July 11, 2003
Time Out New York Annual Guide Eating & Drinking 2003
Levain may mean “leaven” in French, but this bakery, in the basement of an Upper West Side brownstone, is decidedly down-to-earth. With a warm atmosphere full of yeasty aromas, Levain doesn’t try to be all sweets to all people; it limits itself to a small, expertly made assortment. The bakers understand that there’s more to pastry than sweetness and allow other flavors to share center stage, most notably butter, cinnamon, fabulous raspberry jam and deep dark chocolate. If you order a cookie (one with peanut butter and chocolate chips, perhaps), you won’t have room for anything else – the dense, moist mounds weigh a hefty six ounces apiece. Pace yourself by starting with a crisp, single-serving sourdough pizza (such as artichoke-Gruyere or kalamata olive and goat cheese), and be sure to take home a loaf of superb bread. If you must choose only one item, it should be Levain’s version of pain au chocolat, a sturdy, chewy roll filled with a generous chunk of bitter Valrhona chocolate. Cookies are available by mail order, and Hamptonites will be happy to know that Levain has a second location in Wainscott.
November 11, 2002
July 11, 2000
Time Out New York Annual Guide Eating & Drinking 2000
Since 1995, Levain Bakery has been attracting the cookie cognescenti with what some say is the best chocolate chip cookie in the city. Customers hang out to chat with the staff or sit outside on a bench while devouring a dark-chocolate-chocolate-chip, dark-chocolate-peanut-butter chip or oatmeal-raisin-cookie. Now that word is out, Levain ships gift packages all over the country. As good as the desserts are, don’t overlook the sourdough, light semolina and whole-wheat loaves, focaccia or baguettes. Once you’ve been to Levain, you’ll wish there were one in your neighborhood too.