New West Village Bakery Brings Back The Charm

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.

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here

Do you enjoy drinking in New York bars? Then check out BlackBook’s New York Guide and BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android. Keep up on the latest openings and events across the nation by signing up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings newsletter. 

The Sandwich Maestro

I have to tell you about this guy in the office. I know his actual name, but I’ve taken to calling him the Sandwich Maestro. Dude comes out of the break room nearly every day with the perfect sandwich on a paper plate.

It’s magnificent, this sandwich. Awe-inspiring. Sort of like the sandwich you see in a Boar’s Head poster at the deli but can never actually order because it’s made out of photogenic, inedible plastics. It’s like a cartoon of a sandwich—a sandwich Dagwood might eat, piled high with meat and cheese the crispest, greenest lettuce I’ve ever seen. Pretty sure it involves slices of salami and ham. And spicy mustard. Great multigrain bread, too, looks like.

It nearly drove me to madness, though: where did he acquire such a sandwich? The lunchtime offerings down in the Financial District, while plentiful, are not top-tier. You can get a decent sub, but nothing like the radiant heaven of this guy’s sandwiches. He must, I concluded, bring his lunch from home—but this made no sense either! No sandwich survives a rush-hour New York commute looking like that: it’d be half-crushed, the lettuce browning slightly, defeated.

Then, one fateful day, I discovered his secret. Are you ready?

He makes the sandwiches at the office.

HOW COULD I HAVE BEEN SO BLIND? He stocks the shared fridge with his cold cuts and lettuce at the beginning of the week, then assembles his masterpieces with fresh ingredients and eats it right then. A solution so elegant it would take a genius to conceive of it. Either that or I’m dumb. Also: far too lazy to do this. Guess I’m off to Au Bon Pain.