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French patisserie shops

Maybe it's me but every time I go to popular French sweet shops in NYC, I am disappointed. Payard, Dominic Ansel...Bouchon all dispappointed me...(espcially Bouchon) Is there a place in NYC that sells authentic and delicious French desserts? Why don't we have one? Is it the milk? Is it the flour? or simply because chefs don't try hard enough because NYkers don't really demand tasty desserts?

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  1. I agree with you 1000 times!

    >espcially Bouchon

    >because NYkers don't really demand tasty desserts?
    IMHO, New Yorkers still demand high quality desserts.
    It's just that they seem to prefer simple style desserts at moderate prices (Cronut will be a perfect example). Nothing like sophisticaed French desserts at higher costs.

    For a middle aged Asian 'guy' that I am, it may sound unusual but I crave desserts, especially French desserts, and I have been searching far and wide but couldn't find any place in New York that is comparable to Pierre Herme.

    The only place that was satisfactory to me was Brasserie Pushkin. It was a Russian restaurant whose savory dishes were sub par, but its French pastries were phenomenal. They were exactly the same as those at Café Pushkin inside Printemps department store in Paris. Sadly, Brasserie Pushkin is now closed and it has been changed to Betony.

    Incidentally, I used to love Per Se's desserts but they have become dull and boring these days.

    I dined at Daniel a few days ago and the desserts by new pastry chef Ghaya Oliveira (from Boulud Sud) were truly mind-blowing! They were grrrrr~~eat! I plan to go to Daniel's bar lounge to try all of her desserts sooner than later! LOL

    6 Replies
      1. re: kosmose7

        aww...you should have asked the people at Brasserie Pushkin if they knew where their pastry chef was going...perhaps he/she is working in another restaurant in NYC?

        1. re: Monica

          It seems the pastries at Brasserie Pushkin were made based on the recipes by French pastry chef Emmanuel Ryon, who resides in Moscow and Paris. So we probably won't be able to have them in New York again, unless Maison Dellos (owner company of the former Brasserie Pushkin and the present Betony, as well as Manon) decides to bring them back...


          1. re: kosmose7

            LOL, i was tempted to click on 'Order a cake'.

      2. Have you tried Laduree; I adore their macarons.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ellenost

          I haven't tried the location in NY but I did try them in Paris and another time in Monaco. They were a bit too sweet for me. I actually prefer la maison du macaron shop in ny.
          anyway, i wasn't really refering to macarons..i am talking about complicated authentic desserts with lots of good butter and lots of cream...

          1. re: Monica

            N'existe pas en NYC. Plenty of other non-French delicious desserts tho.

          1. re: Motosport

            What do you like at Ceci Cela? I revisited a few times recently, because years ago I liked some of their stuff, but I feel they have lost their way.

            1. re: Peter Cuce

              I especially like their croissants, both plain and almond. We find the pastries to be excellent.
              They have grown and are supplying several independent coffee shops. This might be a distraction but we still love the place. I close my eyes and think of mimes walking past the window.

              1. re: Motosport

                Hate to pile on, but it wasn't long ago on CH, that I questioned if Ceci Celi had sold. It's a shadow of what it once was. I continue to hope they turn it around and return to form.

              2. re: Peter Cuce

                Ceci Celi, eh. Like many others I have been going there infrequently for over a decade and the only thing they do well, and that I buy, is the fruit ring and the cheese danish. Not exactly high end or complicated. Simple, and when in the mood, satisfying. I agree with you, Ceci Celi is not what it once was. Patisserie Claude on the other hand still makes the best chocolate croissant in the city. Sure it is completely inauthentic, but awesome. Huge,fat, heavy and buttery but still has that crackle. Warm from the oven, nothing better.

