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great cakes/pies in the Forest Hills area?

  • j

Am a big fan of the Little Pie Co. in Manhattan....do we have anything comparable here in FoHi or anywhere in this neck of Queens for that matter?

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  1. Don't know the Little Pie Co., but assume it's all about pies. There was a recent thread about Queens bakeries, with a bit of info about Forest Hills/Rego Park bakieries, amongst others. Here's the link:

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/455921

    Bottom line, in the Queens Blvd./Austin Street part of Forest Hills, there's not much quality around. Some who have posted like certain things from certain places, but I don't think there's a consensus great, "go-to," old-style, all-around place and there's nowhere I know of around here that has a reputation of fabulous pies. Beware, the ones in the window at Martha's Country Bakery look alot better than they taste.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Shayna Madel

      Shayna summed it up perfectly. And I can't help emphasize enough to stay away from Martha's.

      1. re: pellegrino31

        I really just don't get how Martha's and Broadway Bakery stay in business. Am I a "baking snob?" Are most people just not that picky? Other than certain things from Bonelle, I would endorse most baked goods from Costco sooner than anything from either Martha's or Broadway Bakery.

        1. re: Shayna Madel

          If you're a baking snob then I gladly join the company :) But in seriousness (or about as serious as we can get) it's really disappointing to go to Martha's or equivalent and get icing that clearly tastes like it's from a can, cake mix from a box and pie filling that is not fresh despite their claims that it is. I don't think it's too much to ask from a bakery that they take care and consideration into the quality of their products. But the problem I think especially in Forest Hills is that there are plenty of places that just "phone it in" - not just bakeries, but restaurants too. But I digress...

          Bottom line is to get something from Bonelle if you have to get it in this area.

          1. re: pellegrino31

            It kills me that these places take the time to make their stuff look pretty and it tastes so blech. Not stale, just flat or "commercial." That's using cheap ingredients, whether oils or margarine instead of butter, or mixes or canned frosting. And I am serious about the Costco thing. I have had a lot of their stuff over the years and a lot of it it is better than most supermarket bakeries (though that doesn't take much) and better than most of the local bakeries, though the pies and tarts are so huge that you need to have a large group to consume them.

    2. Bonelle on Ascan Ave. makes great pies, but for Thanksgiving you need to order them in advance.

      1. It doesn't have the selection of the Little Pie Co, but Andre's Hungarian Bakery has a nice selection of good fruit pies. And my family loves their chocolate mousse cake.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Val55

          Martha's is truly disgusting. Someone told me the original in Astoria is better. I couldnt even imagine how you go from vile to inedible. They have a good gimmick. Nice sign, clean layout, they lure you in and you get duped

          1. re: Val55

            Several people have mentioned Andre's. I guess I will have to make an Andre's/Knish Nosh run one of these days...And amazingly, Martha's is still in business. I have heard people say that the Astoria location is better, which would make me think that it's not the ingredients (presumably they use same suppliers) and it's the baker in Forest Hills, but the stuff looks good, so I am confused.

            1. re: Shayna Madel

              I've been buying pastries from Andre's for many years
              (my Grandma lived on 67th drive) and they are just as great now as they were
              40 years ago. I picked up Pastries and Knishes on Sunday. We had a piece of Cherry Cheese Streudel last night, it was deelish.

          2. La Dolce Italia on Metropolitan has some beautiful/delicious cakes. Their fruit tarts are quite good also. Have not had any of their pies.

            3 Replies
            1. re: monicatm

              I have to say I am not sure why there is so much Martha's Hating going on. I find their items to be pretty good. I am not saying it is the best bakery but to compare it to Broadway isn't fair. Martha's has a great thing called portions. I can go in there and get a piece of cake for $3 instead of a whole cake.

