NYC Bite: Padoca Bakery
At last, a creative bakery has opened up on the Upper East Side. No longer will foodies have to settle for the shockingly consistent mediocrity of Starbucks pastries (and their unexceptional competitors). That’s right, this neighborhood of affluent grandmothers adorned with fine furs has graduated from tasteless scones, burnt cookies, and desiccated muffins. Padoca Bakery, located on 68th Street and First Avenue, has, as a wise man named Jay Z once said, "changed the game."
Upon entering the bakery, you’ll find a marble countertop lined with Padoca’s unique pastries, baked fresh daily. The interior is vibrant, illuminated by natural light rushing in through floor-to-ceiling windows. Bright walls and wooden fixtures give the bakery a lively and rustic atmosphere. Padoca serves Nobletree Coffee, which comes from two small farms in the Sul de Minas region of Brazil. The beans then travel to Red Hook, Brooklyn, where they are roasted with care in Nobletree’s headquarters. Padoca’s baristas are trained by Nobletree to ensure that each cup of coffee is brewed and crafted with the finest techniques. The bakery's owner, Marina Halpern, earned a degree from the French Culinary Institute and worked alongside Jean-Georges at The Mark. The Pastry Chef, Rachel Binder, worked as the Pastry Chef at Maialino (in the Gramercy Park Hotel), as well as other world-renowned restaurants. Without a doubt, their combined experience and talent is evident in the food.
I tried the bakery’s two most popular items: the Black and White Brownie and the Rocky Road Cookie.
The brownie was fudgy and dense, and yet, not very heavy. Typically, I prefer a cake-brownie because of its lighter texture, but this one managed to incorporate the best of both worlds—rich like a classic fudge-brownie, and delicate like a classic cake-brownie. This hybrid was topped with a luscious chocolate icing and a coating of powdered sugar. The icing was extremely rich. I’m talking an impenetrable wall of melted-chocolate (no complaints), which complemented the airiness of the brownie. The powdered sugar coating was a perfect touch, for the brownie would have been overwhelmingly heavy if it had only been topped with the dense chocolate icing. Moreover, the light powdered sugar created a contrast to the richness of the chocolate icing, enhancing all of the flavors and textures at play. All in all, this brownie was downright fantastic. It’s amazing how Padoca combines these ordinary parts—a brownie, simple chocolate icing, and powdered sugar—into a creative little masterpiece. Sure, the pastry might not seem so groundbreaking at first, but no other bakery is making a brownie like this one. You’ve got to admire the innovativeness, as well as the mastery of simplicity on display with Padoca’s Black and White Brownie.
Next, I tasted the Rocky Road Cookie. Talk about innovation—I’m not sure if any other bakery in the city is selling this brilliant creation. The base of the cookie was compact, dense, and perfectly moist. If you love rich, luscious chocolate, then this cookie is for you. As you eat your way towards the middle, you’ll encounter pockets of delectable melted milk chocolate. You’ll also find marshmallows baked right into the cookie (what could be better?) and maybe even meet some candied pecans along the way. The gooey marshmallows, crunchy pecans, thick melted chocolate, and rich cookie will send your taste buds straight to paradise. There are so many incredible flavors and textures acting at once—sweet and salty, crunchy and gooey, light and dense—that you’ll find yourself in awe after each bite. Maybe best of all, the cookie offers an entirely new and unique taste, which is hard to find at any bakery. Truly the star of the show, the Rocky Road Cookie easily ousted the Black and White Brownie. It is a must try, so you better stop in if you pass by!