Last weekend, my brother visited me in New York City. It was the first time he had been here since we came on a family vacation in the early 2000s, and it was the first time he got to see my apartment, so I was ready to show him everything the city had to offer. One of our plans was to eat, and eat well. Don’t you just love a city where that’s an activity and attraction in itself?
On the Saturday he was here, I realized that we had the most stereotypical New York foods possible. Bagels for breakfast, pastrami sandwiches for lunch, cheesecake for an afternoon snack, and pizza for dinner. So, what did that leave us for Sunday? Brunch, of course!
We decided to stay in the neighborhood, and after looking up the best brunch places around, we settled on Maison Kayser, which I had noticed elsewhere around the city but had yet to try. Eric Kayser, the mastermind behind it all, opened up his first bakery in Paris in 1996 and has since opened them throughout France, in various other countries like Japan and Dubai, and obviously, New York. Kayser’s creed is “the rebirth of traditional quality bread in its rightful place: in fine dining” so needless to say, bread is very important here. They make it with the most natural, top quality products possible, and it’s all baked fresh each day in each location. Maison Kayser’s website stresses that rather than operating like a chain, each restaurant has its own unique feel that represents and fits into both the city and country its in.
While you can get lunch and dinner at Maison Kayser, I really think that the place is known for its breakfast and brunch. There are pastries, yogurts, tartines, quiches, and salads available on the brunch menu, but I went with something unexpected. Something from a part of the menu called “Les Cocottes.” I had never heard of that before, and a quick Google search led me to tons of images of ramekins. I still didn’t really know what I was getting into but decided to just go for it since my interest was piqued. I ordered the Parisienne one, which comes with house-smoked ham, mushrooms, gruyere, organic eggs, and Tourte de Meule (which another Google search told me was one of Kayser’s breads). My brother and I also ordered le panier de pain, or the daily selection of freshly baked bread with butter and jam, because well, it would be a crime to come here and not get bread!
I patted myself on the back for ordering on a whim once I saw my dish. I’m very wary of egg dishes (omelettes – okay, anything runny or yolky – questionable), so my order could’ve been a complete disaster. When I saw melty cheese baked onto bread on top of more gooey goodness, I stopped worrying. The dish was bubbly and cheesy and I couldn’t stop gushing to my brother about how delicious and rich it all was. Guess I’ve found another kind of egg dish I can get behind!
And the bread? Well now that you’ve heard all about Maison Kayser would you really expect it to be anything else but spectacular? There were so many kinds within our little bread sack–one with olives, one with raisins, one with walnuts, a white variety, and my personal favorite, one that was actually yellow (if anyone knows what kind this is/was, please tell me! I’m obsessed!). All fresh, soft, with a crunchy crust, and flavorful.
Besides the dining area where we sat, which was absolutely packed during prime brunch time by the way, there is also a bakery specific part of Maison Kayser where you can walk up and order different sweets and things. While I still need to try those for myself–who am I kidding, I bet they’re amazing–what I can vouch for is their lovely brunch. It was my favorite meal of the weekend, and that’s saying a lot because we really did stuff our faces.
Parisienne cocottes, le panier de pain
1294 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10021