Our latest Quick Bites brings us to Bushwick to a cozy, under-the-radar bakery that serves sweets and savories.
From the outside, while strolling down Myrtle under the elevated M, you won't see many indications of the sweet delights waiting for you within L'imprimerie, a French bakery that opened here in June. Located across the street from that freestanding White Castle with the enormous parking lot, and sandwiched between a storefront church and the "CD and Cassette" store Jorgy's Things, L'imprimerie has no signage beyond a sidewalk chalkboard, and its most distinct piece of decor is an antique printing press by the window, a relic from the building's decades as a print shop.
Once inside, it's toasty and relaxed and smells like heaven. Because Monsieur Gus, as owner/baker Gus Reckel introduces himself in a deeply charming accent, is right now making some of the best breads and pastries in the city. You'll recognize Monsieur Gus instantly from the L'imprimerie logo, a tall man with a long beard, clothing dusted with flour, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes as he downplays his role in the creation of these mini masterpieces. "It is butter and sugar," he says. "How could it not be good?"
And the young men working the L'imprimerie counter are equally affable, chatting up regulars and patiently answering newcomers' questions. They are also the ones responsible for pulling the espressos and preparing the tartines, tasks at which they excel. If L'imprimerie were in the West Village (for example), the place would be mobbed; as it is, there's a steady stream of grateful Bushwickians eating in and taking out, with weekday afternoons dominated by laptop people.
On four consecutive days I made my way through a nice chunk of L'Imprimerie's impressively long and varied menu (Reckel does all the prepping and baking himself, seven days a week), and never ate anything less than amazing. The Almond Croissant was just ridiculous, a cloud of meringue erupting from the pastry, with plenty of room still for that gooey almond paste inside. The triple-layered Millionaire bar—there are multiple varieties of these beauties; I tried the one with the chocolate-covered espresso beans on top—is shockingly rich, the shortbread, the caramel, and the dark chocolate all cranked up full blast. And the Chocolate Chip Cookie is chewy and dense and so thick with chips that they threaten to overwhelm, but just barely don't.
There are savory options at L'imprimerie as well, including several quiches—the zucchini and goat cheese one was terrific, even heated up hours later at home, the crust all buttery, the interior creamy and tangy—and a tempting slate of tartines. More than an excellent excuse to eat thick, warm, dripping-with-butter slices of Reckel's superb bread, these open-face sandwiches are well composed using hyper-fresh ingredients. I had the cured ham with tomato (and mustard and butter), the avocado with smoked salmon, and, best of all, the Meaux, the sourdough toast here topped with a beautiful creamy brie, plenty of butter (of course), and honey collected from the rooftops of New York City.
Saturday is the only day Monsieur Gus makes his Fougasse, which is basically his great sourdough "shaped like a leaf" and stuffed with Kalamata olives. This did not last long back at the ol' homestead. And if you arrive at L'imprimerie on a weekend morning, and Reckel brings out a tray of his thickly-iced, sticky-sweet Cinnamon Buns, well... you know what to do. One of these and cup of the shop's Brooklyn-roasted Parlor Coffee will send you flying into your day.
If you live in the neighborhood and hadn't noticed that L'imprimerie existed, congratulations! You have one of the city's best bakeries right there, ready to serve you massive amounts of delicious carbs and coffee all winter long. And for those of us who are slightly more removed from the excitement—the shop is about two blocks from L and M Myrtle-Wyckoff station—the magic of Monsieur Gus is well worth a pilgrimage.
L'imprimerie is located at 1524 Myrtle Avenue between Gates Avenue and Linden Street, and is open every day from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (No phone; limprimerie.us)