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Who makes the best baguette?

  • Monica Oct 18, 2010 06:45 AM
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Bad food disappoints me but nothing disappoints me more than a basket of bad bread when dinding out.
I don't mind a poor quality ham but I don't forgive bad bread.
I walk into a deli for lunch and if their breads don't look good, I walk right out.
It's so darn hard to find good bread even in NYC.

I used to love Amy's baguette but on my recent trip to Amy's, I was disappointed that their baguette wasn't as good as they used to be. What a 'tragic'.
Balthazar is good but even they seem to have bad bread days. Their crust is a bit too thin and inside needs to be chewier.
So who makes the best baguette these days???

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  1. Tom Cat.

    8 Replies
    1. re: RCC

      I actually like Tom cat too but they don't have a retail store and finding a deli that uses Tom Cat bread is very hard too,

      1. re: Monica

        I've seen Tom Cat for sale at St Marks Market on St Marks between 2nd and 3rd.

        1. re: kathryn

          Very interesting. Thanks for the tip!

          1. re: Monica

            It's also sold at Patrick Murphy Market on Madison at 92nd.

            Patrick Murphy Market
            1307 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10128

            1. re: MMRuth

              And at Gourmet Garage!

        2. re: Monica

          Murray's Cheese shops (Bleecker and GC Market) carries Tom Cat.

          Food Emporium at 2nd Ave and 52nd Street, near where I live, also carries them - 2 kinds, the full-size and the half size.

          Murray's Cheese
          254 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

          1. re: RCC

            Wow, Great, Thanks. I work not too far from this supermarket. I can simply go during lunch and pick them up.

            Murray's cheese shop in GC market sells bread? wow, that's a great news too. THis must be a new thing.

          2. re: Monica

            food emporium (at least the one on Brdwy and W68th) sells tom cat mini and regular baguettes. they are in racks near the entrance. i love tom cat,

        3. I have not been successful in finding a good baguette, though I keep trying.

          The problem is, I think, that they are not fresh enough when sold. Baguettes have a shelf life of only a few hours, as the boulangeries in France know, so we are perpetually buying stale specimens here in New York.

          My compromise for good bread is buying the second batch of chiabatta at Sullivan Street Bakery (which typically comes out of the oven between noon and one in the afternoon.

          Sullivan Street Bakery
          533 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036

          2 Replies
          1. re: Nancy S.

            Have you tried Pain d'Avignon in the Essex St Market? I like them a lot but I'm not an expert so I'm curious what you think of theirs.

            1. re: kathryn

              I've not been to the shop in the Essex Street Market. I've only had it at restaurants (I think EMP uses it) and from the Corrado near my apartment. I think it could be good in theory, but the specimens I have had have not been impeccably fresh. My one serious complaint about EMP is that their bread is too hard, and somewhat stale. I am curious, however, if the bread at the new Payard shop is good.

              Essex Street Market
              120 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

          2. Almondine Bakery in Dumbo.

            85 Water Street
            Brooklyn, NY 11201
            Tel: 718-797-5026

            Very similar to the ones I've had in France.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Pedr0

              Thanks for the suggestion. It looks like they have two shops in Brooklyn. Do you know which location actually makes the bread?

              1. re: Monica

                I've only been to the one in Dumbo but it looked like they were making the loaves there. Great croissants as well.

            2. Le Pain Quotidien makes a very decent baguette, imo, and is readily available at the myriad of LPQ locations scattered about town. It is large and anything unused freezes well. I believe they bake them throughout the day, thereby reducing chances to get something less than fresh.

              1. Petrossian.
                Almondine is probably up there, also.
                You could try FPB, Francois Payard's new location. Not the same as the old one, sigh, though that is more about the pastries.

                Disagree about the freshness of quality baguettes. If you know how to heat them, They are not so far away from fresh out of the oven. Shelf life varies but if it is same day, I challenge most to tell the difference.