              1. re: Swedish Meatballer

                It is hard for me to comment on your opinion that you find Martha's "pretty good." I do not know you or what you are used to eating or what your expectations are. I do not know your frame of reference. I just expect more than average, at least as good as what I can produce at home. I expect bakeries to put out flavorful products and not try to hide behind pretty things in the windows. I expect use of real butter, good cream cheese and store made fillings, not pre-made fillings purchased wholesale. I simply do not taste that in Martha's. Their stuff is just not that good--not inedible, just not that good. I acknowledge that what I have tried has been fresh, but I expect more than "not stale." Of the several things that I have tried from there, none was "full of flavor."

                Being able to buy a single portion of things is great for we single, live alone people. But the ability to buy portions is simply not worthwhile if that portion is boring, commercial and artificial-tasting. And that is what I think Martha's is.

                As far as comparing Martha's to Broadway Bakery, I did not. I simply questioned how either could stay in business. I said this because I believe that neither produces good product. But for what it's worth, my personal opinion is that Broadway Bakery is the worst in the neighborhood. Whatever I have ever tasted from there in the way of cakes/cookies has no flavor at all. It's one step away from eating air.

                I'd rather have nothing than pay good money to eat from either of these places.

                1. re: Shayna Madel

                  martha's is so gross, everything i've had (gifted tarts, pies, cakes, etc.). broadway bakery is a whole other animal, and gross. thank goodness I live in rego park where andre's reigns supreme (their strudels, croissants, rugelach and pies? all delicious, all made fresh that day, and incredibly soulful.

            2. Many thanks, everyone! It's funny about Martha's.... there is always a crowd there (perhaps due to the relative lack of alternative options in the area)

              2 Replies
              1. re: jenkc

                I can't figure it either, except for your theory about lack of choice. My other thought is that they have seats and they are right near a movie theater.

                1. re: Shayna Madel

                  I've never eaten anything from Martha's, other than a cupcake...which seemed good enough to me...but then again, it was just a cupcake. But my wife bought a chocolate babka there which I brought in to work for our Thanksgiving party...it was demolished and everybody loved it. then my wife bought another one to take home...my son said it was the best chocolate babka he had ever tried. I haven't tried it myself...don't like babka...and I'm not much of a baked goods fan....wouldn't know whats great anyway.

              2. How about that little Chinese bakery by the South side Forest Hills subway exit? Any report on it?

                4 Replies
                1. re: baconstrip

                  I have not been in this location, but hear their pork buns from another location, I think in Flushing, are supposed to be pretty good. I don't think they have much in the way of typical "American" baked goods, but will try to get over there on my lunch hour one day this week and take a look.

                  1. re: baconstrip

                    It's Fay Da Bakery, which, along with Taipan, is a chain. You'll find branches in both Manhattan's and Flushing's Chinatowns as well. I was pleasantly surprised when this branch opened, in that it is a taste of Chinatown right in my neighborhood, and its' popularity might bode well for the future of Cantonese cuisine in the area (wishful thinking though that is). That said, I don't find it to be anything all that great or special. I go there a few times per week for their Mon Tao, which are slightly sweet steamed buns. If you're not familiar with Chinese bakeries, it might be a good intro, as the fare is pretty typical, but there are far better bakery options out there if you're willing to stray from the neighborhood. Anyhow, the coffee is cheap, strong and good, and it's good to have a non-Starbucks option, even if it is yet another chain.
                    P.

                    1. re: Polecat

                      ya its very typical, and, I even find it to be a bit more expensive than what I remember or what I'm used to, e.g, $1 for a bun that is usually 75 or even 65 cents, etc. don't be tempted by their weird hot dog contraptions, no good. but at least I can go there instead of the one in elmhurst, just off broadway near queens blvd. one consistent thing is their coconut breads, baked in large tin pans and basically, swirls of rich coconut in between sweet brioche-lake dough; really good.

                      1. re: bigjeff

                        "...I even find it to be a bit more expensive than what I remember or what I'm used to..."

