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Bien Cuit -- new French bakery on Smith St

lambretta76 Jul 26, 2011 12:02 PM

I have no idea how I missed this, either from walking by this space nearly daily or on any of the food blogs (it's been covered by the Times and Voice, for starters, both of which I've overlooked.)

Anyways, it seems a French bakery has opened up on the Atlantic Ave. side of Smith St, and if the desserts we had are any indication of what to expect, this place is going to be golden. Think Almondine quality, but more "experimental". I had a sweet muenster and raspberry danish that was quite possibly one of the best danishes I've had -- not too sweet, not too buttery, not too heavy, but still quite sweet, buttery, and heavy. (If that makes sense.) My wife's almond and pear danish nearly as good, although the flavors could have been a little more pronounced. We also had a fresh juice (white peach) spritzer which was perfect on this sunny day.

Amazing-looking fresh bread (slightly pricey, but they sell half loaves) and according to the person working the front counter everything is coming in from upstate or in some cases closer. They also have some sweet and savory tarts, a few sandwiches, and a full coffee bar. This side of the neighborhood has really needed a bakery and it looks like this one is gonna be brilliant.

Update: Here's the menu http://web.biencuit.com/menu/

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Bien Cuit
120 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

  1. s
    seb Jul 26, 2011 07:29 PM

    I've been twice now and agree that it is very good, but overpriced. So much so, that it won't be a regular stop for me. I really wanted it to be the kind of place I stop in for my weekly loaf of bread, but the prices are prohibitive. As for quality, I also had the muenster & raspberry danish and on another visit a cherry hazelnut pastry (brioche?), both of which were very good, but I disagree that they were the best I'd ever had, and again, I expected spectacular for the price. I also tried the baguette, which was good, but I didn't think was better than my husband's no-knead bread. (By way of comparison, I think Baked has the best baked goods I've ever had. Not cheap, but very worth it.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: seb
      lambretta76 Jul 27, 2011 05:43 AM

      seb -- I think I've only had brownies from Baked, which I rather adore -- I'll have to explore the other options.

      In my experience, the gold standard for danishes has been Emmerys in Copenhagen (with the Japanese chain Andersen coming in a close second), but I feel that those at Bien Cuit compared very favorably. (I suspect that they're more of a Gallic take on the traditional wienerbrod -- not to mention the unconventional fillings -- and don't know if these pale in comparison to the French versions one would find in a Parisian bakery.) Regardless, I fear for my waistband.

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      Bien Cuit
      120 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

    2. Miss Needle Jul 26, 2011 09:06 PM

      Thanks for the post. Some of the stuff looks pretty interesting.

      1. c
        cmaffucc Aug 9, 2011 08:04 AM

        Early in the morning, the croissants ($3) here are near perfect, and the bakery prepares a few very tasty lunch options ($8 coppa sandwich: i'm looking at you). We've had the rye & sunflower loaf, which lasted us through three dinners and one lunch without going stale. My husband described it well when he said "there's a lot going on here." It was crusty and crunchy on the outside, fluffy and a little chewy inside, with a lot of depth of flavor. After a little soul-searching, I've decided that I can afford this place about once, maybe twice per week. Food is delicious, but I agree with other posters that prices are a too high.

        1. Miss Needle Aug 15, 2011 02:57 PM

          Lambretta, thanks for bringing this to my attention. Tried a few things from the bakery. The almond cookie was quite delicious. Very delicate and not very sweet. I didn't get to try the chocolate chip shortbread because DH finished it. Guess he really enjoyed it because he forgot to offer me a taste. The orange chocolate brioche was OK, but I thought the chocolate flavor was too muted for my taste. The white cherry rose tart was good, but I think I would have preferred a bit more cream to fruit ratio. DH said the bacon brie croissant was delicious (didn't taste that either).

          Overall, quite promising. Prices are a bit dear but quality is good. The woman behind the counter was also quite lovely. Looking forward to trying a few more things in the future.

          And I think comparing this bakery to Baked is like comparing apples to oranges. They're both good, but they carry different types of goods.

