Maman is winning right now; the French cafe’s eighth NYC location, opened on King Street in May, was described by the Floratorium design team as ‘Jumanji’ meets ‘The Secret Garden’ and has been a beehive of activity on weekends. Add in a forthcoming cookbook, plus two Canada locations, and the twee South-of-France-inspired vibe-palace feels like it’s turning into a global juggernaut.
I strode past a long line of eager brunchgoers on my way to the pastry case at the Soho storefront on Centre Street this afternoon. Despite the burgeoning popularity and ever-elegant sit-down options, Maman maintains a very efficient takeout operation.
Sometimes it helps to not be a person-who-brunches.
Lavender and lemon-frosted loaf cakes, powdered-sugar dusted almond croissants, pudgy beignets, elegant gallettes and — of course — the famously delicious cookies all maintain a reliable place in Maman’s pastry case, which continues to be one of the most beautiful in the city. I was specifically interested in assessing their benchmark pastry, which I’ve had innumerable times over the years — the nutty chocolate chip cookie.
Maman’s cookies, at their ‘Oprah’s Favorite Things’ pinnacle, are like soft, chewy, browned-butter chocolate blankets on the tongue. The nutty chocolate chip cookie I had today was good, quite good, but was more crunchy than chewy and lacking in the rich chocolate mien of the ideal Maman cookie. I would give this a 7.5 out of 10 — quite good, not worth traveling for, but definitely a top cookie in the neighborhood..
The better pastry, in my opinion, was the Oreo-inspired chocolate creme sandwich cookie. The moist, fudgy wafers, hugged together by silken creme, made for an ideal walking snack; I could have easily had two. This lands at a 7.9.
Even with takeout, Maman delivers a sumptuous, cozy experience; I was able to snag a window seat with my pastries and chill for a bit, which is always appreciated in the summer. Maman may be taking their food global, but for this neighbor at least, the local loyalty remains strong.
Until next time.