Levain Bakery is not one of New York's best kept secrets. They currently sit in the second spot on Trip Advisor's list of New York Restaurants, which has led to people having the wrong impression of the place. It is in no way, shape or form a restaurant. If you went there with the impression that you were going to get a restaurant or even a sit-down cafe I can see how you would be annoyed. There are some negative comments out there about the bakery based on this, and to me that isn't fair.
Levain Bakery is small and well-visited by both visitors and locals. Everything is baked fresh daily and anything that doesn't sell is donated to help feed the hungry at the end of the day.
You go down a small set of stone stairs to enter, and this morning when I visited there were two adorable little dogs parked out the front. Inside, there are perhaps four or five stalls that you can sit in, and they serve coffee as well as baked goods. Roomy it isn't. A restaurant? Certainly not. Why then is it rated so highly?
Most people comment on the cookies from this place, and after trying one I completely understand why. At $4 each they might seem a bit expensive but when you see the size of them the price is certainly justified. They are huge mountains. They are the Everest of cookies. They are so big that they almost deserve their own special name - not quite a cookie, not quite a brownie. A brokie? A crownie?
Due to their size you get to enjoy two different textures when you eat. The first is encountered when you're biting around the edges. It's crunchy and tastes extremely sugary (the chocolate chip walnut one I had this morning was, anyway). From these first few nibbles around the edges I didn't quite understand what all the fuss was about.
It's when you get to the centre of the cookies that you encounter a softer texture. It's a bit more mushy as you get to the thickest section of cookie. This is when you hit wow-town. The one I had this morning was still slightly warm inside and the choc chips were a bit runny and melted. Delicious. About half-way through I considered stopping and saving some for later but it tasted so good I decided to just keep on going.
It's now been over six hours since I ate that huge mound of cookie, and I still haven't eaten anything else.
My partner had already tried the peanut butter dark chocolate chip cookie the other day and decided to have this flavour again. The bite I had was good and the peanut butter flavour is nowhere near as strong as I was expecting. He said that you get a hit of it every now and then but it isn't overpowering. The inside of his cookie wasn't as soft as mine but still gave the two textures that I spoke about.
Other things on offer at the bakery include crunchy pizzas and a large range of breads, but I think it's mainly the cookies that keep people coming back. If I ever feel the need to eat again I'll be back. Perhaps I'll try the oatmeal and raisin cookie or the chocolate choc chip next time.