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          Baked
          359 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

          Bien Cuit
          120 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

          1. m
            mig_nyc Nov 8, 2011 05:31 PM

            finally stopped in. the smallest-size tart there is at least 7 dollars - mine was 9. a pinenut caramel tart.

            it was fine, but bitter.

            i was astounded to be served a cold, hard pastry plunked on a plate for NINE dollars, more than a plated dessert at a restaurant, where a chef ensures the dish is the right temperature, attractively presented, not stale, etc.

            3 Replies
            1. re: mig_nyc
              d
              Daniel76 Jan 3, 2012 10:26 AM

              what a wonderful place this is. It's truly special. We went there over break and had such a wonderful time. When I think about the bakery scene in NYC it's pretty lame. I remember going to San Fran and just being taken back by how much better their offerings are. Look at a place like Tartine out there, if placed in NYC it would have zero competition.. What do we have? City Bakery? Bouley Bakery? Sure there is Grand Daisy or Sullivan but, they are limited in their offerings and they are not like places you are going to hang out in..

              Enter Bien Cuit, the best damn Croissants in NYC.. You can't get a decent croissant out here. I don't understand the shape that NYC has adopted.. They are not like the classic croissants, they look more like these rounded calzone pastries or something.. The croissants at Bien Cuit as amazing.. They are crispy and flaky on the outside and the almond filling is so delicious..But my favorite part is how they allow the almond on the outside to brown up to a perfect crunch..

              In addition to the Almond Croissant we had a few other pastries and then ordered a bunch to go.. As well as their Pan Pugliese. Pan Pugliese is one of my favorite breads and this is by far my favorite version in NYC. I sliced them long and grilled them on my kitchen grill.. Served with vitello tonnato, served with carmalized onion and blue cheese, served with ricotta and prosciutto on a couple of different occasions.. Each person that tried it could not get over the bread.. It is just so good.

              We last night, I made a broccoli soup and served the soup over a toasted bruschetta and used the last of the bread for croutons on a salad.. I was sad to see it go..

              Anyway, yeh, Bien Cuit, so great.

              -----
              Bien Cuit
              120 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

              1. re: Daniel76
                Peter Cuce Jan 3, 2012 09:17 PM

                Honestly I don't find the croissants at Tartine in San Francisco to be that great. Most of their stuff looks better than it tastes, or at least it did the last time I was there. I think there are lots of great bakeries in NYC these days. I think you generally need to separate the pastry type bakery from the bread bakery. Sometimes there's crossover but not always.

                I haven't been to Bien Cuit yet, and I'm looking forward to it.

                1. re: Daniel76
                  c
                  cazique Jan 4, 2012 07:25 AM

                  You couldn't have posted this reminder _before_ I went on my new years diet? :D

              2. w
                wew Jan 4, 2012 04:38 PM

                I tried four pastries none which I liked. The trebirke, an almond paste item was dull and the chocolate pistachio tart had strangely clashing flavors with little of interest. I will go back to try the breads and the croissant.

                1. k
                  kathryn Jan 18, 2012 01:53 AM

                  Friends brought croissants from Bien Cuit to a party and I was disappointed. Too bready. Needed more butter and at least some "shatter." The texture was not flaky at all.

                  I think Mille-Feuille or Ceci-Cela in Manhattan are better (haven't tried Dominique Ansel's or had Payard's in a while). I'm comparing the plain croissants in this case, not chocolate or almond, to be clear.

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                  Bien Cuit
                  120 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: kathryn
                    w
                    wew Jan 21, 2012 01:10 PM

                    I went back last week and tried the chocolate croissant which I also felt to be shatter less, bready, and bland.
                    To judge from the pastries this seems to be another of the not ready to open bakeries that receive hard to understand praise the NYC area.

                  2. b
                    BGRose Jan 18, 2012 08:07 AM

                    It's a very stylish, rarefied bakery, with a definite sense of serious dedication. I adore their chocolate croissants. Agree with the criticism of their plain croissants (I still feel Almondine is the city's best French bakery for croissants and baguettes).
                    Their breads are extremely crusty, to the point that I sometimes feel that I'm in danger of cracking a tooth. The campagne is delicious (I ate almost a quarter of a loaf within 10 minutes). The baguette suffers from a.) crustiness b.) a less than perfect interior chewiness.
                    Nevertheless, it's a welcome addition to Smith Street.

