Monday, March 10, 2014

Where to Eat: Parisian Lunch at Maison Kayser

We at the park are always asked by visitors: "Where is a good place to eat around here?" Luckily, the Bryant Park neighborhood is home to a wide variety of high-quality food at various price points, perfect for a leisurely lunch or a quick snack. In this series, we give you the scoop on dining in the area. 

Bryant Park is proud of its French influence in its gardens, bistro chairs, and Le Carrousel, among other things. And let's not forget last September's Taste of France exhibition! Now, we have another feather in our French cap: the opening of Maison Kayser, a new location of the Paris-based bakery and cafe chain of the same name.

Located on 40th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues (closer to 5th Avenue), the cafe is perfectly situated for eating in the park. Just grab and go!
The store is gorgeous inside. With a colorful selection of sandwiches, salads, fruits, juices and sides, the lunch options are impressive. Better yet, the offerings are portioned such that you can enjoy a balanced lunch without feeling overstuffed.
Our French co-worker constantly sings the praises of Maison Kayser's world-famous bread, so ordering a sandwich was a no-brainer. The sandwiches came in flavors like the Maine (lobster, lettuce, and tomato on fluffy viennoise bread) and the Italien (tomato, mozzarella, and pesto on olive ciabatta), among other. Does the French spelling of the sandwich names make the product more authentic? We think so.
All the sandwiches were gorgeous, but the one that really cried out for attention was the Jamon Iberico. Featuring Spain's famous Iberian ham, the sandwich co-starred Manchego cheese, lettuce, and halved dried figs. The salty, sweet flavors balanced perfectly, and the crusty French poppy seed baguette truly knocked this sandwich out of the park. To get in a serving of veggies, we also snacked on Les Choux (the purple container), which is a cold salad of red cabbage, apple, carrot, golden raisins, and red onion in a Dijon vinaigrette. The salad's crunch and tartness was a nice complement to the indulgent sandwich. To end the meal on a sweet note, we enjoyed classic French madelines (similar to pound cake, but in a beautiful shell shape) that were lighter than air and entirely satisfying. 
During our visit, we spotted the cafe's renowned pastries. The golden brown croissants, danishes, and rolls made an impression--we will definitely be stopping by Maison Kayser for breakfast!

Another thing we noticed is that Maison Kayser can barely keep is gorgeous fruit tarts, eclairs, and cream puffs in stock. We think it's a safe bet that they're absolutely delicious, and we will definitely try a few in a future visit!

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