          walk up to the Italian Food Center for the wonderful
          big loaves they sell and to Alleva Dairy for
          mozzarella and parmesan; the Village required a stop
          at Zitos; wherever we went, we were on the lookout.

          1. re: jen kalb
            Kate RE: jen kalb Aug 16, 1999 02:12 PM

            I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Levain, which
            is a first-rate (if not small) bakery on 74th street
            off Amsterdam avenue. They bake their breads, cookies
            and pastries daily, and everything is really good.
            They make monster-sized cookies that are out of this
            world - I'm partial to the chocolate chocolate chip,
            but many people prefer the chocolate chip with nuts.
            Give them a try!

            1. re: Kate
              dnr RE: Kate Aug 17, 1999 10:59 AM

              levain also makes the best scones! but go early...
              they sell out quickly.

          2. re: Daniel Sonenberg
            Alan Divack RE: Daniel Sonenberg Aug 11, 1999 08:26 PM

            Fairway (uptown) bagels rock???? Say it isn't so. To
            me they have a texture resembling stale cupcakes. I
            would only serve them to out-of-town guests who don't
            know any better.

            The only acceptable bagels in the neighborhood are
            Absolut, 107th and Broadway, but be sure to ask for
            them well done.

            1. re: Alan Divack
              Daniel Sonenberg RE: Alan Divack Aug 13, 1999 12:23 PM

              To be honest, the only Fairway Uptown bagel I've had was a
              Cinnamon raisin, hot out of the oven. It was among
              the best I've had in the city, and I was going in
              skeptical. That said, I love Absolute Bagels, and
              they are my bagel of choice in this neighborhood...
              far better than Lenny's or Columbia Hot.

              1. re: Alan Divack
                Michael RE: Alan Divack Aug 17, 1999 12:53 AM

                "The only acceptable bagels in the neighborhood are
                Absolut, 107th and Broadway, but be sure to ask for
                them well done."

                Yes, they're good, but H&H is chopped liver to you? Not
                to me!

                1. re: Alan Divack
                  Jeremy RE: Alan Divack Aug 17, 1999 09:08 AM

                  Come on, what about University Bagels on Bway near 110?
                  They're one of my faves.

          3. p
            Pam Sommers RE: Daniel Sonenberg Aug 11, 1999 12:57 PM

            Royale Bake Shop on 72 between Bway and WEA. Old-
            fashioned, traditional and wonderful.

            Ruggelah, babka, coffee cakes, great normal-sized corn
            and bran muffins, excellent rye and corn-rye bread.
            Go there!

            Also, not a bakery of course, but Zabar's has many
            good baked goods.

            Columbus Bakery (alrrady mentioned by others) has, I
            think, a wonderful selection and top quality. More
            "contemporary" style, or sophisticated baked goods
            than Royale, e.g., croissants, rosemary rolls, etc.

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