                        Given the neighborhood, you have to expect that. It's still a decent cheap option, for any hood. What cracks me up is that this is the only Fay Da, perhaps on the planet, that brews decaf, albeit for a whopping $1.35 a cup. They're just not used to doing decaf. You can even get a cheaper cup next door at the T-Bone (!). But, yeah, they do some things very well. It's not what I would consider a go-to joint for pork buns, though; I'd rather ride the rails to Mei Lei Wah or some other tea house/bakery for that.
                        P.

                  2. Okay, so at www.foresthills72.com, not a chowish site of course, they are taking a vote of favorie bakeries. One day more to vote. I know some people actually like Martha's, but how could it possibly have twice the votes as Bonelle?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Shayna Madel

                      Another thumbs down for Martha's. I was extremely excited when it first opened; however, everything I've tried has been pretty gross. I think anyone (even a 10 year old) can make better cupcakes at home - and I'm really not exaggerating. I'd rather eat a Hostess cupcake than their overpriced $3 cupcakes.

                    2. If their apple turnovers are any indications of how good the cakes and pies are, then they are dynamite! Since Bonelle in FH has THE BEST apple turnovers.

                      1. Bonelle is the best! She uses only the best ingredients, real butter, eggs and cream, and you can taste the difference. Those apple turnovers are darn good, as are the croissants, the danish, lemon meringue, carrot cake, tiramisu, and the eclairs. If I were going to buy a cake for something special, this would be the place. They do so many things well in so little space with so few people. Bravo Bonelle!!!!

                        1. i have just had the oppurtunity to read this blog and i am amazed about how wrong many of you are on martha's. i have been going there since it opened in forest hills and have always had a great experience. The cupcakes blow away Magnolia and Crumbs and ore only $2.00 each not $3.00. You certainly did not try the Oreo or the Redvelvet. The apple pie costs $10.00 compared to the Little Pie Company which costs $24.00. That is over double. Try the cranberry/walnut and let me know what you think. I have watched the kitchen make their own crusts and do all the baking on site. you need to try it again. they have only been open 4 months and things may have gotten better since, the last time you were ther. go again and let me know. I went to cooking school in Switzerland and have a pretty good idea what things should taste like. They also do have the best Bobka..

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: msuhotelgrad

                            I tried Martha's for some tarts and a pie and thought they were nothing special..cute little spot, but nothing special going on there ----head over to Andre's for the best rugulach..

                            1. re: janie

                              Try the carrot or redvelvet cupcakes. i also like the TIRAMISU and Napolean. in my opinion the apple pie is a good value for 10 dollars. It is not the best but, good and always fresh. It is a nice spot to sit and grab a coffee and mini tart. i will check out Andre's and let you know.

                            2. re: msuhotelgrad

                              had both the apple pie, and also an apple tart, both with really weak, insipid crusts and mealy fruit. had various other chocolate-y desserts which were fine, boring whatever.

                              1. re: bigjeff

                                I like little pie company the best for pies, especially the sour cream apple. i do not think Marthas compares to them but, it is certainly good for the price and the buttercream cupcakes are great. I think Juniors is terrible and they charge a lot...

                              2. re: msuhotelgrad

                                It is unfair to compare prices between a Manhattan bakery and a Queens bakery, given that in all likelihood overhead in Manhattan is substantially higher in Manhattan.

                                As far as quality of product, sorry, but I am not impressed, plain and simple. To me, and apparently, to several others, the emperor has no clothes. Things look good, don't taste great. The fact that things are made on-site is irrelevant to how the product tastes, except possibly as to freshness. If you do not use good-quality ingredients, your stuff is not going to taste great, even if you make it an hour or two before it is put out on display.

                                Though I did not go to cooking school (or baking school, for that matter) in Switzerland, I know that the pastry is napoleon, not napolean and the cake is babka, not Bobka.

                                At least we agree that Junior's isn't any good.

                                1. re: Shayna Madel

                                  Everyone I know on this side of Queen's Blvd loves Martha's. The Oreo and German Chocolate Cupcakes are awesome. Can't believe all you people hate it so much.

