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Eclair Bakery (Midtown East)

Prompted by this recommendation from fellow 'hound sukekiyo, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9613..., I decided to give Eclair Bakery a try.

First, let me say I am by no means an expert on what makes a good eclair, but I just know what tastes good *to me* and these were darn good.

I tried the caramel and praline ones and both were tender (sort of light and flaky but not croissant-like), and not too sweet as the eggy pastry dough was a good contrast to the sweet toppings and the cream. Although, I must admit the caramel one had a strong Cracker Jack aftertaste in the mouth -- a bit odd.

While the eclairs are generally pretty good, I think the true standout at this place is the King Cake -- a riff on the traditional Northern French King Cake (or galette des rois), and not the Cajun style ones that look like an overgrown glazed cinnamon roll with a hole in the middle.

Eclair Bakery's version is light and airy (the puff pastry execution here is truly extraordinary with a nice crunchy, caramelized top layer) and filled with good almond-y frangipane (that I believed had a hint of rum, but who knows).

Good add to the 'hood.

Go for the eclairs, stay for the King Cake.

Eclair Bakery
(I believe where Top Tunes Karaoke used to be, don't ask how I know that)

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  1. Thnx for that, ipsedixit. I live in the neighborhood and walked by yesterday thinking ill have to remember to check this out.

    1. This sounds promising!
      Were the eclairs filled with a proper pastry cream or was it the whipped cream filling??

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ttrockwood

        I didn't ask, but I'm almost positive it was cream.

        Given Stefan's pedigree (the owner/baker), I can't imagine him using anything but proper crème pâtissière (and pâte à choux for the outer layer).

        But ask him, he's very friendly and willing to chat about all his creations. He kept trying to get me to get a croissant, but a couple of eclairs and a King Cake was more than enough for one trip. Nonetheless, he still gave me a sample to try. Not going to comment on it as it was given to me ...

      2. oh darn it....5 extra lbs I don't need...because I work on 53rd and park.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Monica

          will be there tomorrow but wow, i can't believe he is charging less than $2 for a macaron....it seems like a bargain where everyone is charging close to $3.

        2. Bought 2 kinds of éclairs, 1 macaron, one raspberry almond croissant, one canele and a loaf of baguette. Eclairs were excellent..The best I've had in US.. not soggy not gummy not too sweet. The shell was outstanding. Croissant was excellent as well. Macaron was rather disappointing and canele was really disappointing. Baguette was amazing as well. They buy the dough and bake it in house. Good crust..will be back for baguette and eclairs. Also want to try their cakes.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Monica

            I see a King Cake in your future.

            I need to try the Wendy.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              I don't remember seeing it...maybe king cake is seasonal?
              i am going back today for more goodies.

              1. re: Monica

                Seasonal? They've been open for like 2 months!

                When I got my slice I saw a whole cake there for only $30. Very tempting. I would've been a rock star back at the office!

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  isn't king cake seasonal? Anyway, I don't remember seeing the king cake yesterday. I was surprised how good their baguette was.

                  1. re: Monica

                    Got the king cake..it was sliced...i was just thinking about a large round cake. can't wait until I taste it.

                    The guy at the counter is very very friendly....too friendly, i needed some time to get adjusted to it.

                    1. re: Monica

                      Traditionally, the King Cake is seasonal, here's some info from a Google search.
                      When is King Cake Season?
                      King Cake season begins on January 6th which is Kings Day, 12th Night and the Feast of the Ephipany and ends on Mardi Gras Day. This is traditionally the only time when it is appropriate to eat King Cakes.

                      Why is it called a King Cake?
                      Kings Day is the date when the three kings or Magi supposedly arrived at the manger with those gifts for Jesus. That explains the King Cake name as well as the baby.

            2. Is this related to the old Eclair that used to be on 86th Street (with a branch for a while in the pre-food-court Grand Central lower concourse)?

              5 Replies
              1. re: Sneakeater

                I do not think this is related to the original. I think the first Eclair was in Forest Hills. In the 70s, they had an outpost on the corner of First Avenue and 54th Street and, I believe, another one on SEcond Avenue in the 40s.

                1. re: Sneakeater

                  If you were referring to an UWS location, Eclair used to be on 72nd St. between Columbus and Broadway. According to an employee at Birdbath who was leaving to work at Eclair, it IS related to the old chain, but I'm not exactly sure how.

                  1. re: Dave Feldman

                    You know, you're right. I get confused as I age.

                    1. re: Sneakeater

                      At least it sounds like you, unlike me, had a few good years of clarity.

                      1. re: Dave Feldman

                        Thank you for that. But this is really beyond excuse.

                        What would Bashevis Singer have been doing hanging out on the Upper East Side?

                2. We have now gotten eclairs from this new bakery twice. Both times they were delicious. I think we had a chocolate and a coffee. As noted, the shell was not soggy at all, the filling was great, it is proper "filling," not whipped cream. Not too sweet. I thought they were much better than Eric Kayser's, which I was disappointed with. We will have to try the other options on offer.

                  1. Glad to know that people are having positive experiences at Eclair! :) I've never had King Cake before though it sounds quite promising.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sukekiyo

                      So far I've tasted maple walnut, passion fruit, plain and praline and praline is the clear winner in taste. Also loved the raspberry financiers and almond croissant.

                    2. I live less than two blocks away from this place and might never have noticed it if not for this post, so thanks!

                      So far I've tried their milk chocolate éclair, a range of macarons, and the canelé.

                      I enjoyed all of them, though in contrast to Monica, my favorite was actually the canelé. I'm fairly new to these so my points of reference are fairly limited (NoMad, Lafayette, Bouchon), but their version is the largest I've encountered. This results in a higher ratio of custardy center to crust that I personally prefer.

                      Here's hoping that this place manages to thrive despite its location. I suspect I'll be doing my part...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: roolfdriht

                        sadly, eclairs I bought last Friday were too sweet.
                        I will give canele another try.

                        I mainly go to this bakery to buy their amazing baguette. =)

                        1. re: Monica

                          My sweet tooth is a definite obstacle to this, but I should give the baguette a shot at some point too.