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Best French Baguettes?

Spends Rent on Food Jul 7, 2008 07:59 AM

I've struck out lately in my attempts to get a good french baguettein Manhattan. I know Amy's is a pretty good bet, but I wanted to know where to find the best (most authentic) in the city, and also any really good places in Union Sq, Gramercy/ Murray Hill area. (no sourdough please...)

Thanks in advance...

  1. p
    Puffin3 Oct 2, 2012 07:20 AM

    You are never going to get a 'real' bag. except in France. The flour/water/salt/yeast is different. The soil the wheat grows in can be found no where but in France. The air the yeast cells need is different. I know a French baker........who grew up baking 'bag' in France. He tried to make 'real' 'bag. in Canada and even had the 'real' crappy French flour imported etc etc into Canada. He tried for a couple of years and yes he made truly wonderful 'bag' which sold out in half an hour every day but he told me he was never able to make 'real' bag. like he could in France. I used to live in France and I've never tasted any bread made in Canada which compares to the 'real thing'. That goes for virtually every food found around the world. You'll never taste 'Pho' as good as you can in Vietnam in San Francisco. IMO

    1. m
      mahler5 Oct 4, 2009 03:12 PM

      None of the above. Try the rustic baguette at Silver Moon Bakery on Broadway and 105th.

      1. c
        CatB Oct 4, 2009 11:10 AM

        Sahadi's sells the best baguette I've had in the city but they're in Brooklyn. Try the Ace Bakery baguettes that are sold in Food Emporium, Union Square. Ace Bakery hails from Toronto and Food Emporium cook them every morning!

        1. r
          rb920 Sep 4, 2008 04:11 PM

          No one has mentioned Pain D'Avignon. It is one of the best! Poilane bread is so overrated. Even when in PAris I go to Eric Kaiser....so delicioso and the varieties are mind boggling. But back to Pain D'Avignon they do a lovely crusty baguette, a ficelle which is entirely crust and a cranberry walnut loaf which is gorgeous. I buy my bread at Blue Apron those guys have a great palate and really know what they stock. BTW, they have Bagel Hole bagels on the weekend which are they only true NY bagels left. They are not the blown up tasteless doughy slop that passes for bagels these days.

          1. m
            MeLikeToEat Aug 3, 2008 11:04 AM

            Has anyone tried the baguettes at Blue Ribbon Bakery Market on Bedford?

            3 Replies
            1. re: MeLikeToEat
              t
              tsiblis Aug 4, 2008 07:20 AM

              I met the owner of Gourmet Garage and it wasn't Eli. I can't believe Eli would allow them to sell a baguette for under $2 to support my suspicion he's not a major owner if he has any participation at all.

              1. re: tsiblis
                MMRuth Aug 4, 2008 07:22 AM

                Yes - I was wrong about that. Apparently Eli Zabar and the owners of Gourmet Garage have some ownership in common in The Vinegar Factory.

              2. re: MeLikeToEat
                MMRuth Aug 8, 2008 08:00 AM

                I've not tried their baguette but will try to remember to stop in next time I'm in the area - the one loaf that I've had from there - don't remember what it was, was an excellent loaf of bread.

              3. w
                whenslydale Aug 1, 2008 02:35 PM

                Bouchon (sp?) in the Time Warner Complex Colombus Circle,
                has the best best french bread I have had in NYC in my life.

                try it!

                12 Replies
                1. re: whenslydale
                  JoanN Aug 3, 2008 07:32 AM

                  I tried the Bouchon Bakery baguette yesterday and didn't like it as much as many of the others mentioned above (Pain Quotidien, Tom Cat, Balthazaar, Sullivan Street). Of course, so much depends on how fresh it is, but I would have thought that on Saturday morning it would have been quite fresh. First of all, the baguette is quite small; more sandwich sized than the long loaf I'd expected. And the crust was thick and hard, without the shatter factor one finds in a baguette in Paris. The flavor was okay, and I did like that it was quite chewy, but all in all I'll be passing on Bouchon in the future. Will need to try Gourmet Garage, but their stores are a distance from my regular shopping loops so it probably won't be any time soon.

