The Cronuts in Our Midst
I've never had a Cronut and probably never will, unless someone ventures down to Soho's Dominique Ansel Bakery for me, stands on line for two hours, then brings it back -- along with a coffee: milk, no sugar -- to East 86th Street. Volunteers? I understand that one bite of the doughnut-croissant crossbreed is enough to make grown men weep, and that scalpers can get $100 for the $5 pastry. To procure one for myself though, I would have to take a bus to the train to Spring Street then walk west to Prince. Estimated travel time: 50 minutes. Instead, I'd rather support one of the noteworthy bakeries right in my own Upper East Side neighborhood, some of which have their own interpretation of the coveted Cronut. Fairway (86th Street between Second and Third Avenues) offers the D'Oissant with a variety of fillings, and Crumbs (Lexington between 92nd & 93rd; Third between 78th & 79th) has what's called a Crumbnut. The Nutella version is a fave in my house, but honestly now that the chain carries Girl Scout cookie-flavored cupcakes, why bother with anything else? I think I feel that way in general. Did we really need a new type of pastry? I have been quite content with the gooey goodness from Insomnia Cookies (Second Avenue between 80th & 81st Streets), as well as the cut-above baked indulgences from Two Little Red Hens (Second Avenue between 85th & 86th Streets), William Greenberg (Madison between 82nd & 83rd Streets) and Eleni's (Madison & 90th Street). Glaser's (First Avenue between 87th & 88th) bakes doughnuts and croissants, but has not jumped on the hybrid bandwagon. They just do what they've been doing since 1902, and it's all delicious. If you haven't been yet, do head over to Ô Merveilleux (Second Avenue between 78th & 79th Streets), which opened about six months ago. It is like walking into a jewelry store, except instead of diamonds, rubies and emeralds, you'll find speculoos (spiced gingerbread) choux, and merveilleux -- a Belgian treat where a cloud of meringue is covered in another cloud of whipped cream, then drizzled with chocolate shavings. There's no need to embarrass yourself by asking if they make a version of the Cronut, as I already did that enough for all of us. The polite young woman behind the counter shook her head and gave me a "you poor creature" look; the same that I imagine I'd get from a salesperson at Tiffany's if I wanted to know whether they had necklaces made of plastic. Last but not least, Orwasher's (78th Street between First and Second Avenues) has doughnuts as well as cookies, but I would trade a hundred confections for a loaf of their freshly baked bread. FYI: You haven't lived until you've tried the one infused with olives. See, there's no reason to go downtown to satisfy your sweet tooth. But with all these Upper East Side bakeries, you might want to find out where the closest Weight Watchers is. ------
Lorraine Duffy Merkl is a freelance writer in NYC and author of the novel, Back To Work She Goes
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