                                  1. re: alacsto

                                    for the record...i think that Martha's in Astoria is terrible too. I heartily agree with the recommendations for Andre's. The apple strudel is fantastic...the babka is amazing and I love the cherry squares.

                                    1. re: Yaxpac

                                      Shout it from the rooftops: Andre's PRUNE DANISH...real deal.

                                  2. re: msuhotelgrad

                                    What you said was that you went to cooking school in Switzerland, with the implication being that you had substantial training and knowledge about bakery products. It's only your screen name that gives any hint about your possible connection to the hotel industry. I have no need to return to Martha's (which, by the way, has been open for more than 6 months, not just 4 months). I never said that I hate this place. My posts from the outset have made it clear that it is my opinion that the place is mediocre and uses mediocre ingredients and apparently I am not alone in this opinion. If you think I am being tough by comparing my home baking (which, though decent, is certainly not professional-quality and in any event, you have not tasted) to that of a business operated by professionals, then so be it. As I said in one of my earlier posts on this thread, "I expect bakeries to put out flavorful products and not try to hide behind pretty things in the windows. I expect use of real butter, good cream cheese and store made fillings, not pre-made fillings purchased wholesale. I simply do not taste that in Martha's. Their stuff is just not that good--not inedible, just not that good." If you think it's being tough to expect that a bakery use "real" and good-quality ingredients, rather than using some substitute for butter, and commercially-produced fillings, you are entitled to your opinion. As far as Amy's is concerned, the only Amy's I know of is a bread bakery in Manhattan. They don't make cakes, pies or cookies, as far as I know. So if that's the place you're referring to, I frankly don't get the reference. The comparison between a bread bakery and a cake/pie/cookie bakery is misplaced.

                                    1. re: Shayna Madel

                                      Amys is a bread place and they make everything. That is why i referenced it. http://www.amysbread.com/hellsp.htm. it will probably suit your taste. go to the local ATM before you go there.

                                      1. re: msuhotelgrad

                                        I stand corrected. I have been to the Amy's in the Chelsea Market a couple of times, but not recently and did not recall that they do any sweets. And thanks for the recommendation, but I really am not hard up enough to drag myself to Manhattan for a few cookies or sweet rolls, or bread for that matter. There are good places in Queens and Nassau (and I am sure in Brooklyn, but I'm not knowledgable about Brooklyn) to get bakery goods. Just not too much around Forest Hills. And certainly not Martha's.

                                2. We have been going to Martha's since it opened in Forest Hills (it opened in May right after Mother's day) and have only had great experiences. From the cupcakes to the cheesecake everything has been wonderful. Every time we need to bring dessert some where we stop in to Martha's. We even have friends who come into Queens from the city to go to Martha's.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Meramos

                                    do you live in the area? where else do you like to get stuff?

                                  2. After several posts on this thread, many within the last few days, I decided that I would give Martha's another shot, in the interest of fairness, so I trotted down Austin Street after work and purchased an assortment of items to try.
                                    (1) Carrot cake cupcake - Frosting just awful. Waxy texture and barely a hint of cream cheese flavor. Frankly, did not taste fresh. Cake part somewhat dry and no real depth of taste--may have been caused by using regular white sugar rather than brown sugar.
                                    (2) Oreo cupcake - Frosting actually somewhat addictive, given that it was mostly crushed oreo jammed into some sort of white frosting. Chocolate cake part passable.
                                    (3) German chocolate cupcake - Frosting a gooey mass with pecans and shredded coconut. Very sweet. Chocolate cake part passable, but not intensely chocolate.
                                    (4) Cannoli - Really average cream. Didn't stink, definitely not a must-have. Okay, I did finish this one, since it was inoffensive.
                                    (5) Strawberry cheesecake - Scarily artificial-looking and tasting topping. Cheesecake had virtually no flavor--not bad flavor, just no flavor. Full of air. Reminded me of the texture of whipped cream cheese, but without any real flavor. I tossed the remainder of the slice after my"testing."
                                    (6) Mini apple pie - Crust mysteriously cakey for what was supposed to be a pie crust, as if they used some sort of cookie dough for the crust rather than pie crust. For being so cookie-like and thick, crust had really blah, not buttery taste. Texture of apple in filling okay, but flavor not all that great. After eating 1/4 of the pie, I ate the remaining apple slivers and tossed the crust.

