Whenever I find myself back in the neighborhoods where I grew up, Chelsea and the West Village, I often feel like they’ve lost a lot of their character. I know this is not an original thought. In the Village, where I would hang every day after school since that’s where my friends all lived, the cobblestoned streets, artists’ studios and coffee shops are nearly extinct. In their place are banks, Duane Reades and big shiny glass-encased condos.
I know this kind of change is inevitable but in my most cynical moments, I fear there will never be another new small, independent business here. That’s why I’m always excited to see a cool shop like Bien Cuit’s new Christopher St. location. The fact that it’s a bakery makes it even better.
The bakery space itself is very pleasant. The wooden tables and counter and a big rustic barn door next to the pastry case make for a relaxing environment. It’s really the opposite of the sleek formica or industrial steel designs you see so much of these days. There’s also plenty of natural light that comes in from two sides of the shop. However, the best thing about Bien Cuit, and the main reason for my visit, is their phenomenal bread, pastry and baked goods.
Their chocolate almond croissant is twice baked. The second baking comes after dip in some simple syrup and brandy. I really enjoyed this pastry. The texture added some crunch and the layers of pastry were flaky and flavorful. The photo says it all.
Their standard pain au chocolate was also first rate. It wasn’t too buttery and had just the right amount of dark-ish chocolate.
I was also able to try the Miche and the baguette–both were fantastic. I regret not buying a half a loaf to go of one of the other breads. The Miche, is the attention-grabbing round bread that’s about the size of a tire from my 1984 Toyota Tercel. It has a special crust that’s not easy to find in NYC. The description says it’s made with blended rye and wheat flours, fermented for 68 hours.
The baguette is also very good. It’s on the hearty side with a slightly tougher crust than some will be used to. But the inside is just as a baguette should be. Buy one of these and then swing over to Murray’s Cheese.
On my next trip I plan to try some of the pro-looking pastry. More info below.
Part II of our coverage of Bien Cuit is here. Bien Cuit has two locations. Their website is here. The main store is located on 120 Smith Street in Brooklyn the Manhattan location is on 35 Christopher Street (East of 7th Ave). Follow DessertBuzz on Twitter.