When Maury Rubin abandoned a career in television-sports production to open the City Bakery in 1990, he gave the somewhat fusty category a minimalist makeover, as imbued with modern style as with high-butterfat butter. Since then, his Flatiron institution has been the consummate expression of culinary yin and yang, of seasonal vegivore salad bar and decidedly non-cookie-cutter pastry case. (If you are having cookies, the peanut butter’s a sleeper.) It is the home of the savory pretzel croissant, the annual hot-chocolate festival, and some of the city’s best French toast and mac ‘n’ cheese, and it has spawned outposts in Japan and Detroit, not to mention the eco-friendly Birdbath “green” bakery chainlet. But more than that, it’s a casual, cafeteria-style meeting place that’s managed to retain a distinctive personality in a city increasingly overrun with anonymous chains, bakery and otherwise.