305 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022
My review on TripAdvisor:
I came across the Éclair Bakery when I was walking the Sutton Place neighborhood for my walking project, “MywalkinManhattan.com”. The bakery is on the side street of East 53rd Street close to Second Avenue on the border of the Sutton Place and Turtle Bay neighborhoods in an area some people in the neighborhood call “Sutton East”.
For all the confusion of what neighborhood it is in, Éclair Bakery is a rather large and narrow restaurant with seating in the front and back and the counter with all the baked goods in the middle. All the products here are lined up like colorful jewels in the display case.
The bakery selection
The bakery is the brainchild of Stephane Pourrez, a French Pastry chef from Paris. He was trained at Ferrandi and the French School of the Culinary Arts. After working under several chefs in Paris, he came to New York and worked for another bakery in the City until 2013 when he opened his first shop (website).
This well lit and designed bakery treats the product the same way it does the customer, with care and respect and showcases them both. The walls are painted with colorful scenes of Paris and the design is almost like an open air bakery in the famous French city. I felt like I was transported to a trendy neighborhood in that City.
There are all sorts of sweets and savories in the cases. The are tiny quiches with bacon and cheese and spinach. They have chicken salad and small ham and cheese sandwiches and a ham and cheese croissant.
The Bakery Selection
There is a variety of different types of pastries and signature éclairs’ ($5.75) to try. I was trying to decide between the traditional, milk chocolate and the hazelnut and the woman behind the counter convinced me to order the hazelnut. It was delicious.
The Eclairs and the Hazelnut is in the middle
The pate a choux, which is the éclair dough, is made fresh every day and in small batches so the desserts are always fresh. The outside of the éclair was topped with a type of golden sugar and tiny crunchies that gave a crisp bite to mouthful. The inside was filled with a sweet hazelnut and cream mixture that sweet but subtle and was a nice combination of flavors.
I also tried to decide between the mini French Doughnuts that were filled with Nutella and fresh strawberry jelly ($2.50). Both were about four bites and are well worth the price tag. Since I could not decide I ordered them both. The Strawberry Jelly is sweet and tart at the same time and combines nicely with the sugary top. The other is filled with Chocolate Nutella spread and has a nice hazelnut and chocolate sweetness to it. The doughnuts themselves have a pillowy consistency and a sugary sweetness on the outside.
To complete dessert I ordered a green tea ice tea ($2.75), which hit the spot on a warm day. There was just the right amount of simple syrup in it that it did not need sugar.
I was so impressed by the food and service at Eclair Bakery that I went back for lunch a week later. This time I tried their buttery Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche ($7.00) which was loaded with freshly cooked broccoli and sharp cheddar cheese. The soft inside was perfectly cooked and heated up for me and the buttery flaky exterior crust made every bit a nice combination of flavors and textures. You could really taste the butter in the crust.
For dessert, I tried a Pepito choco ($4.00), which I had never heard of before in French baking. It was a long puff pastry filled with almond cream and chocolate chips. It looked more Spanish than French but nothing was lost in the translation. The combination of the cream and chocolate chips was delicious and was almost a combination of a eclair, chocolate chip cookie and Twinkie. Very unusual and very unique dessert. Again I had the Green Tea ice tea ($2.75) which is so refreshing on a hot day.
One late Friday night I was walking home from the Met and was in need of a snack and to tell you how much I like this place I walked from Fifth Avenue and East 80th Street down to West 53rd and Second Avenue to have one of his Ham and Cheese Croissants ($4.75). God was it worth it! The outside croissant dough was flaky and buttery and crisp with every bite and the inside was loaded with a thin honey ham and Gruyere cheese for a slightly sharper taste. It made the perfect quick meal.
One afternoon, after finishing the walk for the Turtle Bay neighborhood (the next neighborhood from Sutton Place-See ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’), I had a nice lunch at Éclair. I treated myself the Croque MR. ($7.50), a type of French grilled cheese except they use Gruyere cheese and French Ham instead of American Cheese and bacon. It is then dipped in Béchamel sauce and fried out in butter. It was heaven in each bite as you could taste the combination of the sauce, ham and cheese and a slight hint of mustard. It was crisp and creamy at the same time. I had the black tea ice tea ($2.75) but this time around you needed to add sugar. Stick to the Green Tea with simple syrup. For dessert I tried a Tiger Nutella ($4.00), which was a type of chocolate chip cookie in a mold with a dab of Nutella in the cup in the middle of the top. It is rich and decadent at the same time.
When I was completing my tour of Sutton Place and getting ready to enter Turtle Bay, I made a special trip in between movies at the MoMA to go to Éclair once again and had one of their decadent Blondies ($3.50), a dense chewy dessert similar to a brownie in consistency. There Blondies had a heavier and sweeter caramelized flavor and the dessert was loaded with butter which you could taste in every bite.
Their Chocolate Chip cookie ($3.00) is similar and size and has the same rich buttery taste to it. It is loaded with big chocolate chunks. Another dessert that was a stand out was Pain Aux Raisins ($3.50), a danish with a cream rolled into the pastry and studded with plump raisins. It was sweet pastry loaded with equally sweet raisins in every bite. Their Brownie’s ($3.50) are sweet, dense, rich with chocolate and have a nice chewy consistency.
The dense Lemon Cake with the light icing ($4.00) served as my birthday cake in October. Its light sweetness and taste of fresh lemon made my birthday quite festive as I walked down Second Avenue on Day One Hundred and Forty Six of MywalkinManhattan.
The service is very friendly and welcoming and they are good at making recommendations.