The original New York fancy-croissant innovator was Maury Rubin at his City Bakery near Union Square. The 29-year-old institution (it closed its doors a few months before the pandemic) was the birthplace of the iconic pretzel croissant. Debuting in 1996, it was a revelation, redefining a city staple, the Sabrett’s-cart soft pretzel, with a salty, sesame twist on the French classic.
The true age of New York pastry crazes came two decades later with the unveiling of the Cronut by Dominique Ansel in 2013 (his flavor of the month continues to draw crowds to his tiny Spring Street bakery). Since then, there’s been no shortage of croissant experimentation: In 2017, pastry chef Ry Stephen and his partner, Aron Tzimas, founded the Supermoon Bakehouse, which has an ever-changing selection of filled-to-bursting, toweringly topped croissants and croissant-muffin hybrids. Pandemic necessity brought us the tiny croissants eaten as cereal from L’Appartement 4F, a home bakery in Brooklyn (which expanded to a Kickstarter-backed storefront on Montague Street this past summer).
On March 31 of this year, the latest and arguably greatest entry in New York’s croissant craze was born when the Suprême was unveiled at the Lafayette Grand Café and Bakery in Noho. This tightly coiled, finely layered confection contains a flavored pastry cream, and its outer rim is generously dripped with a topping to match (in November, it was Bourbon Maple Nut with its Vermont maple “creemee” interior and garnishes of cranberry caramel and pecans).
There are three drops of 120 Suprêmes daily — at 8 a.m., noon, and 4 p.m. Each sells out within the hour with the herd of human sheep rounding the block in the hope of getting their hands on one.
Each year, a competition is held to determine which bakery has the best croissant in Paris and its environs. It is a serious matter and a prestigious prize. We would never do that. New York is not a city of perfectionists; we are a city that values ideas, laminated or otherwise. And for a population not known for its patience, it turns out we are overjoyed to wait in long lines for these innovations.
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