June 23, 2014

Levain Bakery { NYC }

If the Oreo is America's favorite cookie (now, Milk's favorite cookie), the chocolate chip cookie is America's best friend.  And the tiny, below-street level bakery located in the Upper West Side of New York City* that produces the queen mother of all chocolate chip cookies is none other than Levain Bakery.

* Now Levain has two other locations: (1) Harlem and (2) the Hamptons, neither of which are (sadly) easier to reach than the UWS.

The space is tiny.  I honestly don't think more than 10 people can stand inside at a given time without creating a safety hazard.  But the staff acts quickly to move things along and get their customers what they want in a no-nonsense manner.  Welcome to New York City.

A few sandwich, scone, and bread options, but let's be honest -- I'm here for the cookies.

Looks tasty... but where are the cookies?


After you barely survive the ordering, paying, and fleeing, you will open up your bag or box and be greeted by this monstrous-sized thing.  Is this even a cookie?!

Seriously, scone or cookie?

Whether it's a scone or a cookie, you will stop caring as soon as you take a bite.
Holy moly.
The cookie/ scone (scookie?) is slightly flaky and crispy on the outside and slightly under-baked and gooey on the inside.  Overall, it's ridiculously decadent.  A few bites will go a long way, but nibbling it during your walk through Central Park will bring a lasting chocolate-stained smile.

Oatmeal Raisin.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter.

Dark Chocolate, Chocolate Chip.

Classic Chocolate Chip.

Here're some things you ought to know before you go taste these 6-oz. cookies with sky-high  expectations:

  • These cookies are priced at $4/ pop.  In other words, ain't cheap.
  • These cookies, and the bakery, are owned/ started by two former triathaloners and avid athletes, Pam Weekes and Connie McDonald.  Weekes and McDonald used to eat these cookies to fuel for race day!
  • The average weight of a single cookie is 6 oz. (!)
  • Neither of them went to culinary or pastry school.
  • But both are incredibly dedicated and committed to their business (hence its success).
  • There are plenty of other delicious treats produced at the bakery, including scones and baguette with butter & jam.  Full menu here.
  •  They have a Levain Cam, which is both funny and creepy at the same time.
  • I love that the owners embrace healthy activities, but acknowledge the importance that eating in moderation, not DIEts, are key.  { interview }
  • Some inspiration: 
    • What advice would you offer women who want to start their own businesses? Trust your instincts and follow your heart, even if it doesn’t always seem logical. Be patient and don’t give up, persistence pays off if you truly believe in what you’re doing. And, of course, be prepared to work harder than you ever thought possible. We always say the bakery is the Ironman of our lives. - Pam Weekes

Levain Bakery on Urbanspoon

cuisine: Bakery
location: Upper West Side, NYC (on 74th btwn Columbus & Amsterdam)
nearest subway stations: 72nd St (on 1, 2, 3)
hours: Mon-Sat: 8am-7pm; Sun: 9am-7pm
websites: { LB | yelp | facebook | twitter | instagram }
notes: Good for take-away; not much room for sit down munching.  Thick, massive cookies, but worth every eventual bite.


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