If you haven’t noticed, I like fancy restaurants. However, when Terry and I travel, we tend to do smaller, less-fancy places because I think you get a flavor of wherever you’re at a bit better than at fancier digs. We want to eat with the people. Or something.
I knew that Thomas Keller’s restaurants would be on vacation most of the time we were in New York (and that I should have thought about Per Se reservations weeks before I actually did), but I made him promise that we would get to Columbus Circle so I could get some macarons at Bouchon Bakery. I had heard that they were the best macarons in the States, so I had to have some. Then, Kari told me they had the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. I am not one to ignore such tidbits of information, so one slightly overcast day, we headed over there.
There are two sections to the bakery, which is housed in the Time Warner building in Columbus Circle. First, the bakery, which is a simple stand where you can pick up a cookie or a sandwich, and then a full-service cafe. We went through the line at the bakery, hardly able to make up our minds as to what we wanted. I ended up with exactly what I had planned on getting: a macaron and a chocolate chip cookie.
The macaron I chose was fruits of the forest, which were two purplish almond-and-egg-white cookies sandwiching some berry preserves. Crisp and delicious, but a whole lot bigger than the ones I’ve had in the past. I prefer the small ones, but these were pretty tasty.
The chocolate chip cookie was good, but not the best I’ve ever had. I think that, perhaps, these would be awesome straight out of the oven. Still, it was a darn good cookie.
We went outside to prance around in Central Park and it started raining. Sheets. So we decided to wait out the rain by having a meal in Bouchon Bakery. After all, I’d only had a macaron (we saved the cookie for later).
The service was excellent; our waiter was knowledgeable but laid back and ignored my picture-taking. Terry (who had munched on some leftovers for breakfast before I was even up) wasn’t hungry, but he saw my eyes light up when the waiter mentioned melon soup, so he ordered it. What a trouper. It was fantastic: that amazing sensation of fresh melon, with some tarragon and creme fraiche– outstanding. I savored every bite he shared with me.
It was accompanied by some outstanding French bread and butter.
I ordered a very traditional sandwich– jamon et fromage. Ham, Gruyere, and a bit of mustard pressed together. They were a total trip back to paris– cheesy, melty– if I hadn’t been in the middle of a mall (yes, Bouchon Bakery sits inside what is essentially a mall) I’d have thought I was in Paris. It was accompanied by a small salad and a few cornichons.
If you’re in the area and want a taste of Thomas Keller but can’t get into Per Se, try Bouchon Bakery. And don’t skip the macarons for anything!