Upper West Side’s whimsical bistro/bakery/café Sugar and Plumm opens a second location today in the West Village that’s truly the sweeter baby sister getting all the attention. Smaller-sized and with less of a bistro bent, this new downtown spot is more of a carry-out operation, making it that much easier to justify “just running in for something real quick" – that something being a flaky chocolate croissant, banana chocolate macaron, or towering brownie sundae. And if you too enjoy some attention, grab one of the few stools in the front, and give passersby a fine view of you shoveling dollops of whipped cream.
Cake in a cup. More specifically, layered cakes in cups filled with ingredients like salted caramel, milk chocolate ganache, peanut butter mousse, and raspberry honey jam – even bourbon cake. Which is fitting considering the individualized cup portions are bourbon glass-sized, and slightly intoxicating (I’m looking at you, honey bourbon cake). So of course, these cake cups are becoming a thing in the West Village, where they’re being sold at the recently-opened Bee’s Knees Baking Co. And with appearances at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, The Jade Hotel, and hundreds of weddings, the Bee’s Knees cake cup phenomenon is turning cupcakes on its head, and off its frosted, regal throne.
Opening on 12/12/12, as Bee’s Knees did, comes with a good deal of expectations. Both a doomed and auspicious day, Bee’s Knee’s has since emerged victorious, with customers rushing in at 8am for their Gorilla Coffee (only place in NYC to serve the Brooklyn-based brew) and croissants, and midday to lounge at the communal wooden table by the long front windows for some free Wi-Fi and chocolate PB cake cups.
Every day, around six or seven fixed and rotating flavors are offered, such as red velvet, lemon raspberry, carrot, PB & J, and even coconut grapefruit all baked fresh by chef Billy Mayer in a kitchen on Bowery. The most popular cup: the chocolate salted caramel – layered with chocolate cake, a thick ring of salted caramel, and roasted pecans and chocolate cake crumble on top.
So how did the cake cup idea arise? Switzerland-born co-owner Marco Stucky (pictured below) has the answer: “Americans love variety and options like nothing else,” he said. “So we wanted to come up with a cake that was as multilayered in flavor and as individualized as possible.”
Since opening, Stucky has not only lost 30 pounds from running around the shop, but has also become somewhat of the neighborhood talk show host; regulars know and love him for his easy conversation, passion for Bee’s treats, and his ability to remember your name. If you’re lucky – he’ll throw a couple of free, shot-sized samples in there to hold you over after lunch.
But Stucky isn’t the only European native in the shop. The coffee machines themselves, handpicked by Gorilla Coffee, are handmade and straight from Florence, Italy and Germany. “These are all top-of-the-line,” Stucky said. “Gorilla wanted to make sure we have the quality standards they have.”
And to test this, the drink to get is their signature Hot Nasir (named after a loyal regular, lucky guy), which blends hot caramel with a shot of espresso. Pair that with the chocolate salted caramel and, well, your morning becomes “the bee’s knees.”
Spending the morning at a little corner café with a good book and steaming coffee sounds like weekend bliss – until you look around and realize your escape looks like more like a laptop-scattered, Facebook-festered battlefield than the picture of neighborhood quaint. But on the corner of Waverly Pl. and Christopher St. sits a newcomer who offers that 19th-century charm: Bien Cuit, flanked with whitewashed wooden tables, long, front windows, buttery ham and cheese, and chocolate croissants – and no connection to technology. And since we know Bien’s Wi-Fi-less days are temporary and numbered (sigh), it makes a day spent there even more pressing.
If you’re a Brooklyn resident, you’ve probably heard of the café before, most likely linked with words like “the bread,” “pastries,” “like Paris,” and “addiction.” With its first location in Cobble Hill, the owners seek to maintain the same vibe as Bien’s BK counterpart. However, when placed in the West Village, the café-bakery takes on a whole different feel, more European, as if a page from a Bronte book was brought to life.
Though the menu teems with savory-sweet breakfast pastries like almond paste-poppy seed tebirke, maple yam Danish, and almond croissants, the desserts and sandwiches hit the flavor extremes, with options like banana chocolate bourbon tart, and porcini and parsnip and roast beef sandwiches. And perhaps the best part is that everything, including the bread, is homemade and baked on-site at the Cobble Hill location, so every sandwich is guaranteed to have that fresh bread. Plus, since all the goodies are delivered fresh from across the river twice a day daily, they’ll most likely always have your favorites there waiting for you. But then again, as word gets out (whoops!), they’ll run out. So moral of the story: Go.
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Breaking up sucks. You lose a friend, a conveniently-located place to crash, someone to eat the other half of your fries so you don’t, and semi-regular sex. But the one thing you gain? The right to eat and bitch as much as you very well please hell fucking YES.
Here are our top dessert spots to bitch about a break-up, all across New York. Grab your best friends and the best cookies, cupcakes, pastries, and ice cream in town, and let it allll out.
Sometimes a restaurant opens in New York that makes you wonder, “How did this not exist before? How did we live without it?” It’s a rare, divine occurrence, and the first dining experience at this kind of place is filled with a lot of head-scratching, unfinished sentences (“I just… I don’t know… where do I… begin?”), and cleaned plates. If this is something you have yet to experience, then stop into Landbrot, the new German bar and bakery in the West Village and LES. With one bite of their just-baked salted pretzel, a sip of Hoss Holzar beer, and a scoop of German chocolate cake, you’ll realize Landbrot is that kind of place, and there’s no living without it.