                1. re: Peter Cuce

                  I was always a big fan of Ceci Cela,10 or 15 years ago I was there just about everyday. Laurent the owner/pastry chef I thought was fantastic. I started out eating the great almond croissants and then became hooked on their financiers. I was introduced to Ceci Cela thru Sullivan St Bakery who bought CC's pastries. Sullivan St back then hired a fantastic pastry chef and I wish I remembered what restaurant she is working at now. Anyway, I recently , on 2 visits, tried some of Ceci Cela's croissants and financiers. They were sub par ,,i am embarrassed that I supported them so strongly. I am amazed that they can go downhill like that . I hope it was just a fluke and I will try them again soon.
                  As for Ansel, his stuff looks great but isn't that good IMO. I used to like the Italian pastries at Bruno's but they too look better than they are.
                  Payard, well I hate his stuff. I love Japanese pastries, and in Japan I've had amazing French pastries in Ginza.
                  I love good pastries. I want one right now.
                  PS I hate Cronuts

              3. I agree 100% with Monica's post. NYC's French patisserie shops are nohere near the qiualityu and deliciousness of the real stuff that you find in pretty much any pattiserie and boulangerie in France.

                3 Replies
                1. re: RCC

                  There are lots of mediocre boulangeries and patisseries in France as well.

                    1. re: Pookipichu

                      I didn't say ALL patisseries and boulanger in France, did I?

                      Just to clarify on my point, I can equate the best we have here in NYC with the below average and mediocre ones in France.

                2. I agree as well. I've found that I fare better when I try different things—e.g., the macaron ice cream sandwich at Payard—rather than trying to replicate traditional French desserts.

                  (I will say that the very best croissant I've had in NYC comes from Athom, a hole in the wall in Bushwick.)

                  1. I think it's a matter of butter and profit margins, meets the discipline of a work intensive product. The typical New Yorker will rave about some mediocre pattiserie being just like what they had on a trip to France anyway. The sad fact is, when Starbucks rolls out the Boulangerie croissants, they will likely become one of the better croissants in the city. That's just wrong.

                    Have you tried Madaleine Pattiserie/La Maison Du Macaron for croissants and other non-Macaron items?


                    1. How does La Bergamote rank?

                      1. Le Toulousaine on Amsterdam btwn 106 and 107 is the real deal. The baker is French and from a family of bakers. Really really delicious. Croissants, Pain aux Raisins are great. Macarons just ok. Please go and have some excellent french pastries and support this family business and local gem on the upper west side!



                        2 Replies
                        1. re: chloeandbear

                          La Toulousaine is one of better places in the city, like La Bergamote, or Le Moulin a Cafe (which gets its pastries from Almondine), but not mind-blowing, IMHO. But yes, their pastries taste good enough, at least in New York.

                        2. For your calculations - New York had, once upon a time, two fine french bakeries Bonte and Dumas. No establishment can be without its critics, but both were near universally loved and would be judged to be on a much higher level than any place open today. What was done once can be done again.

                          24 Replies
                          1. re: wewwew

                            Why did they close down? Not enough customers or for other reasons? If they closed down because of not enough customers, I guess we know why NY no longer has good authentic French desserts.

                            1. re: Monica

                              It seems like the tides shifted to cupcakes...10 years ago? I love French desserts, but they are a bit fussy. In terms of mass consumption and food-on-the-go, cupcakes are pretty easy to get into mouths sans forks.

                              1. re: chompchomp

                                Honestly, there's more of everything these days then there used to be. I wouldn't say we've shifted to cupcakes. True, there are lots of cupcake shops, but there are also many more people at least trying to make authentic pastry, along with all of the folks making macarons, people purveying doughnuts, Japanese crossover bakeries, and all kinds of other variations.

                                1. re: Peter Cuce

                                  Very true.

                                  But there was a shift around the time Magnolia and Buttercup blew up, which I think also coincided with Tiramisu burn out. You can hire a random college kid to ice a cupcake, it doesn't involve pastry training. Even Macarons, which do take some skill, are essentially a baked good.

                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                    Yes I agree. But fads come and go, and after the outlier cupcake concerns disappear, we'll still have quality American style bakeries such as Magnolia, Duane Park Patisserie, and Billy's.

