Sunday In The Park With Pastries

It’s Sunday morning.  You have peeled yourself out of bed and are ready to greet the day after a weekend of wild parties, turning heads, and a secret rendezvous or two.  Or maybe you spent your weekend by lounging at home in your PJs and watching every episode of 30 Rock, while drinking nearly a case of grape soda.  I don’t know your life and I don’t judge.  Either way you are about to start another week after the last one was full of long hours (be it spent at work or looking for work), bad food, and even worse coffee.  But that week is behind you and now it’s on to the next.  All of a sudden the all-important morning question hits you:  what should I do for breakfast?  Another bacon, egg, and cheese from the corner deli?  Thursday night’s leftover pizza? That Snickers I have stashed in the freezer?  No. It’s time to embrace the good and head out your door and into the Brooklyn neighborhood of Dumbo to bask in the glory that is Almondine Bakery.

Tucked away on Water Street under the Brooklyn Bridge, Almondine was started in 2004 by Herve Poussot (former pastry chef at Le Bernardin and Payard) and Jacques Torres (Mr. Chocolate himself).  It brings a little bit of France into the outer borough, minus the pretension.  It was voted “Best Bakery” by New York Magazine (2009) and it is a place that is certainly worth the trip across the bridge (Yes, even if you are coming from “all the way uptown.”  Stop whining and hop on the train.).   The croissants here are simply to die for:  flaky on the outside, with an inside that nothing short of is dense, buttery, moist deliciousness.   These croissants are from another planet as those chewy, non-flaky pre-wrapped ones you find at Gristedes.  Blech.

Now I am a lover of croissants.  But my favorite indulgence at Almondine is not this version of the classic croissant, nor it’s famous almond croissant, nor the dreamy pain au chocolate.  Don’t get me wrong – they are all capital-A-Amazing.  But the item I reserve a special place in my stomach for is bakery’s raspberry beignet.  Oh, beignets, I love you.  I hate classic doughnuts but inexplicably love you.  I loved you at Café Du Monde in New Orleans and I love you here in Brooklyn.  It is a love of contradictions but one that was meant to be.  Ahem….moving on:  at Almondine, the beignets are bursting with delicious raspberry jam, and lightly covered in sugar.   It may cause you a sugar rush of the best kind, but that’s ok.  Order a cup of coffee to chase it and all will be well.  It’s science!  (Not really).  But be forewarned:  if you want to sample this piece of culinary greatness, you have to get to the bakery early. These treats are baked in the morning and once they are gone, they are gone.   Bye-bye, my love.  Though if you find yourself on a quest to try this deep-fried pastry only to find that they have already been snatched up, do not fret.  There are many other items to enjoy at the bakery, of either the sugary or savory persuasion.  Items not to miss upon any visit include:  the homemade Rocher, yummy baguettes, the Croque Monsieur, beautiful macarons, giant chocolate chip cookies (with chocolate from Jacque Torres across the street), and the cheese-filled soft pretzels.  You read that right.  Cheese-filled soft pretzels.  Whatever menu choice you make at Almondine, enjoy.

But it’s cold outside and you are feeling a bit too lazy to throw on a coat and head to the bakery.  Do not fear!  For those fortunate enough to live in Dumbo, Almondine offers Room Service.  That’s right.  They will bring their delectable treats and coffee right to your door (available on Sunday mornings only).  So to all of you lucky Dumbo-dwelling souls:  I hate you.   The rest of us must brave the weather and fussiness of the subway.  However, if you do visit the bakery in person you will be greeted with a warm and cozy space that smells of what I can only imagine Heaven smells like.  Not much seating is available inside, but you can always walk around the corner to Brooklyn Bridge Park to take in a beautiful view of Manhattan and enjoy your breakfast.

Almondine has two locations: 85 Water Street in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn (the original location) and 442 9th Street in Park Slope.  Each location is open Monday-Saturday 7 am–7 pm and Sunday 10am-6pm.

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