Levain Bakery: Cookies for Lunch


An oatmeal raisin cookie

Sunday was slated to be a 50-mile bike ride day, or that was what was hit back and forth over the gmail net with my friend Dan. We had also talked about going to a few different bakeries. I know, after a big day of biking, this is the way my mind works: where will I get dessert?

Despite the forecast of rain, and gray skies, we rode to the West Side Highway and headed north. At the Fairway Market, at 125th Street, I saw that the bike path was closed so we turned around and headed south, and then east to Central Park to bike a few laps. I felt a few sprinkles, I showed no fear.

After a lap we stopped by the Delacorte Theatre (home of Shakespeare in the Park). My friend, not a frequent rider, suggested we head over to Levain Bakery. I had heard about Levain: about the giant-sized cookies that could last for days, the line (what else is new), and just the utter decadence of it all.

When we arrived there was a queue. I clip-clopped over in my bike shoes, tented my hands and peered in the window. Nothing in the bakery case looked like a cookie, what I saw, or what I thought I saw, were things that looked like scones. My friend assured me they were cookies. (You tell me, what do you think they look like?) We ordered one of each of the four kinds, and a piece of banana chocolate chip bread, for good measure. The bag holding the cookies felt like it weighed four pounds despite the websites claim that each cookie weighs only six ounces.


Oatmeal raisin, peanut butter chocolate chip, chocolate chop & walnut, and double chocolate.

I broke into the chocolate and peanut butter chip cookie first. It was warm, with a tender inner core and a crispy crunchy outside. The two flavors vied for my attention. A few bites later, I had determined that the inside was essentially half-baked. The cookie was so large that to perfect the shell, and not scorch it, the cookie wasn't cooked all the way. They reminded me of the cookies at Milk which are also underdone, but the cookies at Milk, like the compost cookie, have a zillion ingredients, and the undoneness permeates the outside as well as the inside. Also, their cookies are completely flat.

Each cookie from Levain Bakery was the same experience. The outside had this awesome toasty crunch to it and the inside was cooked just to the edge of almost done. The flavors in the chocolate chip walnut were perhaps the most complex with the bitter walnut skin taste, like eating a freshly shelled nut on the back porch of a deck facing a lake.


The inside of a chocolate peanut butter chip cookie. Wow. 

And what about the banana bread you ask? Don't bother. Really. It's ok, I mean, it's not bad, but it's overcooked, the banana taste is lacking, and it's on the dry side. Definitely not like my mom made when I was growing up.

And with that we were done. I bundled the still giant cookies back up in the paper bag and we rolled away towards Amsterdam Street.