                Also, Sullivan St's stirato is an approximation just to add a bit more choice.
                Search the boards, the info is mostly repeated. Also, all of the addresses are readily available with a 2s search instead of 20 more posts. Good luck.

                182 W 58th St, New York, NY 10019

                2 Replies
                1. re: dietndesire

                  I wish I didn't feel as particular as I do about the "freshness" issue. For me, even with proper heating of the bread (in, trust me, optimal conditions), I am not satisfied. But then again, perhaps I am spoiled by the baguettes in Paris (where I rent an apartment several weeks a year and have eaten baguettes from many top-rated boulangeries).

                  1. re: Nancy S.

                    Perhaps you can tell the difference, perhaps you cannot. Baguettes in Paris are tons better, especially across the spectrum rather than choosing half a handful as you must do in NYC. Notice, in all the city the total number of choices singled out. That is the sad state of baking affairs.
                    I would say that your issue is more about the bread quality, itself, rather than the 'right out of the oven' point.

                2. Bouchon Bakery in the Time Warner Center. Also the rustic baguette at Silver Moon Bakery.

                  Bouchon Bakery
                  10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

                  Silver Moon Bakery
                  2740 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

                  1. Tom Cat can be very very good but tom cat is extremely inconsistent. In this shop near where I live the Tom Cat baguettes from the same patch would be so wildly different one from another. Some are clearly too dark, some clearly too light, some are skinny, some wide, some perfect, It's like they are trying to cater to all different tastes!! I wonder if this store is getting the student efforts! It surely makes my daily baguette picking fun but not if you are short on time. I have also noticed that weather plays an important factor, more so for some bakeries. In general it seems the better bread days are ones with an overcast. They are more flavorful and tender inside while the crust seperation is also more defined which I think is better. Speaking of bread, Sullivan Street Bakery's Filone is doing better now, more like the original style. For a number of years the quality of the Filone went way way down hill. First thing I noticed was the crust became lighter and lighter and texture of the bread inside was less tender and the holes were uniformly small while the taste was almost unpleasant. As a huge fan of the original Filone this change in quality made me very very sad. But the good news is recently the Filone is getting better again, still somewhat inconsistent but clearly something is happening. The curst is darker, with more defined seperation. I hate bread that has a huge transition area between the crust and the inside, the transition area is not crusty enough to be crust, and yet chewy in a very unpleasant way, sort of like stale bread. Inside it is also showing air bubbles of various sizes, a very good sign. If anything, the bubbles are a little out of control at times, causing distortions to the structure of the bread both inside and the overall form. But still, this is a big improvement over the filone they were baking a while back. Hopefully the quality will continue to improve. I want my original filone back. In my opinion the original filone was the absolute best bread!

                    Sullivan Street Bakery
                    533 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: mimolette

                      haha, i don't care about the sizes and shapes as long as they have the same taste and texture.
                      So Filone is a brand that Sullivan street bakery carries?
                      anyway, it's good to know that I have more than a few promising places to check out...thank God i am in NYC.

                      1. re: Monica

                        Filone is a huge bread with a very dark crust they sell. I remember carrying two of those fresh out of the oven on the NJ transit bus during rush hour years ago when I first discovered it. One for my friend, one for myself, it was not too easy.

                        1. re: mimolette

                          I learn something new everyday. Thanks.

                          I usually buy different types of breads and carry them back to NJ too....in bus...because breads are bulky, it's not always so easy to carry them...haha

                          1. re: Monica

                            The Fairway Market in Fort Lee ( not associated with the Fairway in Manhattan ) carries several breads from Sullivan Street Bakery as well as Balthazar and Tom Cat.

                            Sullivan Street Bakery
                            533 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036

                            1. re: mimolette

                              Excellent! yes, i know where that is...! Thanks..I am going to check them out this weekend.

                    2. You can tell a good baguette by squeezing it between your fingers - as the french do - and chewy is not acceptable ! the crust should be...crusty...and there shouldn't be too much dough..so I usually prefer to buy "ciabatta" as a replacement -
                      froggy me !