It’s so nice when you wander around your slice of the city and discover new little eateries with yummy little snacks. After picking up some cranberry pecan bread from the farmer’s market this morning, I happened upon the 2+ month-old Gusto Organics and the not-yet 2 week-old Royale Café on Sixth Avenue.
Inside Gusto, I was torn between a pastelera, a modest-sized pastry with a vanilla cream in the center, and a madgalena, a traditional Argentine sandwich cookie. I must have appeared to be in agony because the incredibly nice guy behind the counter gave me 2 for 1 since it was my first visit. Just what I need.
The pastelera was 10x better than I ever expected. I bit into while on my way out of the restaurant (which is really calm, airy and lovely), and threw my head back. The pastry looks like one of the those crunchy, bland, boring numbers, but is actually moist, chewy and loaded with that sweet almond/vanilla flavor. Heaven. But here’s where it gets embarrassing. I dropped the pastelera on the sidewalk and was too smitten to throw it away. That’s right. I picked it up from the sidewalk and still ate it. I’m disgusting. (But it was so good!)
The madgalena, I wasn’t as crazy about (crazy, apparently, being the operative word). The sandwich part of the cookie is a bit dry and crumbly — not my favorite flavor or texture. But the inside is thickly spread with dulce de leche: a soft, melty caramel that can and should be licked right off the biscuit.
Further south on Sixth Ave, my eye was drawn to a hot pink wall inside a triangular storefront that used to be part of Sammy’s Noodles. It’s now Royale Café, a brand new coffee and pastry shop part owned by Baked’s Rafi Avramovitz. Whereas most bakeries seem to be duking it out for the most over-the-top proportions and wackiest flavors, these fellows have it figured out. Just give us a portion that indulges our sweet tooth but doesn’t make us feel sick and bloated afterwards.
I sampled their Oreo cookie and chocolate-chip pumpkin bread, both of which were moist and sweet. You can choose between a crunchier cookie-like Oreo or a softer, cakier version (smart). Other treats include Baked’s brownies and cookies, along with cinnamon buns, scones and cupcakes that skew small. The folks behind the counter here were incredibly nice, too, (what is with everyone??) so you just might want to sit in the window with a Gimme coffee and wait to see what else comes to the neighborhood.