Five Borough Bucket List

#FiveBoroughBucketList #17: Have a Cookie from Levain Bakery

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Levain Bakery chocolate chip walnut cookieNew York City has (estimated) 4 million places to get food. The City that Never Sleeps is also The City that Never Stops Eating, and that’s totally cool with me. I was born with the biggest sweet tooth on Earth, so I consider myself an authority on all things with sugar. I’ve seen so many “Best of” lists, viral videos, and other posts raving about the cookies from Levain Bakery…and the line. I’ll admit, I was curious. But, I was also a little weary. You see, I hate calling anything “the best” type of food, because for me it never ever lives up to the hype or the amount of time that you spend waiting in line. This explains why I put off visiting Levain for as long as I have.
Levain Bakery building windowFirst thing’s first: the history of Levain Bakery. Levain was founded in 1994 by two friends who were always starving after their workouts. They started to talk about making the perfect chocolate chip cookie, and soon the chocolate chip walnut cookie was born. Word spread, demand grew, and a city landmark (well, sorta) was created. They left their careers (banking and fashion) to focus more on the bakery, and soon additional locations started to pop up. Today, Levain Bakery has 4 locations, all churning out cookies, muffins, buns, brioche, breads, and pizzas.
New Levain Bakery locationThe Levain Bakery story is a super inspiring story about the American Dream. But let’s focus on what’s important here – do the cookies live up to the hype?
Line at Levain BakeryI went into Manhattan to see School of Rock (hello lottery win!), and since it was still early (the beauty of matinees), I decided to make the trek up to reward myself for a miserably hot run that morning. I found the original location with only a small line in front of the store. After reading so many posts about waiting forever in line, I was very happy to see that I wouldn’t be outside for long. And then, a man in a Levain shirt told us all that there was a brand new location 3 blocks away, with no line, air conditioning, and extra seating. I wanted the “authentic” Levain experience, but it was hot as hell outside and he had me at air conditioning…
Levain Bakery cookie menuLevain Bakery has 4 cookies to choose from: dark chocolate peanut butter chip, oatmeal raisin, dark chocolate chocolate chip, and chocolate chip walnut. At $4 (and 6 ounces!) each, I knew I was only going for one, so I ordered their most famous – chocolate chip walnut. The very friendly cashier handed me my cookie, and I sat down to try it. The moment of truth was finally here…
Melty chocolate chip cookie…It’s a damn good cookie. Since they serve the cookies warm, the melty chocolate is one of the highlights. I always bake my cookies to be flat, so the texture and size of this one is a big change from what I’m used to. Yes, it’s a really big cookie, but I oddly didn’t feel bloated or stuffed after I ate it. Would I call it the best cookie in the city? I’m not sure – I haven’t tried from anyplace else. But for now, Levain is my number one!

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