Mood LightingAt first when you walk into Tisserie, the new pastry shop at the northwest corner of Union Square, it seems like another high-end traditional French patisserie. A seemingly endless, gleaming glass case displays rows of impeccably crafted sweets: berry tartlets, macaroons, palmiers. But tucked among the croissants and pains au chocolat are little surprises, pastries made with French technique yet unheard of in Paris. There are tiger eyes (little round spongy cakes spotted through with chocolate and topped with a generous round of dark ganache), chococitron (a similar cake but in a mini-bundt form and soaked in a tangy syrup), and coquitos (filled with coconut). These are hints at the cafe’s Venezuelan origin. The owners, Ronald and Morris Harrar, have based the place on their shop in Caracas. The variety they’ve injected to the art of pastry is just enough to reawaken your sweet tooth. On the savory side, there are lovely sandwiches and quiches (whose flavors are indicated by perfect garnishes). One standout is the cold avocado and lime soup. It’s surprisingly light, like a liquid mousse, if such a thing could be, and it would be worthy of a fancy amuse-bouche at a three-star restaurant (which kind of helps explain its whopping $5.50 price tag).

If you want to linger, there’s seating at an upstairs mezzanine, which is like a more airy version of the setup at nearby City Bakery. Adorning the staircase is a cascade of bubble-like brown lamps that rise from the coffee station below like some hallucination from an espresso-fueled trip. The barista, and his flowing locks, are not to be missed either. But the service overall is not what it should be. You may order a salad at the pastry counter only to be told when you reach the register that they have run out of the kind you wanted. The other day a customer who asked for Splenda (which is kind of despicable) was just given a shrug. And the signs hash language in a way a Frenchman would find insupportable: “Leak Quiche,” “Rugallah,” and “Longue de Chat.” But its annoyances can be forgiven, especially in light of the shop’s audacity in opening across the street from a Starbucks. We can take a lesson from the City of Lights—let’s have a different patisserie on every block instead of a chain charbucks.