Pi Bakerie, NYC

This story starts with my friend Scot (hi Scot!). I was in NYC a bit ago for work, but on a weird schedule. Still, I told Scot I was dropping by to see if it could possibly work to meet up. We’ve made weird logistics work before, so I had faith it might work out. And indeed, we decided to get a very early breakfast one day before I headed to Amtrak to train to D.C.

Scot suggested we stick near my hotel, so I went to look up options. We needed a good plan, because the last time Scot and I tried to wander and find an early breakfast in Tribeca, we ended up essentially failing: nothing was open yet! This time I turned to Yelp. When I set the “open at 7 AM” filter a few things came up- but one caught my eye right away. It was called Pi Bakerie and the minute I read it was a Greek bakery, I knew we had to go. I am a huge fan of Greek food, but aside from things like spanakopita and baklava, I hadn’t had many Greek pastries in the past. I was excited to try out Pi Bakerie and see what else Greek baked goods had to offer.

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Savory pastries

Pi Bakerie is in the south bit of Soho, pretty close to the Holland Tunnel. It’s conveniently near many subway lines, so it’s easy to get to from a good part of NYC. Let me tell you: going to this restaurant is a very good choice. It was just opening up as we got there, which meant no line and plenty of time to deliberate what we wanted to eat. We tried several things: a flaky pastry called the Egg Painerli, a piece of spanakopita, a salmon Koulouri, and some cookies to go.

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Our breakfast

Let’s start with the egg pastry. It was a most satisfying, delicious breakfast. Imagine layers of flaky dough with a perfectly cooked egg in the middle and warm cheese. It was so good, I was actually sad when I finished eating it. The koulori is closest to a bagel,  with a nice taste of sesame. Our koulori had really fresh toppings on it and helped round out our breakfast feast. The spanakopita ended up being my lunch that day and I was happy it still tasted amazing hours later. It was the perfect blend of cheese and spinach inside an equally indulgent buttery shell, more like a filled pastry than the usual slice format I find with spanakopita at restaurants. And let’s not forget the cookies: I enjoyed them all, but especially liked the ones tinged with honey (can’t remember the name!)

Pi Bakerie only opened in the last year, which explains why we didn’t find it the last time we went wandering Tribeca in search of breakfast. Now that we know it’s there, we’ll definitely need to go back! I have my eye on many of their lunch-time “pi” specialties (you can see the full menu here).

 

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Arcade Bakery, NYC

I ended up on a last minute business trip to New York last week. In all, I spent about 36 hours in the Big Apple, with a good chunk of that time dedicated to work and sleeping. And yet, despite the time crunch, I enjoyed one of the most delectable croissants I’ve had in recent memory.

Whenever I go to New York, I look for bakeries in whatever neighborhood I happen to be. Though I’ve stayed in Tribeca a multitude of times over the past few years, I figured it was worth a shot to see what popped up on Yelp if I searched for “bakery.” Ta-dah: a place called Arcade Bakery caught my eye. It had 4.5 stars and, importantly was within a 10-minute radius of both my hotel and my company’s NY office. I was surprised I’d never noticed Arcade in the past, so I did a bit of light web-hopping to learn more. And thus I learned a couple of important facts: first, that Arcade had been nominated for Bon Appetit’s “Best New Restaurants” list mere months ago. Second, it’d been open since spring 2014- but it was tucked away in an office building, beyond the reach of the average pedestrian’s eye. It’s down a street called Church, which I don’t think I’ve ever wandered down before… but now I know better!

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Entering Arcade’s arcade

Fresh, flaky croissants 10 minutes from my office? I knew I had to try it. So Monday morning I set out to see if Arcade could live up to the hype. Arcade is located on the ground floor of an office building and it doesn’t actually have any retail space fronting the street. Still, when you get close, you’ll know: a rich, buttery smell wafts all the way out to the street. Open the building’s door and you’re in a beautiful hallway arcade with vaulted ceilings and wooden walls.The space is split between people racing into the office building for a hard day’s work, and people lined up to sample Arcade’s tempting treats.

As the line inched closer I got a better glimpse at the pastries on display. A mix of croissants, viennoiseries and breads greeted me. I knew I had to have a chocolate croissant, and I decided to also try a pear chocolate pastry. Because when in the Arcade… why not?

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The Pear and Chocolate Pastry

I don’t buy many croissants, because I find they tend to hit one of two extremes: amazing, or not worth the butter. This croissant was so worth it. It was flaky on the outside with  a perfect dough, and chocolate melted out of the middle the minute I bit into it. That warm buttery dough with melting chocolate was a most delectable taste. It was the most satisfying, buttery pastry I’ve had in a really long time. I tend to buy a lot of the “intriguing” pastries with uncommon ingredients versus classic, but this croissant was a good reminder of just how great the classics can be. The pear pastry was wonderful too. Its outside was also flaky, opening up to layers of pear bits and chocolate and a satisfying, almost moist, dough. I was bummed that they didn’t have their famed babka out yet, but they don’t start selling babka til 10 AM and my pre-work run was too early. I also read they have magnificent pizza so I’ll need to go back sometime around lunch.

A picture from Arcade’s Facebook page, because my phone photo was horrible.

Arcade is literally in an arcade, which feels almost poetic. As I sat at one of their clever pull-down tables taking the first bites of my croissant, I loved the feeling of the vaulted ceilings and the constant action racing through the hallway. I had to head to work, though, so after those first couple bites, my pastries went back in the bag, and out on the road. Next time I’d love to linger longer.

Maybe it’s a good thing I’m not at our NYC office more often, because it’d be really hard to stop myself from walking the short walk between our office and Arcade on a semi-regular basis. Actually, our office is also within a short walk of Dominique Ansel, and the renowned brownie masters Baked. I don’t know when I’ll be back at our NY office, but you can imagine I plan to make another trip over to Arcade. Maybe I’ll get my timing to match up with the babka this time around….