Monday, March 10, 2008

Danger on the UWS

Cupcake, cupcake, chocolate, cocoa, cookie, cookie.

Within a very concentrated area of the Upper West Side are a number of pitfalls for a trying-to-be-good Sweet Freak. Magnolia’s second branch is in a sprawling corner space at Columbus and 69th, awash with sunlight, packed with baby strollers, and churning out bake sheets of pastel cupcakes. They seem a wee bit smaller than the ones downtown, but anything is worth not enduring that god-awful line.

Onward to 72nd Street, walking west—boom: Buttercup Bake Shop. More cupcakes. But not much atmosphere, so it’s time to carry on. (Though it’s worth noting that Krispy Kreme used to inhabit this very same location. Bonus points for the auspiciously sweet heritage.)

Jacques Torres’s new outpost is on Amsterdam, between 73rd and 74th. It’s smaller than his Soho factory, but bigger than his original Dumbo shop, and they’ve smartly tucked a few cushy seats in by the windows so you can snack in-house. The truffles are piled high, the cocoa bar is fired up, and there are some new treats to behold: chocolate-covered lemon pound cake, for one.

And on to the grand finale: around the corner to Levain for whopper cookies. It seems more crowded these days, but it still has the allure of a subterranean hole-in-the-wall that just so happens to have the best cookies in the city. Or at least the heaviest. Seriously: 6 ounces of chocolate-studded goodness. Cookie monsters.

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