NYC — Summer 2015: Black Seed + Le District

Friday, September 18, 2015
On our last day in New York, we decided to check out of our hotel early, drop off our luggage at my brother's apartment, and go for lunch inside Brookfield Place. Inside the massive atrium is, among luxury designer stores like Ferragamo and Burberry, a huge upscale food court. I know, if I hadn't seen it in person, I'd have thought it was an oxymoron. But there are a dozen or so eateries of all different cuisines, and we thought it would be a fun place to go since there's nothing else quite like it in New York.

Salmon bagel from Black Seed

I was contemplating between a few different things, but as it was still pretty early and I wasn't super hungry yet, I settled for a sandwich from Black Seed, which offers "hand-rolled, broiled, and wood-oven baked bagels." I know, pretty basic, right? I thought it would be nice to get a New York bagel before actually leaving New York. So I got their #1 signature sandwich, a classic lox and cream cheese with red onion, tomato, and capers on a toasted everything bagel. Firstly, I should've done more research, as Black Seed doesn't serve strictly New York-style bagels. Apparently, Black Seed was started by two friends from two different cities, and "sought to combine the best of their native Montreal and New York styles [to] create a bagel that is truly unique and delicious." The difference is that New York-style bagels are soft and doughy with a good chew, whereas Montreal-style bagels are smaller, denser, and slightly sweet. If you were looking for a straight-up New York bagel, you might wanna head to H&H Midtown Bagels or Ess-a-Bagel, or Russ & Daughters, which is consistently ranked #1 for their lox and cream cheese bagels. 

I personally prefer the fluffier New York-style bagels over Montreal bagels (Canadian pride be damned), but there is something delightful about these; they're not as fluffy or big as a New York bagel, but not quite as dense or sweet as a Montreal bagel. The original Black Seed location (where this Hudson Eats location gets their bagels from, as they're not made on the premises) has rave reviews and lots of hype, so they're doing something right. The only issue is that they lose that wood-oven freshness during transportation to this location, so they almost always have to be toasted to be any good (which is apparently blasphemy to a New Yorker). While they're not particularly generous with their fixings, they aren't stingy, either, and all the ingredients are fresh. But for $11, I expected to be a fuller than I was. I definitely could've eaten two. At least. 

Latte from Le District

My mom and I had some time to kill before our trip to the airport, so we strolled around Financial District before making our way back to Brookfield Place to have an afternoon coffee at Le District. Le District just opened up this past Spring, and it's essentially a smaller, French version of Eataly. That is, it's a French food marketplace that is both a shopping destination and a dining establishment. It features several different "districts," including Market, Garden, Cafe, and Restaurant, each offering different French foods. As we had eaten lunch already, we bypassed most stations and just got a couple coffees and two pastries from the Pâtisserie counter, and took our goodies out to one of the many vacant tables on the quiet second floor of Brookfield Place. Firstly, I want to mention that the coffee from Le District is surprisingly good. It's not too pricey and they keep their menu simple. My mom got a regular drip coffee and I got a latte, and they both have a good amount of flavour without being too strong or overwhelming. The latte is made with nice frothy milk and it doesn't have too much foam, so it has the perfect consistency. They don't do those complicated, frou-frou drinks, nor do they have several coffee blends to confuse you with when you just want a goddamn regular coffee. It's just straight-up, good quality coffee. 

Chouquette from Le District

Pain au Chocolat aux Amandes from Le District

Secondly, the pastries here are must-haves. The first one we tried isn't technically a chouquette, but it was the most similar description I could find (I don't remember exactly what these are called, but they are distinct in the way they are wrapped, so you'll recognize them if you see them). It's like fluffier and less flaky than a croissant, though not quite as soft as brioche, and it's infused with a light lemony flavour. It has a gorgeous crisp golden top and is studded with sugar crystals. It's fresh and softly aromatic and not too sweet, and aside from being a great snack, it would also make for a really nice breakfast bread. The second pastry, the pain au chocolat aux amandes, is of course a pain au chocolat but with a crisp outer shell of toasted almonds and icing sugar, and it is phenomenal. The pain au chocolat is soft and flaky and filled with dark chocolate, and the top has a beautiful crunch and smoky nutty flavour from the almonds, and it is the stuff dreams are made of. I would go back to Le District for these alone. (My mom, who is really hard to impress with food these days, said upon first bite, "Now, this is delicious." And she never uses the word "delicious.") If you find yourself in the Financial District in New York, you would be doing yourself a serious disservice to not explore the wonderful delights inside Brookfield Place.

Hudson Eats (Brookfield Place)
225 Liberty Street, 2nd Level
New York, NY 10281
(212) 417-7000

Le District
225 Liberty Street
New York, NY 10281
(212) 981-8588
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