                                    1. re: Peter Cuce

                                      The thing about 'high quality american style' dessert is that it is pretty easy to make at home. I've tried stuff from Magnolia and Bill's and honestly, I like my cupcakes and carrot cakes way better. On the other hand, I know for sure, i can never make those complex French desserts at home.

                                      1. re: Monica

                                        Yeah, I like my friend's cupcakes better than Magnolia's! LOL

                                        1. re: Monica

                                          I've never liked Magnolia, I really don't understand the popularity, overly sweet, crude technique. Magnolia wasn't great to begin with, but ever since the expansion, I can't even eat them when they're free, brought to a party by someone because they're "famous".

                                          The standard bearer for American style desserts is Baked in Red Hook. Their crumb is perfect, a lot more care and skill is used.

                                          Billy's is a mixed bag for me. Too sweet for my taste but I love the flavor of their coconut cake, if it was less sweet, I'd rank it higher than the one at Balthazar. I had a slice of cherry pie at Billy's that still had undissolved circular discs of commercial sugar the size of poker chips. One time I bought a slice of their coconut cake and it smelled off, probably due to bad egg white. I informed them and they continued to sell the cake after I informed them and suggested they NOT continue to sell slices from it. It was a fluke but I haven't been back since.

                                          The problem really is this race to the bottom where customers don't care, businesses don't care. When Magnolia becomes some paradigm of quality, can a Pierre Hermé survive? People line up for defrosted Laduree macarons, why bother to have them produced here fresh.

                                          1. re: Pookipichu

                                            My inclusion of Magnolia was an error. And Billy's is spotty for sure, but I just am trying to point out that the overall level, in terms of both variety and depth, of pastry (and other things) is rising in New York. We are finally attracting high-end pastry and chocolatiers that have been in Tokyo for over 10 years. They do a lot of market research, so they must think it's worth their while.

                                            Don't make the mistake of thinking all people are the same. There are a lot of people in New York, with a variety of tastes, and still plenty of room to grow. More and more people are into quality food these days, and the overall level of quality of many things (such as coffee) in NYC, is rising.

                                            Just because trend whores and tourists line up for Magnolia and Grimaldi's, and just because people pack into McDonald's everyday, doesn't mean that high end stuff won't also do well. One has almost nothing to do with the other.

                                            It's easy to fall into despair at other people's eating choices, but to me the future has never looked brighter.

                                            1. re: Pookipichu

                                              Magnolia, singular. Adding plurals to things (Magnolia's) drives me nuts!

                                              1. re: loratliff

                                                I don't think Pookipichu said Magnolia's?

                                                Are you refering to my sentence by any chance?
                                                >Yeah, I like my friend's cupcakes better than Magnolia's!

                                                If so, I meant Magnolia's (cupcakes).
                                                It was possessive, not plural.

                                                1. re: kosmose7

                                                  I edited it for loratiff's benefit :) I have a habit of adding "'s". Let's get back to food now. :)

                                                  1. re: Pookipichu

                                                    Oic.. haha. Thanks for the clarification.

                                                    1. re: Pookipichu

                                                      Sorry, I meant my post to be a little more tongue-in-cheek than it might have come across as. Carry on!

                                                      (I find Sugar Sweet Sunshine's cupcakes to be my personal favorite.)

                                                      1. re: loratliff

                                                        I didn't take offense :) What I typed was incorrect and I'm sure it was annoying to read.

                                                        Have you tried the cupcakes at Baked? I'm not a cupcake person but theirs have been the best iteration I've had.

                                                        1. re: loratliff

                                                          Wow, speaking of grammar, Imagine learning grammar on chow hound. anyway, i thought it was tongue-and -cheek, thanks loratiff for teaching something new. I remember when I thought it was 'forest thru the trees" instead of "forest for the trees". Anyway, I think Magnolia has horrible cupcakes. I love Billy's carrot cake cupcakes. Melissa's all taste the same. I'm not sure what the cupcake trend is all about. Great French pastry is on such a higher level. Hopefully, we get some of that in NYC

                                                  2. re: Pookipichu

                                                    "Magnolia wasn't great to begin with"

                                                    I hate to say it, but there was a small window when it actually was.

