I thank goodness everyday that Bakehouse, the consummate neighborhood restaurant and bakery, operates directly across the street from me. Since it opened a year or two ago, it’s difficult to find an excuse to eat elsewhere when I revert to Lazy Erin and I can’t find any better nearby spot for breads and croissants. Bakehouse is perfect for any occasion, and I don’t just say that because I live conveniently a few yards away. On weekends it’s a cozy brunch spot with a mushroom, truffle, and asiago omelette and crispy ricotta pancakes; everyday of the week it’s a cozy setting for cappuccino + chocolate brioche laptop sessions, a vibrant spot for bar-seating and cocktails, and a bakery calling my name for that regrettable post-dinner cookie or chocolate-almond croissant. Bakehouse has also created the perfect cabin-like set up for a low key dinner with good music and comforting food. So after a day in the cold rain and the face breakout of the century, I couldn’t imagine a better, darker place to meet my co-workers.
I wouldn’t expect such a homey place like Bakehouse to have the inventive cocktail menu that it does, but it’s the number one reason I go here. The restaurant is full of high tops and bar seating, perfect for the many solo neighborhood diners or the ladies desperately looking to strike up a conversation with the cute (and wonderfully kind) Australian bartender. Last night, though, my friends and I sat at a four-top, stuck to wine and focused on the food. We started with a truffled mac and cheese that was to die for. Just as I am with Stouffer’s, after years of eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, it’s tough to be impressed by the real deal (same thing with brownies – Duncan Hines is just so much better than homemade), but Bakehouse scored big time with this one. The flat dish maximized the surface area for crispy, cheesy crust and each penne piece was coated with thick, truffley white cheese. We paired that with another healthy appetizer of fried ham and manchego croquettes, a pickled beet salad, and salmon tartare. The croquettes are essentially fried balls of mashed potatoes, so a little more texture would have made these pretty addictive. The salad was just fine, but essential with the surrounding food. the salmon tartare was delicious spread on a thin crostini, but I could have done without random bites of grapefruit. For our next round of food, we had the serrano ham with rustique toasted baguette that came doused in a garlicky saffron aioli. I am a die hard mayonnaise-hater but this was actually delicious, with bread toasted just enough to allow for easy crunching.
When the dessert menu came out, my friend exclaimed “how can a place call themselves Bakehouse but have only three options for dessert?!” I agreed, but I know for a fact that the pastry chef, Walter, recently left. The abundance of cookies has also been looking pretty weak these days. We asked the manager who came by to ask us about our meal, and he said they were working on a few new items (possibly an ice cream sandwich!), and that not to fear, more options are in the near future. That satisfied us enough to order two out of the three – a tart tatin, and some ridiculously good vanilla ice cream profiteroles doused in dark chocolate. I sucked those puppies down pretty quickly – it doesn’t get much better than warm chocolate fudge. I was so full by the time I left, I couldn’t even taste the cookies that the owner kindly gave us on our way out.
Bakehouse has a little work to do on some of its food, but with the menu, the atmosphere, and the service considered, I absolutely love this airy, wooden tavern. And now that it has outdoor seating looking onto the Hudson River (and a truck lot), I have no doubt that this will be my go-to for all seasons.
Location: 113 Horatio Street @ West Street
Website (which sadly needs a style upgrade)