6 at Spring St.; N, R at Prince St.; B, D, F, M at Broadway-Lafayette St.
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As carefully done up and softly lit as the main Balthazar restaurant next door, the bakery is another example of McNally perfectionism. It's a small space, not much bigger than a couple of baguettes laid end to end, but the staff keeps the line moving briskly. The loaves include the levain with a sourdough edge that's won infinite fans through the restaurant's breadbasket. Classic French viennoiseries (brioches, croissants, pains au chocolats) are joined by sticky buns and a retooled focaccia studded with dried fruit. The outstanding chocolate bread, made with Valrhona chocolate, is, unfortunately, only available Friday through Sunday. Salads are sparked by tangy vinaigrettes; sandwiches excel with curried chicken or ham-and-Gruyère; individually-sized pastries and full-sized cakes rub shoulders along the marble countertop. A few items fall back in the pack, like the sometimes-gummy cannelé, a small cake with a custardy interior. But most are expertly turned out, from the cocoa powder-topped walnut brownies to the caramel-laced chocolate raspberry tart. Now, if they would put the much-missed lentil salad back in rotation, all would be right with the world.Extra
Swing by after 7:30 p.m. to get a 40% discount on the day's baked goods and other perishables.
Soho's hippest bistro offers wedding cakes. Pastry chef Mark Tasker (who works out of both New York and New Jersey) decorates classic cakes with his signature toasted-marzipan butterflies. Flavors include a gateau au citron cake with meringue and buttercream (prices vary, entire cakes start at $200).