Paris via New York: A Tale of Two Pâtisseries

From frequent contributor Betty Guernsey:

Pâtisserie Claude, at 187 West 4th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues in the West Village, is one of those very few, tiny places that has become almost extinct in Manhattan, vanquished due to gentrification and escalating rents. There’s nothing fancy about the place: four marble-topped tables, mismatched chairs, blaring radio, photos (including one of Claude) hanging slightly askew on the wall – but the secret of its success are its fresh-from-the-oven croissants (tender and flaky, though not necessarily buttery), brioches, quiches, éclairs – no breads here – the pride of display going to daily fresh-baked tartes (apple, pear, apricot, hazelnut).

Wonderfully old school, beloved in the neighborhood with its obvious regulars, Claude has clung to its location for years – the original owner, now retired, handed down his cherished recipes to his successor, who carries on from 8 am to 8 pm daily but for Sunday, when he closes at 7 pm.

At the other end of the spectrum, a mere hop, skip, and jump away at 137 7th Avenue South between 10th Street and Charles, is Dominique Ansel Kitchen, its lavender/white décor smacking of Parisian sophistication. Ansel, former pastry chef for Daniel Boulud, is a master of concoction, his fabulous croissants and pastries resembling mad hats designed by Schiaparelli — and his savories, works of culinary art.

Outstanding — his chilled heirloom tomato gazpacho, curvy shell-like garlic croissants, ruffly prosciutto-boursin crossantwich, and truffled crème fraîche cheesecake, all unlike any you’ve ever tasted. The menu, altered seasonally, is served from 9 am to 9 pm every day. Perhaps best of all, the Kitchen has a lovely outdoor terrace, welcoming on a warm spring day, a small but select choice of wines and beers, and for summer, their own ice cream.

Paris via New York: Parigot

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From frequent contributor Betty Guernsey:

Parigot (French slang for “Parisian”), occupying the corner of Grand Street where it meets Lafayette, is a small, friendly, downtown spot with the emphasis on unpretentiousness and a certain authenticity – similar perhaps to what you might find in an arrondissement like the 11th in Paris.

Its owners are French, the waiters are French, as are many of its patrons, many of whom have made Parigot their home away from home – in addition to locals living or working in the neighborhood.

With 12 tables and a tiny bar, it’s not fancy, but its typically Parisian menu includes an excellent steak au poivre, salade niçoise, a decent house wine, and a tarte tatin of which they are justifiably proud.

Have you eaten at Parigot? What’s your favorite item on the menu?

Paris via New York, Eric Kayser takes Manhattan

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From frequent contributor Betty Guernsey:

Eric Kayser takes Manhattan!

The Parisian maître boulanger, who comes from a family of French bakers going back four generations, has recently expanded his empire in New York City – there are now six locations that in addition to selling his wonderful breads, croissants, and pâtisseries, also offer sit-down breakfasts, lunches and dinners – all exquisite and tout-à-fait délicieux.

Two of the new locations also boast spectacular views from their outdoor terraces – the Maison Kayser at 1800 Broadway/58th Street, which overlooks Columbus Circle, and the Flatiron, 921 Broadway at 21st Street, from which you can see the Empire State Building.

To my mind, however, the West Village location (326 Bleeker at Christopher) is the most decidedly French in ambiance – aproned waiters in striped T-shirts slice chunks of freshly-baked baguette right in front of you, there’s a map of the Paris Métro in the toilette, and yes — you do see Parisians eating there.

Malheureusement, none of the Maisons Kayser in New York are licensed, even for wine, dommage when you have such beautifully prepared dishes as gratinée à l’oignon, coq au vin, boeuf bourguignon, and duck cassoulet on the plat du jour.

However, to make the meal a true French experience, patrons are welcome to bring their own wine, with a gracious no-corkage fee.


Have you eaten chez Eric Kayser in Paris or NYC? We’d love to hear about your experience.