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                    Almondine
                    85 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                    Bien Cuit
                    120 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                    1. c
                      chocolatefancy Jan 21, 2012 08:32 AM

                      I enjoyed all the baked goods I've tried there --but the coffee needs help. I'm sorry--it tasted like burnt water with some coffee flavoring.So disappointing! For me, the coffee is just as important as the food.

                      1. t
                        twan55 Jan 22, 2012 09:41 PM

                        This place is astoundingly not good.

                        i am shocked at the positive press it's gotten.

                        I threw out the croissant I bought there, which was like a paperweight.

                        Awful.

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                        Bien Cuit
                        120 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: twan55
                          d
                          Daniel76 Jan 23, 2012 07:01 AM

                          That is too bad.. I stopped in Sunday morning at around 830 in the morning.. I picked out a french baguette, a pan pugliese, and some other loaf.. They were still hot.. I made bruschetta with the pugliese.. I grilled the bread, made a vitello tonnato and served it.. It was unbelievable.. I used the bread for this lardo dip I made, a mussel and chickpea bruschetta, and for a liverwurst spread. Eveybody was talking about the bread

                          In addition to the breads for dinner that night, I also bought an Almond Croissant and some Hazelnut Brioche.. These two things were outstanding. I have never had their plain croissant but, their Almond Croissants are just beyond. Sorry you had a bad experience. It must be a difference of opinion as I am so delighted about everything I have gotten there.

                          1. re: Daniel76
                            jen kalb Jan 23, 2012 07:06 AM

                            Have you tried the croissants (almont and plain) at Almondine. I thought they were quite good.

                            -----
                            Almondine
                            85 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                            Almondine
                            442 9th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215

                            1. re: jen kalb
                              d
                              Daniel76 Jan 23, 2012 07:10 AM

                              No I haven't but, for the interest of research, I will have to go this Saturday..

                              1. re: Daniel76
                                lambretta76 Jan 23, 2012 09:11 AM

                                The maple yam croissant at Bien Cuit is amazing -- unorthodox, but amazing. Other than that, I pretty much just go there for the pan Pugliese, which is probably my favorite bread in all of NYC. (As Daniel76 mentioned, it's incredibly versatile -- grill it, dip it, use it for sandwiches, make croutons.)

                                While I was initially enamored with the croissants in general, the fact that I haven't had one (other than the maple yam variety) in months probably speaks volumes -- they're good, perhaps very good, but not exceptional. The pan Pugliese, on the other hand, is beyond exceptional.

                                -----
                                Bien Cuit
                                120 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                              2. re: jen kalb
                                d
                                Daniel76 Jan 28, 2012 08:46 PM

                                Thank you for the recommendation.. Went to Almondine this morning. It was a very comfortable spot. There are two locations, we went to the one in Park Slope.

                                We were one of two couples in the place. it has a very chill vibe. perfect for a saturday morning. They have this little mock living room set up, it looks like something out of shabby chic showroom.

                                I had 14 dollars on me and did not feel like walking to an atm. We purchased two black coffees, an almond croissant, and an apricot flan sitting in a quiche crust.

                                Everything was enjoyable. The almond croissant was not very almondy, no whole almonds on the outside. not marzipan filling, it was ground almonds. Not very crunch but, damp (trying to say damp but, in a more appetizing way) The apricot flan had the same size dimensions as say a Chicago Pizza. The crust was not really salted, was dense, felt like it could have been cooked a little longer. it did not break when i went at it with the fork. We ended up eating the egg custard, soup from the crust, leaving the pie shell.

                                What we ordered came out to 9:95 so, I had still had that 4 bucks burning a hole in my pocket.. I went back up and grabbed a chocolate eclair, 4 dollars on the nose. This was my favorite off the choices. chocolate pudding inside slight on the sweet side. The eclair had the texture of being put in the fridge.

                                5 cents to throw around town.

                                In summation, it's a really chill, cute little spot. it was quiet, comfortable, people were really nice. I looked around and they have a huge production capability. They must supply stores in the area. Cup of coffee was nice, girl behind the counter was very lovely.

                                They had three quiche sitting out on the counter.. They looked great and was happy they did not have them put in a fridge.

                                Thank you for the recommendation.

                                -----
                                Almondine
                                442 9th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215

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