On Wednesday evening, at a party for the new Breads Bakery now open on the Upper East Side, owner Gadi Peleg was beaming. "I couldn't be more excited to come to the Upper East Side," he told Gothamist. "We started in Union Square [in 2013], then opened on the Upper West Side, and now we're on the Upper East Side, and if you draw a line connecting those three, it feels like we're giving a big hug to Manhattan, to New York City, the city that I love."
The new outpost takes over the large space on Third Avenue that was home to Maison Kayser for almost a decade before that bakery chain closed all of its locations early in the pandemic. And, of course, the neighborhood lost the legendary, 116-year-old Glaser's in 2018, so Breads has a pretty big hole to fill in these parts—with that in mind, the bakery is finally offering a version of an NYC icon: the Black & White cookie.
"We're a block away from where Glaser's used to be, famous for their Black & Whites," said Peleg. "I am no historian, but all of the research that I've done suggests that they likely invented that cookie. There's some idea that maybe it came from Germany a hundred or so years ago, but in Germany they're called Amerikaners, so likely they came from here to there, and my guess is that Glaser's is where it all started. And we're so thrilled to be able to bring those cookies back to this neighborhood."
The Breads version of the Black & White is both innovative and delicious. Instead of the often too dry and cakey base, Breads uses flaky laminated dough as its foundation, like a croissant, with buttery, slightly salty breton cookies nestled within. A vanilla-bean glaze creates the white side, and the black side gets its color from dark cocoa powder in the dough, and chocolate chips in the cookie. It's a tricky thing to mess around with an icon, but Breads really nailed it here.
The Black & White is only available at the new UES location, as is their other new take on a New York bakery classic, the Marble Rye. This is less a reworking and more of an upgrade to the usual mass-produced loaves, and it's lovely, with a crackling outer crust, soft chewy interior, and plenty of tang to complement whatever else you put on it.
It's worth noting that both of the new items performed crucial cameos on episodes of Seinfeld, so you'll probably get Jerry saying "look to the cookie" stuck in your head when you're here.
In addition to these Upper East Side exclusives, the new spot features all the usual Breads bangers, including Chocolate Rugelach, Chocolate Babka, Cheese Sticks, Poppy Challahs, and special holiday offerings like the upcoming Thanksgiving pies and Hanukkah Sufganiyot. Peleg said he's not putting seating inside just yet, but there is a well-heated curbside dining area out on Third Avenue for to-stay orders, and a full coffee program to keep you even warmer.
Peleg has plans to further expand the Breads mini-chain, including an outpost coming to Rockefeller Center in the new year. "I'm so thrilled to be able to take what I believe is a positive bet on the city that I love,” he said. "All of this was born of the pandemic, and while there was some doubt as to the future of Manhattan, and there were some debates as to the viability of this city, my love for my hometown never wavered for one second. This is the greatest place on earth. This city will always, always come back."
The Upper East Side Breads Bakery is located at 1294 Third Avenue, between 74th and 75th Streets, and is currently open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily (212-633-BAKE; breadsbakery.com)