                  1. re: JoanN
                    MMRuth Aug 3, 2008 10:15 AM

                    I would guess that the Gourmet Garage ones are made by Eli's - at one point, I think Zabar's sold Eli's breads - don't know if they still do.

                    1. re: MMRuth
                      c
                      City Kid Aug 3, 2008 03:20 PM

                      Gourmet Garage baguettes are both their own label (made where I'm not sure) and I believe I have also seen them putting out some unalabeled ones from Tom Cat bags. Not sure if there is an Eli's connection. Their breads are generally very good, but to my mind not on a par with Pain Quotidien's "baguette ancien." A subjective analysis, of course!

                      1. re: City Kid
                        MMRuth Aug 3, 2008 03:38 PM

                        Eli Zabar owns Gourmet Garage, which is why I thought the breads would be from Eli's.

                        1. re: MMRuth
                          c
                          City Kid Aug 3, 2008 04:56 PM

                          I know that Gourmet Garage was a part owner with Eli of Vinegar Factory, but I never heard Eli was the owner of Gourmet Garage.

                          1. re: City Kid
                            MMRuth Aug 3, 2008 05:17 PM

                            I believe so - I'll check though!

                            Edit - looks like you are right:

                            http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage...

                            I'd always thought it was owned by Eli Zabar. My mistake.

                            1. re: MMRuth
                              s
                              sugartoof Aug 3, 2008 08:08 PM

                              Yeah the breads at Gourmet Garage are a bit different then Eli's. I'd say they're closer to the Garden of Eden "house" brand, and it's darn good. Not the best you're ever going to get, but it fits the bill.

                              1. re: sugartoof
                                MMRuth Aug 8, 2008 07:57 AM

                                I tried the Gourmet Garage one last night - had a nice crispy-ish exterior, but was pretty bland and uninteresting inside.

                                1. re: MMRuth
                                  s
                                  sugartoof Aug 9, 2008 02:16 AM

                                  Yeah they're good for the crust. A little one note inside but you can luck out and get a good batch.

                  2. re: whenslydale
                    r
                    Renguin Aug 8, 2008 11:18 AM

                    I second Bouchon, while I think most of the other postings on here are fine as well. What I like most about bouchon aside from the textures which are a prerequisite for any baguette is the flavor. they must use a pound of butter in these things b/c it really comes out in the bread. I could just eat a whole plain loaf w/o even realizing it.

                    1. re: Renguin
                      JoanN Aug 8, 2008 11:40 AM

                      Butter? Baguette? I think not. Perhaps you're thinking of their brioche?

                      1. re: JoanN
                        r
                        Renguin Aug 8, 2008 07:21 PM

                        oh no, i mean the baguette. it has a subtle buttery quality to it - i'm not crazy other people have agreed with me w/o me bringing it up first.

                  3. t
                    tsiblis Aug 1, 2008 09:27 AM

                    I've tried many and find those at Gourmet Garage the best - tastiest, freshest, our go-to place for baguettes. Please try one and do yourself a favor.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: tsiblis
                      LNG212 Aug 1, 2008 12:14 PM

                      I like Gourmet Garage's baguette too, in a pinch (and even the whole wheat one is decent); but I much prefer the Balthazar baguette (which I buy at Fairway).

                    2. n
                      nokitsch Aug 1, 2008 08:54 AM

                      Citarella's own baguettes are quite good.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: nokitsch
                        MMRuth Aug 1, 2008 08:55 AM

                        I only see their sour dough baguettes - do they have a non-sour dough version?

                        1. re: nokitsch
                          JoanN Aug 1, 2008 12:30 PM

                          Citarella's baguettes, so they've told me at the UWS store, are from the Tom Cat bakery. I don't think they do any of their own baking.

                          1. re: JoanN
                            MMRuth Aug 3, 2008 07:06 AM

                            Yes, they told me that on the UES one yesterday as well - and that they do have both sour dough and regular Tom Cat baguettes, as well as the Balthazar ones.