                                                    Part of it was that the really ornate French and European pastries were starting to get associated with tacky places, selling knockoffs that had been sitting around too long.

                                                    Now that everyone's figured out you can in fact bake in a New York apartment, we take for granted that there was a point when buying a 50's homestyle cake off of cakestands, and hand iced cupcakes that looked like they were made for a children's party was revolutionary for Manhattan. It wasn't the cupcakes that hit big, it was the Red Velvet Cake, and then the Icebox Cake, and Banana wafer pudding, but the cupcakes were still cheap, and it was a good way to try the place without a giant slice. The cake slices were rich and satisfying. 8 people lined up in the shop was considered a big line.

                                                    Taylor's (was that the name of it?) had a few locations selling giant rice crispy treats, and really good brownies. There were a few other place too, and they all seemed exciting in their simplicity, and a step up from the dreadful Little Pie Company, which was practically the only place you could get handmade pie.

                                                    The demographics shifted too. More people moving to NY from the South, and Midwest

                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                      Perhaps Magnolia was good at one point, that being said, I've tried Magnolia on multiple occasions pre-Sex In the City and it has been average to bad. Their saving grace seemed to be that portions were generous. I also dislike their use of salted butter. I had no issue with Magnolia until people started rhapsodizing about how great it was/is. Post Sex In the City, this Magnolia craze is ridiculous. Now people give them as gifts or bring them to parties and more people could bake better cupcakes at home.

                                                      1. re: Pookipichu

                                                        It's a little like discussing whether or not Mrs. Fields are good today. Magnolia still ignited what became an industry, and for context we have to remember the context of just how influential they were, even beyond lousy cupcakes. It made people rethink what a food business could be. Of course, Eileen's Cheesecake had been around, and Levain, but still.

                                                        Macarons, Caneles, Kougins.... these weren't even available.

                                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                                          I pass by Magnolia almost everyday on my way to work and whenever I see a lot of people inside buying cupcakes, I almost feel bad for those unknown smaller bakeries who make cupcakes 10 times better with love and care.

                                                          1. re: Monica

                                                            Hello Monica
                                                            A bit up thread you asked why Bonte and Dumas closed. Bonte faced a 2x rent increase and the owner-baker had a long run in NYC so Florida and retirement seemed to be what was next. His wife, who ran the counter, expressed much sadness about being forced off the island. Dumas also had aging owner who had an even longer run possibly complicated by moving to an expensive larger location. Neither hurt for customers.

                                                            1. re: wewwew

                                                              so I guess it's not cost effective to make high quality desserts in NYC and to have a pastry shop. I know how 'cheap' it is to make cupcakes, carrot cakes and red velvet cakes(which I can't stand) so profit margin for these goods are obviously so much higher than high quality desserts that not only require expensive ingredients but also labor intensive as well.
                                                              Looking at Financier pastry shop, they sell ok pastries at pretty reasonable prices and they sell lots of it= profit.
                                                              Billy's bakery charges $35 for 8 inch carrot cake...that's a LOT of profit(the only thing expensive they use is cream cheese for frosting) but not too many people are going to pay $70 for a high quality French desserts even though it costs double or triple to make the cake.

                                                              1. re: Monica

                                                                Obviously, Pierre Herme seems to have figured it out and recently opened a shop in Hong Kong, but not in New York.... So sad....

                                                                1. re: Monica

                                                                  Again, age of the owner was a significant factor in the decision to close for both establishments, as I understand. A sixty year old who has had 20+ year old of successful operation in NYC might be less inclined to search out a cheaper location than a baker half that age.
                                                                  While the their prices were high they were not prohibitive.

                                      2. My favorite is Patisserie Claude in the West Village. They make the best pain au chocolat in my opinion :).