If you've tried a baguette from Maison Kayser, you may have been ruined for almost all other baguettes. The crust is crunchy, the center flavorful and smell is so intoxicating that I'll get out of the subway 13 blocks early so I can buy one at the Columbus Circle location and bring it home. But now on Thursday, a Maison Kayser bakery and cafe is opening up on Broadway at West 76th Street, which means delicious baguettes, savory breads and decadent pastries will be oh so dangerously close to me.
Since the first Maison Kayser was introduced on the Upper East Side in 2012, the brand has expanded across Manhattan. It's become has quickly become extremely popular, thanks to its international following—Eric Kayser has dozens of locations in France and about 120 around the world—and its terrific product. I've seen people get into arguments over the remaining baguettes at Columbus Circle and the Bryant Park location is being expanded to have 4,500-square-foot seating area with 160 seats. This latest one on the Upper West Side is much more intimate with just 48 seats—but the ovens are the same, ready to offer continuously fresh baked artisanal breads all day.
Yann Ledoux, the Executive Head Baker of Maison Kayser USA, took some time ahead of the opening to show us the Upper West Side location. A huge industrial oven and proofers can be seen on the first floor, while the preparation of dough takes place in the basement kitchen. (Formerly an Italian restaurant and, before that, a Greek restaurant, the space had to be reinforced for all of the baking equipment.)
Ledoux has worked with Eric Kayser for nearly 10 years, mostly in Paris with a two-year stint in Dubai, and is in charge of making sure all six New York locations have the same high quality of bread that customers would get in Paris. For instance, as the weather gets colder or if the weather is more humid and damp, baking times for breads get adjusted. And breads with higher sugar content, like a bread with Mission figs, is baked closer to the front of the oven, so they can take them out earlier.
Taking out baguettes with the peel @maisonkayserusa
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The bakery also has ethereal-looking pastries—tarts, eclairs and other desserts—and an extensive viennoiserie selection (the chocolate financier is out of this world) while the cafe serves full meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A new fall dinner menu, from former Le Cirque chef Olivier Reginensi offers dishes like Burrata & Figues Violettes (Arugula salad with Burrata & fresh Mission figs) and Parmentier de Canard (a duck leg shepherd pie) for appetizers and entrees such as Pâtes au Homard (pasta with Maine lobster and wild mushrooms) and Tartine de Champignons & Onions Doux (a fall mushroom & onion tartine with Gruyère cheese).
Kayser proudly emphasized how they only use the best organic ingredients and no preservatives. Tartines are important to Kayser, because before people had plates, they used bread to hold their food; he just wants to bring delicious "simple food" to customers. And nothing makes him happier than seeing customers break into a warm baguette they just bought and sharing it with others, "It's why we're introducing our bread here."
I carried a baguette out with me in a Maison Kayser bag. One woman I ran into on Broadway stopped me and said with great urgency, "Is it open yet?" Tomorrow, I said, then I asked if she was excited for the bakery. She nodded, "I lived across from an Eric Kayser bakery in Paris—I can't wait!"
Maison Kayser at 2161 Broadway opens on Thursday, November 6, at 7 a.m.