Sometimes it’s just great being the Accidental Locavore! As you know I’ve written a couple of times about Maison Kayser (it’s my favorite croissant in Manhattan). Their PR person, Janet Mick, invited me to lunch at their newest location on Third Avenue and 87th Street and I eagerly accepted!
It’s a nice, airy space, with a big seating area and a smaller take-out counter. If you’re seated in the right spot, you can watch the croissants going in and coming out of a stack of big ovens, and if you weren’t hungry before….
In the interest of trying as much of the menu as two people could, we started out with beautiful small heirloom tomatoes topped with burrata and pesto — a perfect August appetizer! Then, we added the fois gras torchons which came with their great bread toasted, and a cherry chutney. If you’re wondering how good they were, the fact that they were both pretty much demolished before I thought to take photos should be proof enough, right?
After that, I had a wonderful tartine with goat cheese, fresh figs and caramelized onions. It was a perfect blend of flavors (and looked great to boot). Janet had the salad–a big bowl full of fresh summer produce topped off with shrimp and a light lemon dressing.
Along with all this great food, Marine, the manager of this location, made sure we had the full selection of the breads Maison Kayser is famous for. Because I’ve had nut allergies, we had to skip the wonderful looking turmeric bread with nuts, but she made up for it with their amazing light rye with lemon zest (can’t wait to take some of that home and toast it!), a fig bread that would be perfect with a nice chèvre, whole grain, seeded (poppy and sesame) and white breads, any of which would be great to have around the house.
We couldn’t leave without at least a little taste of one of their incredible pastries, so Marine went off to surprise us. She came back with a trio of desserts, ranging from a dense dark chocolate tart, the Adagio with a passion fruit center and a chocolate glaze, a trio of bite-sized raspberry tarts (proving, as my husband always says, “the French really understand raspberries!’) and my favorite, the Saint-Honoré, three small cream puffs resting on a pastry base with caramel whipped cream. The crunch of the caramel glaze along with the cream and the pastry was just spectacular!
Part of what makes everything so good is that each location bakes everything from scratch, every day. The croissants are made hourly, to ensure that they’re always fresh. I mentioned to Marine that I was going to grab a couple to take to my cousin’s (where I was spending the night). She said she’d put together a few things for me to take home and I left lugging a huge shopping bag. There were croissants, plain and a giant chocolate one, fabulous chocolate chip cookies, a flakey palmier and a sweet bun, so we feasted through the night and had a fabulous breakfast the next morning!
If you’ve had your fill of that other French place, definitely check out Maison Kayser. This time I was their guest, but when I’ve been there on my own, the food has been consistently delicious, more interesting and the service better. There are now five of them in Manhattan, with a sixth opening in time for pre-marathon carbo-loading on the Upper West Side.