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The Best Bakeries Embrace Sweet and Savory

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Much to my dentist’s dismay, I love sweets. A meal simply doesn’t feel complete without something sugary at the end, and many a 3 p.m. slump has been avoided with a well-timed cookie. A few weeks ago, a waiter called my group her favorite table after we ordered the entire dessert menu.

But I understand that not everyone is about the sweet(s) life. This makes the case for compromise: Where can a person who loves dessert and someone who prefers salty and savory bites meet in the middle without either feeling underrepresented? Well, I’ve got a few recommendations. …

A lot of the city’s best bakeries start with feverish word-of-mouth. That’s how I discovered Radio Bakery in Greenpoint, which began its life as a roving pop-up from the pastry chef Kelly Mencin before finally settling into a permanent home on India Street.

The brick-and-mortar bakery can only be described as the pop-up on steroids. They don’t just serve croissants, they serve triple chocolate croissants made with cocoa powder and Valrohna chocolate, and a danish-inspired take on the croissant filled with seasonal ingredients like apples from New York orchards or satsuma oranges. There’s also non-croissant options like gluten-free brown-butter corn cake, chewy chocolate chunk cookies and Earl Grey morning buns.

If you don’t like starting your morning off on a sugar high, there’s a tight but well-considered breakfast menu of sandwiches served on housemade focaccia. I recommend going for the dill-y smoked salmon tucked inside a slice of everything spice focaccia. After 11 a.m., there are hearty sandwiches that would do nicely at a springtime picnic in Transmitter Park — just 26 days to go! — including a roast beef and radicchio sandwich on focaccia, and a Brie and caramelized onion sandwich on baguette-like walnut and sour cherry stirato.

Speaking of spring, once we start getting some consistently warm days, I’m going to reinstate my morning walks to Otway Bakery in Clinton Hill. My go-to order is a whole milk latte, a sticky-sweet kouign-amann sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds to eat on the walk back home, and a classic croissant for later. But if I were forced to compromise with someone who prefers a savory start to the day, I’d just go to the original Otway, a few doors down. There you can find a small selection of the bakery goods (croissants, coffee cake, morning buns, cardamom buns), along with avocado toast, Gruyère omelets and a spicy fried chicken sandwich.

Or I would simply ask this hypothetical sweets-hater to meet me at the months-old Frenchette Bakery at the Whitney Museum. If we met there any time after 10:30 a.m. — perhaps for a power lunch or a well-earned personal day — I would order the croustillant filled with biting lemon curd or the breakfast cookie with almond butter and dried cherries, which proves my point that cookies are a 24/7 food. Those sweets alongside the flower-shaped mortadella planted in a bed of puff pastry with a poached egg center, or the king oyster sandwich with broccoli rabe and ricotta, would be perfection. (There are also pizz’ettes, pastas and full-bodied entrees if you want something more substantial.)

And if you time your visit just right, you could spent the afternoon taking in the 2024 Whitney Biennial (March 20 through fall 2024) and bask in other, decidedly nonedible works of art.


Since 2005, I’ve been obsessed with the animated epic, “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” Was I in high school when it premiered on Nickelodeon? Sure. But the balance of humor, action and fantasy with explorations of grief, death and regret always made “Avatar” feel more grown-up. Perhaps you’ll join me in watching the new live action adaptation of the show, which premieres on Netflix today.


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