Bryant Park is surrounded by tall office buildings filled with caffeinated professionals, so it’s no surprise that 41st Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues has become coffee central. A cup of coffee here is done differently — with cake, chocolate and caramel. With luck you can snag a spot at Bryant Park and watch the world go by; or grab your boss a macchiato and earn yourself calorie-free brownies.
Lady M’s all white, clean window displays of tortes and cakes can break any dieter’s resolutions. Its power-clad clientele may have structured many complex mergers but when it comes to forking into the dreamy, creamy, caramelized 20-layered mille crepe cake, even discerning foodies are humbled. By popular demand, the mille crepe is now available in green tea, coconut, chocolate, marrón and strawberry. If you can’t commit to a whole cake, mille crepe cakes are available by the slice in limited flavors at the café. Coffee is served with a firm peak of froth that maintains its structure even after a few gulps.
Le Pain Quotidien Midtown is the chain’s busiest location. Organic and artisanal, the menu presents a compelling number of healthy bakery options accompanied by a damn good cappuccino. Equally tempting is the spiced organic hot chocolate, which pairs well with a detox quinoa salad if you are counting those pesky calories. The pistachio tart weighs in at 710 calories, but begs for attention and competes voraciously with the apricot almond tart. Beware of the quick coffee run here — it can turn into a meal.
Royce is the newest confectionery on the block with no direct street entrance. Like all things Japanese, it’s a little mysterious and done to perfection: packaging that looks edible, tiramisu-flavored wafers that look like potato chips, and flavored almonds that dazzle the taste buds. Favorites include the sweet and savory potato chocolate caramel wafers and the NAMA chocolate au lait, although other varieties can easily become addictions.
Zeytinz, a staple in the area, has been providing good coffee for years with pastry options that are quick, tasty and reasonably priced. Though the café offers seating on the upper level, take your food outside and sit in Bryant Park under the trees.
Maison Kayser has Europeanized our coffee breaks. Bread is back in favor — at least this kind of bread. Delicate financiers and palmiers provide mouthfuls of decadence and inspire unwavering loyalty. Apple tarts and éclairs, galettes and petit citron cakes feel airy and innocent and are practically portioned — too small to share, too large to have in one bite.