Written by Caitriona Fiero or Blondie – LadyChowChow.com reporter from Brooklyn:
Levain Bakery, located at 74th St and Amsterdam Ave in Manhattan, is not so easy to locate. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll walk right by it (we did). But there’s no question, it’s worth the hunt. Found in the basement level of a building, this small Upper West Side bakery is most known for it’s four types of cookies; Chocolate Chip Walnut, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup. Between the five members of my family, we tried all flavors except for the Oatmeal Raisin (we’re a decidedly chocolate family).
When you do finally find the bakery, you’ll walk down a small set of stairs into a very small space consisting of a counter and a massive stainless steel-clad kitchen behind it. Bakers are buzzing around behind the counter and smells of freshly baked cookies and warm bread abound. The staff is friendly and certainly efficient, and they have to be as there’s not enough space for crowds of customers to build. This is undoubtedly one of those “get in and get out” places, but I would consider that part of the fun. Once you’ve made your purchase, you’ll want to head back up the stairs in order to clear the way for the next group of eager customers (yes, really that small). I seem to remember seeing a small counter space and set of stools to the right of the register, but surely this was meant for decoration only!
Levain Bakery won’t be winning any awards for the aesthetic appeal of these cookies. They are by no means the most attractive looking things- big, lumpy, almost intimidating mound-shaped things- you’ll immediately wish you split one with someone else. But what they lack in appearance they make up for in taste. These cookies almost compete with fudge in terms of richness. And flavor? I had the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup and I may as well have been eating peanut butter straight from the jar. The Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip was equally decadent.
If I can offer one piece of advice it would be to buy milk from the bakery as well, and lots of it!