From the street, you can’t tell there’s a little seating area in the back of Maman, but that’s just one of the many pleasant surprises you get when you enter. The recently-opened French bakery on Centre Street is already a go-to for the downtowners living and working in the vicinity of lower Layfayette Street, because there’s nothing like it for blocks.
The café/bakery is the antidote to the horrifying, touristy lameness that was the pop-up Central Perk ‘café’ around the corner, and feels like a secret lil’ joint where you can enjoy pastries, excellent savory quiche and such. The design is sweet: there’s a bunny vase on every table, and beautiful custom prints on the takeout cups. It’s the little things really, isn’t it? The bakery may be a new collaboration between Michelin starred Armand Arnal, Experimental Cocktail Group’s Benjamin Sormonte, and baker and designer Elisa Marshall, but has the feeling of one of those places that’s been a family-run business for decades.
As for food, the sea salt chocolate chip cookie is the star of the show, but what makes it different from every other cookie out there? Aside from the flavor, it’s the chunkiness of the French chocolate squares, macadamias, almonds and walnuts, all of which are basically mixed in whole and not ground into bits. One bite you may get an entire walnut, the next a full almond – it’s a cookie adventure. If you’re a savory person, the toasted cheese and French ham sandwich is going to be your new favorite thing. You’ll like this place.
Maman, 239 Centre Street, New York NY 10012 Tel: 212.226.0700