                        2. Spends Rent on Food Aug 1, 2008 06:24 AM

                          Since this thread has been ressurected, I thought it would be worth updating everyone on my "research" since my original post.

                          Garden of Eden has become my go-to place for french baguettes since they have Balthazar, Amy's Bread, and Tom Cat all available (although I've seen less and less of Tom Cat over the past few weeks... not sure why.) Of the ones available at G.O.E. I'd rate them in this order: 1. Balthazar, 2. Amys, 3. Tomcat.

                          I've tried Trader Joes and Whole foods and wouldn't want to include them on a list of tops.

                          My next stop (maybe even today?) is try out Pan Quotidienne.

                          Please do let me know of which Greenmarket breadmakers are good, the main bread guy (don't know the name of his outfit) only sells sourdough baguettes - which, to me, is like drinking vinegar.

                          I'll need to travel further afield to try Silver Moon and Sullivan bakeries. Thanks for sharing all this great info.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Spends Rent on Food
                            Miss Needle Aug 1, 2008 08:59 AM

                            I also agree with your assessment of Balthazar -- it's up there. I've only had Tom Cat at restaurants but haven't purchased their stuff from the stores. I don't seem to be he big Amy's fan that everybody else is. I also do like Pain Quotidien and Sullivan as well. And totally concur that Whole Foods should not be on the list (haven't tried Trader Joes but probably won't after your post). It's a step above a regular supermarket baguette.

                            1. re: Spends Rent on Food
                              alkonost Oct 2, 2012 05:54 AM

                              There is a bread vendor at the Union Square farmer's market on Mondays that I really like, I'm not sure what their company name is but the baguettes are very good- not quite as good as Amy's, but pretty close- far better than anything sold locally and superior to the other artisan bread offerings at the market.

                              The baguettes are very crispy and have a balanced crust-to-bread ratio- not too much crust, not too much bread. Mind you, the vendor does sell sourdough, it's a VERY mild one that is quite nice and if you tried it blind you probably wouldn't think it was sourdough at all. I do a weekly bread run to this bread stand because unless I make the trip out to Chelsea market to go to Amy's I just can't find better.

                              Whole Foods and the East Village Cheese shop carries Balthazar baguettes but they're always stale (frankly I like my bread vendors baguette better than Balthazar). I've tried Bread Alone and Our Daily bread but I don't like any of those.

                              The bread stand sells lunch breads with various fresh vegetable toppings & cheese baked on top- they're not bad but you have to crisp them up in the oven since they're cold by the time they're delivered to market (I love the eggplant, tomato and hummus ones).

                              I'm attaching a couple of pictures of this bread vendor I like since I don't recall the name of the company and it's a very humble and unassuming stand that is easy to miss. She's on the west side of the market, and if my memory serves me correctly the woman's name is Barbara.

                               
                               
                              1. re: alkonost
                                n
                                Nancy S. Oct 2, 2012 07:01 AM

                                That looks like Buon Pane Bakery -- the owner has a shop in New Jersey. At the market, it's between 15th and 16th Streets, on the west side of the market.

                                1. re: Nancy S.
                                  alkonost Oct 2, 2012 11:25 AM

                                  Thanks Nancy! "Buon Pane" rings a bell. I just polished off a big bacon & tomato sandwich made from thick slabs of their ciabatta bread loaf. I can't go back to supermarket bread since I'm so darn spoiled!

                            2. s
                              sugartoof Jul 31, 2008 05:56 PM

                              Vintage wine shop in Soho was carrying a good one.
                              Fairway are decent, depending on which one you grab.
                              Balthazar's, ceci celi, and sullivan are okay, but all have gone downhill.
                              Garden of Eden usually has a good selection of passable breads.
                              Dean and Deluca has a well curated selection from various bakeries. Pricey though.
                              Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and a couple vendors at the green market at good Union Sqr. area options, plus a Pan Quotidienne nearby.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: sugartoof
                                MMRuth Aug 1, 2008 05:32 AM

                                Are there any particular vendors at the farmer's market that you like? Aside from cider donuts, I've been very disappointed with any muffins, etc. that I've picked up to nibble on while shopping, and so haven't tried any breads yet. Thanks.

