It started with the apple dumpling. Early one morning, I passed a bakery on 13th Street and stopped to look through the glass windows. There was a tray filled with muffins on one end, scones on the other, and little square pockets in the middle. Curious, I turned in and purchased one of the square pockets. They turned out to be apple dumplings—and they were still warm, glory be.
I nestled the little pocket in my hand and scooted off to find a bench. There, I slipped the dumpling out of its paper bag and started munching away, breaking though the buttery shell to find sweet apple wedges kissed with cinnamon. It was absolutely lovely—delicate, almost precious.
The bakery was Thé Adoré, a Japanese restaurant and bakery with seating upstairs and a takeout area downstairs. Here, American and European sweets are given the Japanese touch—smaller, lighter, prettier, if you will. Baked goods usually come out around 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., so arrive between those times if you must have croissants warm from the oven, or a hot morning quiche. The sweets—including crème brûlée, berry pies, and apple, plum, peach, and pear tarts—come a bit later, about 10 a.m.
Croissants, in plain, chocolate or almond, are just one of the morning offerings. They would not be classified as buttery, but fit in the department of crisp and flaky, shattering without notice at the first bite. The croissants are tightly rolled, and are the most orderly, most organized looking croissant I have seen. In the almond croissant, almond cream is brushed with a restrained hand into the perfectly split croissant—nothing oozes over, nothing spills out. If I hadn't eaten it myself, I would have certainly thought it to be a model.
Coconut cookies are most curious—utterly flat and unbashfully crunchy. Imagine a handful of toasted coconut flakes bound together by eggs, sugar, some flour, and pressed tight down as flat as possible. The end result is this cookie, golden to the edge of burnt and oddly addictive. It's also awesome with hot tea.
Madeleines, piled high in a glass jar, have room for improvement. As they are now, Adore’s madeleine are nothing but plain yellow cakes, erring on the bland and dry side, baked in the shape of a madeleine. You’re best off with the golden, high humped wonders at Oro, home of the best bakery madeleines in Manhattan.
Much better than the madeleines are the financiers, made with browned butter and a wealth of almond flour. It's just the slightest touch crunchy on the surface, sinking into a dark, nutty, and lightly sweetened crumb.
Fruit tarts, which come with apple, pear, peach, or plum, are filled with a layer of marzipan, more nutty than sweet, and are topped with said choice of fruit and a simple glaze to seal. Unfortunately, the crust is a weak point‐firm and solid where it should be buttery and crisp.
On the savory end, selections of dainty sandwiches are also offered in the morning. There was a trio of choices on the day I went: ham and brie on baguette; hard boiled egg, tomato, and watercress on a roll; or smoked turkey and watercress on a baguette. I went with the latter, the fillings neatly laid about and composed upon a mini baguette, wrapped in wax paper. Even if not exciting in taste, these sandwiches are seriously the most adorable sight. Adorable in such a way that the Japanese could only achieve. Many a repeat customer came in for one sandwich and a cup of coffee to go. Now that’s a basic breakfast combo I could do every day.
The quiches are ten million times more delicious straight from the oven, and it would be worth waking up an extra hour or so earlier to score one. Their fillings are light and delicate in that same manner of all their goods: gentle and mild in flavor. But, like the fruit tarts, the shells would benefit from plenty more butter—at the moment they are bland and taste of little more than flour.
17 East 13th Street, New York, NY 10003 (map) 212-243-8742
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