                                    To sum up, the experience confirmed my earlier feeling about the place. Really, really average and some not good at all stuff. Would never consider this a consistently "good" bakery.

                                    12 Replies
                                    1. re: Shayna Madel

                                      Did you ever make it to Andre's? Go there next and get some rugulach--their strudel's good too. That's a real bakery.

                                      1. re: janie

                                        rugelach top notch, and also try their cheese puff; a powdered-sugar dusted pastry confection with a distinctly lemon twist to the delicious cheese (almost granular) filling. my numero-uno favorite pastry right now.

                                        1. re: janie

                                          Haven't made it there yet, not for any particular reason (okay, I am a lazy-a-- and would rather take the car than the train, but know how the parking stinks down there), but my mother is dropping hints for me to bring her some knishes, so I will do a double. Mom's been nice lately, so maybe I will do it next weekend.

                                          And I guess the Martha's stuff was so uninspiring that the stuff I kept after the taste-test has been sitting in my apartment for nearly 2 days and I forgot all about it until I started attempting to clean my kitchen and even then did not attack it.

                                          1. re: Shayna Madel

                                            I give you a lot of credit for giving Martha's another shot - you're far braver than I am.

                                            1. re: pellegrino31

                                              On a few threads on this board, when I have said that I tried a place awhile back and didn't like it, a prime supporter will say "but have you tried it LATELEY?" I was bored, it was a Friday night and I had no plans, so what's a girl to do? If I did not live and work within walking distance of Martha's, you can bet that I would not have bothered. The grand experiment is over. Their stuff is so inconsistent that I would not risk buying their product to put out for guests without trying it first and I am not going to keep giving them money just to find the few things that I would put out for guests...

                                              I was at a party over the weekend where there were some ruggelah that were so full of flavor. They looked like ones that have been brought to me from Bonelle. I have to ask the host where they came from.

                                              I still yearn for a bakery with old-style danish, coffee rings, Jewish rye, rolls, etc., but I do not hold out much hope.

                                              1. re: Shayna Madel

                                                your yearning can be satisfied, if you just get yourself over to Andre's already!! Save you money and spend it there, you'll need it for the rugelach, it's close to the price of gold--:)

                                                1. re: janie

                                                  Okay (she says with a hangdog tone in her voice), I'll really try to go this weekend. I don't mind spending money on good stuff. It's feeling ripped off after spending money on mediocre stuff that I have a problem with, even if the price is not off the map.

                                                  1. re: Shayna Madel

                                                    Shayna, call there first and find out when a batch of rugelach is coming out and ask her to put aside a lb for you...there's nothing like it when it's just been made....

                                                    1. re: janie

                                                      They have a website--the stuff looks great. Prices certainly not cheap, but it's all relative to what you're used to and are prepared to spend. (I may be a bit used to the sticker shock having been raised on the north shore of Long Island!)

                                                      www.andresbakery.com

                                                      1. re: Shayna Madel

                                                        it's really not expensive at all, if you want to compare pastries and things to pre-packed cellophane packages or plastic boxes of rugelach. prices are reasonable and really worth it. these days, the son is taking care of the counter and even sometimes the generation after that but guaranteed pastry goodness with pretty much every item. well, except their sugar-free line of course.

                                                      2. re: janie

                                                        I did it--I did my little trip to Rego Park. That little corner of heaven--Knish Nosh and Andre's. Went first to Knish Nosh, for the food of my people and a can of Dr. Brown's, but before I even got inside, I caught a whiff of Andre's.

