Note: First Looks give previews of new dishes, drinks, and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
Note: This venue is now closed, but you can still find Beurre & Sel at La Marqueta in Harlem and online.
"Kiss your father for me!" Dorie Greenspan said to her son and business partner Joshua before he went off to run some errands. That should give you an idea of what it's like at Beurre & Sel, her new cookie shop in the Essex Street Market (with a second location in Harlem's La Marqueta, near the company kitchen). You'll find, of course, the beloved cookies from Greenspan cookbooks, lined up with geometric precision on slabs of marble. But if she's on-site, which she is often, you'll also get Dorie's smiling face, chat with her, and maybe receive a hug. All in a stall as wide as the average person's wingspan.
Dorie has done temporary cookie shops a few times before, but Beurre & Sel (French for butter and salt) is here to stay, open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (6 p.m. on Sunday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday in Harlem). About a dozen types of cookies are available, some in large 3-inch rounds sold solo, others that are smaller and sold in pre-packed stacks. The large cookies range in price from $2 to $3.25 ($3.75 for the chubby Chocolate Chunker); you'll pay $10 for stacks of 14 smaller ones.
The fan favorites—World Peace Cookies, Jammers, classic vanilla sablés—are present and accounted for, along with more unusual offerings like coconut-lime sablés and a savory rosemary-Parmesan cookie.
"Each cookie has its own personality," Dorie says, unable to pick a favorite. "They're not timid. And they're just like I'd bake them at home." Which raises the question of why such a celebrated cookbook author, whose work is based on writing as much as cooking, would want to deal with the craziness of owning a retail shop. "Being a cookbook author is a very prescribed life," she answers. "I work, I bake, and then I write about what I bake."
But out in the field, she gets to interact with everyday customers, fans and otherwise, in one of New York's white-hot food neighborhoods. "This is a great neighborhood—so many people here love food, and it's so great to meet them!"
The retail move is also thanks to her son Joshua, who first envisioned the company and is a major partner along with Daniel Seehoff on the business end. What's it like working with her son? "It's been remarkable—we were lucky to have such a special relationship. We've really learned so much about each other; I've seen him work in ways I never knew he could. I'm super proud—and I still like him!"
Dorie talked us through her cookies; check them out in the slideshow.
Beurre & Sel
Also at La Marqueta 1590 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10029 (map)