I've been spoiled. I had cannelles at the Boulangerie Bay Bread in San Francisco and can't seem to find ones anywhere in the city that even come close to the caramelized custard-y goodness that's sold out there. I've tried the ones at Balthazar to my incredible disappointment (they might as well have just sold rocks), and I don't know where to turn.
Help a cannelle-deprived New Yorker, please?
I had one as a parting gift at 11 Madison that was delicious. You can try to call them to see if they'll sell one to you.
Petrossian cafe/bakery. I actually prefer theirs to Bay Bread, but it doesn't have the same wetness at the bottom--more of an equally distributed spongy-eggy-custardy consistency. They're small, but a deal at $1.20.
Balthazar's was very mediocre, I agree. However, the one I had was not hard, but sweet & mushy.
Bouley supposedly makes them, but I haven't tried one yet.
I kvell about canneles in this piece about the Dijon Foire Gastronomique:
RE: Cannelle in NYC
I just finished one (as part of a very indulgent lunch!) from Payard up on 73rd and Lex. They're a bit more spongey than custardy in the middle, but the outside has that amazing deep dark color and flavor. Other than my own, they're the only one's I've ever had here in NYC or elsewhere other than an unfortunate pound cake-tasting attempt at a restaurant whose name I can't even remember.
Good luck in your quest!
I just had one from Bouley the other day. Of the three I've tried in NY, Petrossian remains my favorite. Bouley's is a bit too sweet for me, but better than the cloying mushy one I had from Balthazar.
The ones at Petrossian are smaller than Bay Bread, Balthazar or Bouley. Bouley may be closer to Bay Bread in style.
Does Payard have a cafe/bakery for takeoout?
re: Peter Cherches
Payard has a lovely inner dining room. But you enter through a round of pastry counters filled with baked goods on one side and chocolates on the other. There's even a small patch of bar for coffees and such. The middle is filled with a handful of bistro tables so you can actually have a quick site-down takeaway bite without the white linens. They make a lovely croque monsieur and the croissants are crazy flaky. Nothing's cheap, but it keeps you from buying/eating too much!