If you can’t travel to Paris, bring Paris to you. Maman and La Mercerie are two French bakery-cafes that will take you straight back to afternoon people-watching on the terrasses of Saint Germain. Whether craving French country home goods, buttery croissants, or a cafe au lait, come to these spots when you’re feeling a little wanderlust for the City of Lights.
Daniel Rose–internationally acclaimed chef and owner of Le Coucou, an upscale French eatery in NYC–is married to Frenchwoman and fellow chef Marie-Aude Rose. Together, they opened La Mercerie, a cafe/restaurant concept inside Soho’s hip, interior design store Roman & Williams Guild. And the Roses are certainly bringing a taste of la vie en rose to Manhattan. One bite of the house-famed brioche, and you’re transported to banks of the Seine.
At La Mercerie in Le Guild, you’ll find a small menu of sweet treats, including pain au chocolat (a sweet croissant filled with chocolate), chouquettes (snowball-esque doughnut holes) and butter cookies “from the counter.” But it won’t be long until you’re able to peruse a savorier menu of bistro-style morning fare and quintessentially French lunch and dinner dishes (beef bourguignon, chicken pastries, a robust lineup of savory crepes, et al.). I recommend the a.m. brioche, served with a small pot of raspberry jam.
To drink: bubbles (Champagne, naturally!), specialty cocktails, wine, tea, and coffee. I advise the AJNA tea with anise hyssop, tulsi, and lavender. Pâtisserie connoisseurs might argue that Dominique Ansel makes a better croissant, but the Dominique Ansel Kitchen has nothing over La Mercerie when it comes to ambiance.
All of this inside an open cafe with Marie Antoinette-blue-velvet seating, white rectangular tables festooned with a single poppy, and trees, violets, and fresh flowers peppered throughout–you’ll feel like you’re in a modern version of Versailles Palace’s Petit Trianon. Brass copper pots, and part-flower shop, it’s almost like wandering through the orangeries of the chateaux in the French Loire Valley.
The powder room carried over these blue, white, and brassy/off-silver accents: Aesop soaps, candles, flowers … this botanical boutique/bistro is one for the books (you’ll also find a healthy selection of coffee-table and novelty reads in house), and perfectly attuned to modern bon vivants.
Nestled between Grand & Broome, and also in Soho, you’ll find another francophile pilgrimage. Maman is a stylish cafe and event space, and one of Benjamin Sormonte and Elisa Marshall’s six NYC hubs. Maman said bienvenue to its first guests, international and local, in 2014. With multiple locales across Manhattan, Brooklyn and one spot in Toronto, Maman gained its claim to fame from re-creations of Benjamin and Elisa’s childhood dishes (cooked by their mothers).
The artsy, extraordinary cute, Instagram-approved place welcomes all those seeking a homey place to dine and work. And you won’t have to worry about your phone or laptop dying at Maman. There are certainly enough outlets to go around!
Affixed to Maman’s cafe, Marché Maman has rustic, French country home feel. Browse by johanne collections in the marché: a well-curated and bespoke combination of custom-made French goodies–jewelry, accessories, decor, clothing–all hard to come by outside of Europe.
As for what’s on the Marché Maman menu, the full bar and kitchen offers a rotating menu of dishes and drinks inspired by southern French family recipes, both savory and sweet, for breakfast, lunch and brunch. Low-carb dieters, this may be the hippest version of Hades you’ve seen in a while. Baked goodies galore: apple-caramel Brioche, pistachio pain au chocolat, white chocolate blueberry lavender cake.
Savories include an array of daily quiches with mixed greens and sandwiches. But we advise opting for sweets over the sandwiches, which are far from the stars on the menu, washed down with Alain Millet juices imported from France. And Maman’s Homemade Oreos, a Franco-American recipe, are the talk of the block.
The dining space also hosts culinary workshops and cookbook launches for French foodies young and old.
Can you say oui, merci?