On Saturday morning, my mom and I walked down to Peels, a new restaurant and bakery in NY. There was apparently hype-overload during the summer when the restaurant was under construction. I learned about it though, because I knew the pastry sous-chef, Genevieve, when she lived in Boston and worked at Flour. New York is lucky to be benefitting from her pastry talents, as well as those of pastry chef, Shuna Fish Lydon.
The outside and inside are both a bright, clean white. The outside doesn’t scream restaurant or bakery. If I didn’t know what it was, I might have thought it was a boutique based on the exterior. Inside, you are greeted by the pastry case and lunch counter, and a tall table where you can stand or sit and enjoy coffee and a pastry.
One item that caught my eye was the monkey bread, particularly the mascarpone icing. Mascarpone icing!!! I was on the fence because I feared that the pastry part would be tough and bready, with the icing providing all of the sweetness.
Quite the opposite, the bread was soft and sweet, but thankfully not doughy, with a touch of cinnamon and sugar throughout. The sweet, impossibly light mascarpone, complemented the tender bread perfectly.
Both the brown butter rice krispie treats and the homemade graham crackers are only $1.
Next up, we tried the Peel-io, the Peels Oreo. I love good, homemade chocolate sandwich cookies. I actually made a pretty excellent batch in my pre-blog days. Real Oreo filling has that slightly firm texture due its use of shortening. Because it is firm, it can stand up to the crispness of the cookies. One reason I love homemade Oreos is that you can use a non-shelf-stable filling that actually tastes good, like a buttercream. Buttercream is of course much softer and more delicate than shortening, and so it doesn’t work as well if you have a crispy cookie. The filling ends up squeezing out of the sides when you bite into the cookie, which is why, in my opinion, a chewy cookie is a wiser choice if you are going to use a buttercream filling. I was thrilled that the Peel-io avoided the crispy cookie pitfall. The cookie was soft and pliable and the filling did not ooze out when you bit into it. Quite lovely in my opinion.
I was not as big a fan of the snickerdoodle. The crispy edges were nice, very buttery and cinnamon-y. The center, while nicely chewy, was a tad bland.
After these first three selections, we could not leave without trying the pecan sticky bun.
Just like the monkey bread, the bun was tender, moist and nicely sweet. There was a nice amount of pecans without nut overload. The topping was thick and substantial. It behaved nicely in that it didn’t get all over your hands as you ate it.
I have to say, at least based on my first visit, the hype is deserved. The restaurant itself is charming and I can’t wait sit down for a meal there. But I am more than happy to stop in for a new pastry whenever I’m close by.
325 Bowery (Corner of 2nd St.)
New York City, NY 10003