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Monsieur Baguette


85 Water St., nr. Dock St., Dumbo, Brooklyn; 718-797-5026
“Mmmm, yeah,” said the professor. The Almondine baguette has a nice look, nice resonance, and a nice song, he said. It has a little bit of fruit, a peachy, buttery quality in its nose, he noted. It achieves a good marriage of crust and crumb, and although “it would not be among the best breads in Paris, it would hold its own clearly in a neighborhood bakery—but then there are 1,275 neighborhood bakeries in Paris.”
SCORE: 14.65

2.Pain d’Avignon
Available at Corrado Bread & Pastry at Grand Central Market; 212-599-4321
If not for a bad case of acne, this Long Island City wholesaler might have taken home another golden sheaf of wheat. “It looks like it has eczema, psoriasis, or leprosy,” said the professor. “These are pustules,” he said, examining the pimpled crust. “Probably bread that’s in deferred fermentation.” And that’s too bad, because otherwise the professor liked the tactility of its crust, the articulation of its crumb, and its elegant shape: “If this were a model, you could see it coming down the runway in Balenciaga or Dior.”
SCORE: 12.80

3.Amy’s Bread
672 Ninth Ave., nr. 47th St.; 212-977-2670; and other Manhattan locations
Amy’s is the best-smelling baguette in town, according to the professor, reminding us that what Baudelaire said about wine (“If it had a soul, it would be found in its aromatic constitution”) applies equally to bread. And what Amy’s lacks in looks (“inelegant,” “underbaked,” and “sickly in color,” according to the professor) it makes up for not just in aroma, but also mouthfeel (“solicitous, inviting, with an early precocious sense of the taste of it”) and a relatively “tasteful crustiness,” even though it is a “pale crustiness without soul because there is no caramelization to speak of.”
SCORE: 11.15

4.Balthazar Bakery
80 Spring St., at Crosby St.; 212-965-1785
The “very seductive” Parisian look of the Balthazar baguette elicited pangs of nostalgia in the professor for Paris, and, with its “golden-orange top” and “browner orange sides,” ended up in a first-place tie with Almondine in the appearance category. Taste was another story: “It’s insipid. It lacks sapidity. The taste is flat, disappointing, starchy.”
SCORE: 10.95

5.Le Pain Quotidien
Locations citywide
The Belgian chain’s downfall was a Grand Canyon–esque fissure in the bottom of its baguette, the product, perhaps, of insufficient fermentation, insufficient kneading, or both, resulting in a flunking score for appearance: “When you have a sense of self about baking, you don’t let this out of the bakery,” said the professor. “This is an abomination.”
SCORE: 8.80

6.Sullivan St. Bakery
533 W. 47th St., nr. Tenth Ave;. 212-265-5580
This Italian bakery makes a stirato, not a baguette. But the beauty of the professor’s template is that it allows for “many different perspectives, which enable everyone to address the same fundamental issues of organoleptic (sensorial) quality.” That said, Sullivan ranked high in many organoleptic ways, including first in mouthfeel and third for both the crumb and taste. An acute lack of crustiness did it in, or, as the professor put it, “It’s as if the female crumb has completely reduced the male crust to helpless impotence.”
SCORE: 8.60


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