backstrEATS at a glance:
10 Columbus Circle (between W Central Park & Broadway)
3rd Floor of Time Warner Building
New York, NY 10019 Tel: 212) 823-9366
Neighborhood: Midtown West
Hours: Mon-Sat 8 am – 9 pm Sun 8 am – 7 pm
Atmosphere and Attire: Though it may be in a “mall” type area, the atmosphere is sophisticated chic at this upscale café/bakery. So I’d say no sweats type of casual. More “nice sweater and your good pair of jeans” type casual.
Seating (I just decided to include this in my backstrEATs at a glance.. because seating=real estate in NYC): Very limited, even if you choose the sit-down café option.
Cost: Really depends on what you’re there to get… I’d say light lunch fare (ie soups, sandwiches, and salads) will cost you around $12-20 including something to drink. But the average bakery item will be anywhere from $3-6.
Coke products: Yes. Small glass bottles of Coke products. They also sell coffee drinks, wine, water and juice.
59th St-Columbus Circle (1, A, C, B, D) * This stop takes you right beside or in front of the Time Warner building.
57th St-7th Ave (N, Q, R, W)
7th Ave-53rd St (B, D, E)
Notable things around it: Central Park, Jazz at the Lincoln Center, Time Warner, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Important Notes: Wheelchair accessible. Credit Cards accepted (No minimum)
It was a warm summer day in Ann Arbor when I bit into my first Bouchon macaron. I was driving down 5th street with a friend, who handed me a pale green confection and urged me to try it. I noted how smooth and delicate the outer shell was but m y first bite was with little ceremony. How foolish. I was instantly smitten with the ever so slightly crisp crust, the surprisingly moist interior, and that filling… oh that glorious filling! When I came to the next red light, I turned to my friend and said, “I’d move for this.” And 2 months later, I did.
Ok, so I didn’t really move to the east coast for the macaron. But what, if not a dramatic gesture, could describe how I feel about this sweet? I have been to Bouchon several times since then and have tried their selection of delicious pastries. But I always manage to order at least one pistachio macaron. After all, this lovely sweet was what led me to seek out Bouchon in the first place.
Bouchon Bakery peddles both traditional breads and pastries like those found in the boulangeries of France and innovative takes on classic favorites such as the TKO (a take on the Oreo cookie). Thomas Keller,a world renown chef and owner of Bouchon Bakery and several famous restaurants (The French Laundry and Per Se to name a few), opened the first Bouchon Bakery in Yountville, California in 2003. The bakery was created mainly to supply bread and pastries to Bouchon, Keller’s moderately priced French restaurant, and his other nearby restaurants. But with its growing success, Bouchon Bakery opened its first outpost in the Time Warner building in Manhattan in 2006 and another one in Las Vegas soon after.
Not being well versed in French, the name “Bouchon” stirred interest. Digging a little deeper through the web, I found out that it had two meanings: a type of restaurant found in Lyon, France that was like a tavern and stopper or cork of a bottle. Bouchons came into prominence in the 19th century. They were like the diner truck stops of our present day, mainly frequented by workers especially the ‘canuts’ who were silk factory laborers. According to the dictionary, Le petit Robert, the word can mean a bunch of twisted straw that was used to rub down horses. This would be hung on a sign outside of the restaurant to show customers that they were able to provide food, drink, and straw for them. Typically, the emphasis in a bouchon is on comfort food with humble ingredients and a cozy family atmosphere. For more information on bouchons, check out this wonderful article in saveur.com.
Yes. It’s in a mall type area. If you are a food snob, you may shudder and turn your nose up to the gleaming Samsung sign hanging above the third floor or the giggling of high school students near Sephora across from Bouchon. HOWEVER, there are many reasons why this location is perfect.
1. It is so close to the subway station, you can spit and hit the building from the station or visa versa (but… please don’t…).
2. It is right near the museum campus, Central Park, Lincoln Center, etc., which can make it a nice pit stop to or from your next destination.
3. There are nice public restrooms at Time Warner. Trust me when I say finding a decent bathroom in NYC is quite difficult.
4. You’ll get great views (and pictures!) of Columbus circle from the third floor of the Time Warner building. Better than risking life and limb in traffic to take a picture of it from the street.
5. The pastries!
Though it has a more casual feel because of its mall-like atmosphere, I would still consider Time Warner to be upper scale in terms of ambiance and store quality. About 5-7 round high tops and 3-4 regular tables are scattered in front of the retail section of Bouchon. Just a little further toward the escalators, Bouchon café has about 20-3o tables with full service. The overall look and feel is still quite inviting.
The Food:The pastries change with the season so be sure to visit Bouchon at different seasons to see what’s new from the oven. I have tried their demi baguettes and brioche. Not bad at all. I wouldn’t say it is the best I have ever had but it surely can hold its own. They do give free butter (unsalted) and preserves if you ask. The baguette is definitely better than the brioche.We obviously know that my choice of sweet is at Bouchon. The macarons. Oh Lordy Lordy… those macarons are going to be the death of me. Bouchon carries them in a variety of flavors. The regular cast features pistachio, chocolate, vanilla, and caramel with occasional guest stars of strawberry, raspberry, and lemon. Keller makes a beautiful macaron. They are almost as big as moon pies with a delicate shell on the outside. I spend a half of my time looking at the macaron and the other half devouring the delicious morsel.
I have also tried another beautiful item at Bouchon, the pain aux trois chocolats. The pain aux trois is a vision. It looked like a chocolate bar from the case… but indeed has the texture similar to a pain au chocolat. It is a triple threat of chocolate with cocoa powder mixed into the croissant dough (giving the pastry a beautiful bronze color), a 44% cacao milk chocolate center, and last but CERTAINLY NOT LEAST, a silky semisweet chocolate pastry cream that could stun any chocolate lover. The Pain aux trois is a Ménage à trois for my mouth ^^.
It periodically differs between great and ok. I have had absolute great service where the employee answered all my questions about the pastries and offered helpful suggestions. I have had ok service where I felt like the workers were rushing me down the line and somewhat irritated that I wanted more than one thing. They are very busy in the early morning and around lunch time so keep that in mind when planning your trip to Bouchon. The service is average and relatively politeOverall, it’s one of my favorite places I like to go for sweets. And with the constant change in seasonal foods, it is never boring! It’s 12:31AM… and I wish I was eating a macaron… Oh those things are beautiful.Well my lovely friends… I’m sorry it’s been forever… work is eating me alive. I hope you’re out there eating and experiencing! Until the next time, Eat On <3Tags: Bouchon Bakery, bread, café, Columbus Circle, desserts, food, French pastries, Macarons, Midtown West, New York City, pastries, Thomas Keller, Time Warner Building