                                1. re: MMRuth
                                  erica Aug 1, 2008 07:22 AM

                                  Ruth: I have had back luck with farmer's market baked goods. BUT, on Fridays in Union Square, Bobolink Dairy sells ciabatta-type breads with intersting ingredients, including one with duck fat and garlic. I know, not baguettes, but on my short list of things to try...

                                  1. re: erica
                                    MMRuth Aug 1, 2008 09:15 AM

                                    Gosh - I might have to check out that duck fat one if my husband gets out of work early enough today. Thanks!

                                  2. re: MMRuth
                                    s
                                    sugartoof Aug 1, 2008 02:01 PM

                                    I liked the baked offering from the vendor that has cookies and scones on a folding table, and then a smaller case for the breads. They might not actually have baguettes now that I think about it, but the rest is good stuff. It's run by a woman with very short dark hair, and a man who looks to be Indonesian if I had to take a wild guess.

                                    There is also a vendor who sells breads on a wire rack but I've only seen them once, recently. Stay away from the "healthy" breadmakers, but there's some really good bread out there. Also, the baguettes are a little safer in general then some of the specialty breads.

                                    Another source I like for baguettes is the 3rd Avenue Cheese Shop. They carry Balthazar, and then behind the counter there's more selection (not sure where from, not all looks Balthazar style)

                                    1. re: MMRuth
                                      ChefJune Aug 4, 2008 07:32 AM

                                      <Are there any particular vendors at the farmer's market that you like?>

                                      On Wednesdays and Saturday,s Hawthorn Valley Farms' breads are excellent, including the baguette. Love the cheese stick for a walking lunch.

                                  3. n
                                    Nywoman Jul 31, 2008 04:34 PM

                                    Sullivan Bakery has a wonderful baguette

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Nywoman
                                      s
                                      stephaniec25 Jul 31, 2008 06:23 PM

                                      Definitely Sullivan St Bakery in Hell's Kitchen. Sooo good!

                                    2. erica Jul 7, 2008 02:52 PM

                                      Pan Quotidienne?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: erica
                                        c
                                        City Kid Aug 1, 2008 06:24 AM

                                        Second Le Pain Quotidien, specifically their baguette ancienne! More crust than fluffy bread -- the way I like it.

                                      2. o
                                        offthebeatenpath1 Jul 7, 2008 01:39 PM

                                        I am not sure if they still do it, but Fairway used to get bread flown in from Poilane every Thursday. Usually the big round loaves. Can't get more authentic than that.

                                        1. r
                                          RCC Jul 7, 2008 12:00 PM

                                          Balthazar baguettes are quite good. Not great, but good enough.

                                          1. MMRuth Jul 7, 2008 08:39 AM

                                            There are some good threads in this search, but hopefully others have some updates. I still like the Tom Cat one.

                                            http://www.chow.com/search?search%5Bq...

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: MMRuth
                                              r
                                              ringside71 Jul 7, 2008 11:57 AM

                                              ooh. dislike Tom Cat intensely! Find it hard without much insides at all. We're french and pretty picky about baguettes and bread. For what it's worth, we love Silver Moon on 105/UWS (the rustic baguette is better than the plain one) and Balthazar.

                                              1. re: ringside71
                                                MMRuth Jul 7, 2008 12:02 PM

                                                I do like the Balthazar one as well. My experience with the Tom Cat ones has been different - nice and crusty, with enough inside. I do think it's a bit wider than a traditional baguette though. I'll have to try Silver Moon sometimes. Where do you buy the Tom Cat ones, by the way?

                                              2. re: MMRuth
                                                p
                                                pokechop Oct 1, 2012 12:11 PM

                                                TomKat® blows.

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