                                                        After buying some knishes for me and some to bring to Mom (what a daughter...), I went into Andre's. It had the aroma of a good bakery. Can't exactly describe it, but doesn't just smell like someone has been baking, but baking with quality ingredients. No such aroma at any bakery I have ever been in in Forest Hills.

                                                        I bought 1/2 lb of rugelah, a 1/2 strip of cheese strudel and some hazelnut triangle thing. No, the rugelah aren't cheap ($14.00 a pound), but frankly, not really substantially in excess of what some places charge for your average bakery cookies. Just fabulous. Very, very similar to the flavor of the homemade ones my sister and I made very recently, but thinner dough. I chose cheese strudel ($10 for the half-strip, probably 9" or so long) over apple and over cabbage, as the rugelah had fruit and some of the knishes I bought had cabbage in them. Another winner. The hazelnut thing was my least favorite. Tasted fresh, just not to my liking.

                                                        Definitely a sure winner. Sorry that in all the years I have gone to Knish Nosh, I managed to overlook this place. Somewhere I could go to, buy something and serve to company without hesitation (or what the heck, just treat myself).

                                                        Thanks, Janie.

                                                        1. re: Shayna Madel

                                                          Congratulations! You are now inducted into the secret Rugelach Club! This is the rugelach you take on airplanes, guarding it with your very life, and this is the rugelach that the mohel was stuffing into his pocket after my son's brit after he already ate half the platter...(oh well, he deserved it!)...this is the rugelach to honor the living, and the dead, and the all the in between moments, too.

                                                          Glad you liked it.

                                        2. The cannoli from Nick's are pretty good. I sometimes get just that to go on my way home from work. For a fuller bakery, I like the cookies and the tarts from Dolce Italia (and my wife likes their cannoli and eclairs). They're on Metropolitan Avenue between Ascan and 72nd, so not right at the subway, but I thought that I would mention them (seconding Monicatm).

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: nemonemo

                                            several years ago when Dolce Italia first opened, I was very excited about them because he worked for Bruno Bakery in the city, and knew how do make all those nice little tarts, and mouse cakes...and he would custom make me strawberry shortcake with real whip cream, and real strawberries not that junk jam...and best of all, he somehow managed to make incredibly moist spongy styled not the hard and stale cakey kind, of black and white cookies, and fresh from the oven, if you got 6 or more, were a special treat to take to someone when traveling...BUT......I have noticed over the last year or so, that the quality plummeted and the freshness quite a bit...and the owners were not tending the counter anymore, and the elderly lady that was working there was rude and completely inept at taking an order......SO---being the first to mention them on Chowhound I also kind of feel a responsibility to issue a serious downhill alert where they are concerned and in a post somewhere this year, I think I mentioned this..so, I wouldn't back there, unless you can tell me that something has significantly improved over the last year. Also, I never cared for their cookies, never fresh, nor very good--Lety's in Jackson Heights has much better cookies.........but I'll give them another shot if things have gotten better.......since they're right across the street from the DB WIne Bar which I thought was pretty okay.

                                            1. re: janie

                                              I've never seen anyone there behind the counter that I would call "elderly," so I don't know who you mean. The women I've had help me are always very nice and perfectly competent (?!?). The woman I see most often also makes a great cappuccino (she's in her 40s max).

                                              I can't tell you that "something has significantly improved over the last year" since I've been going for about three years and I've never noticed any drop or improvement in quality. Based on what you say about the cookies, I'm going to guess that we just have different taste. So you shouldn't feel any need to go back based on me.

                                              As for food around there, Mazzara's is great for pizza by the slice. They do a good regular slice and Sicilian slice, and I love the fresh mozz slice which has a sweeter sauce with onions. Far, far better than any of the places on Austin or Queens Boulevard near the shopping for slices. (That is, not necessarily better than Nick's. It's actually not better or worse than Nick's to me - they're completely different.)