Silver Moon Bakery
Our winner had the testers’ preferred flavor (which tracked overall score quite closely) and scored in the top 3 for both crumb and taste texture. It got called out for its “great soft interior and hole structure,” and though some found it “slightly bland,” most noted that there was “no off taste,” which many breads suffered from; “good, balanced taste” seemed to be the general consensus. It wasn’t a knockout winner, but it was a solid baguette.
“This is what I think of as a baguette: good chew, but not making your jaw hurt; not dense, but with a nice body.” That summed up the tasters’ opinion of Bouchon’s baguette, another straightforward crowd-pleaser. It was called out for its “good stretch,” “just chewy enough,” and “simple flavor.” Some found it a bit airy or sour, but it earned the highest marks for crust (“nice and crackly”) and the second-highest for taste.
Sullivan Street Bakery
Sullivan Street doesn’t call this a baguette (it’s a stirato) and we deliberated over whether to include it; however, it looks like a baguette, has the crust and airy interior of a baguette, and in the end, we couldn’t leave one of New York’s most reputed bakeries out of a taste-test when they had a very similar loaf. And we’re glad we did, as it earned the third-highest marks overall. “The outside tastes a bit charred,” many noted, some liking the crustiness, some thinking it a bit much. “The interior is very stretchy,” others noted, “in a good way.” It came in just behind Bouchon in the crust department, and its “complex, awesome flavor” earned it third place.
“Nice airy crumb, great crust.” “I love how the crust is just chewy enough.” While not everyone loved the sourness of Tom Cat’s bread (though some did), just about everyone agreed on the “nice air bubbles” (it came in first for crumb texture) and “good inside-outside texture contrast.”
“I like the interior stretch,” said some tasters, though others found it “gummy” or “doughy”; “decent crust” seemed to be the consensus. While Almondine placed in the middle of the pack as far as texture, its taste scored much higher, with many tasters liking the “gentle, mellow sweetness.”
Almondine Bakery: DUMBO and Park Slope Locations; www.almondinebakery.com
Le Pain Quotidien
The tasters who liked Le Pain Quotidien appreciated its crust, “firm and chewy but not at all tough,” though others found it a bit overbaked; some liked its “simple, mellow flavor,” whereas others called it “a bit bland.” Still, there are worse things. “I would totally serve this with wine and cheese,” wrote one taster, and others seemed to agree: though not everyone loved this baguette, almost no one had any major criticism of it.
Eli's was another loaf that wasn’t loved, but wasn’t really criticized. Some liked it for being “chewy and mild,” and others noted that there’s “not much of a crackly crust,” “Safe but sort of boring,” wrote one taster, and others agreed: “Absolutely acceptable, but not memorable.”
With a “pretty good crust” but a “slightly doughy,” “somewhat gummy” interior, Bouley Studio’s baguette had a “decent, mild flavor” that pulled it up in the pack.
Bouley Studio: 130 W. Broadway, New York NY 10013 (map)
Despite a “beautiful hole structure,” this baguette may have been a bit past its prime: “a little tough” and “maybe stale?” were a few representative comments. Still, the “great crumb” led many to think it a pretty solid pick.
“Light insides, which I like. Very lightweight.” “I really like the crumb.” Grandaisy’s also-not-quite-a-baguette was a little too crusty in baguette context, but the nice crumb and interior flavor still won high marks. On its own terms, this is bread we’d enjoy if we wanted something super-crusty.
Some tasters questioned the unorthodox wheatiness of this baguette, and others found the flavor “bland” or “undersalted” regardless; but it won big points on texture, tasters calling out the “nice crust and crumb” and “tender insides.”
“Squishy” isn’t a term we want applied to our baguettes, but more than one taster used it to describe Margot’s baguette. Some found the interior “light and sweet,” others felt it “lacked character,” but all were agreed on the need for a better crust.
Margot Patisserie: 2109 Broadway, New York, NY 10023 (on 74th Street; map); 212-721-0076
“Tough and a little hard to eat,” the baguette from Pain D'Avignon didn’t do as well as we would have expected. It was faulted for an overly stiff outer crust and an interior that was “chewy in an actually hard-to-chew way.”
“I wish the crust was crust-ier.” “Where’s the crust-to-crumb contrast?” Texture flaws and a “bland flavor” pulled this baguette down in our charts.