Columbus Bakery on 1st Ave/53(?)
In my expanding search for a decent lunch in the East 50s, I headed over to 1st Avenue and was amazed to find Columbus Bakery (somewhere between 54th and 52nd).
They've done a pretty good job of recreating the place, down to the tile mosaic exterior (which was surprising since that was a design leftover from the restaurant that the bakery replaced). They've got also a nice little garden out back.
The crowd however, is entirely different, probably more likely to go to Columbus, Ohio than to the West Side. Not a baby carriage, lap top, or artistic-type in sight.
While the food wasn't amazing (somewhat soggy portobello/veggie sandwich with much more squash than mushroom), the chocolate chip cookie was. Huge, nice balance between crispy and chewy, big hunks of walnuts, hint of brown sugar. Definitely worth the trek.
The bread at Columbus Bakery is excellent. You are right about the crowd - interesting because next door at Metropolitan Cafe you can't move for baby carriages at lunch time. And they are owned by the same company - ARK Restaurants (yes, I used to work there). They also have City Harvest come by at the end of each day to pick up the unsold product - and I like anyone who does that!