Tebirke at Bien Cuit
Don’t call it a Danish—though a Copenhagen café staple, this deceptively simple poppy-seed pastry is actually a product of the Viennese, not the Danes. Owner Zachary Golper gives the Austria-by-way-of-Denmark novelty a New York revamp at his Cobble Hill bakeshop. He jacks up richness by padding the viennoiserie with extra butter, making for a superbly moist, delicate dough. Subbing out traditional dense marzipan, the pâtissier fills the bundle with smooth almond cream laced with poppy seeds, echoing the savory nuttiness with a generous sprinkle of dried seeds on the crust. 120 Smith St between Dean and Pacific Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (718-852-0200, biencuit.com). $4.
Kanafeh at Balaboosta
This warm dessert at Einat Admony’s beloved New Israeli kitchen is the Middle Eastern answer to Italian cheesecake. Atop a butter-drizzled round of kataif (shredded phyllo dough) are layers of creamy ricotta—a swap-out for goat cheese—perfumed with lemon zest and orange blossom and another nest of phyllo. The golden-brown, crisp-edged pastry is then soaked with a not-so-simple syrup of rosewater, cardamom, orange peel and berries, the kataif threads held together with a baklava-like stickiness. Alongside the traditional pistachio-nut topping, the dish is capped with a scoop of rosewater ice cream and airy floss halva (Persian cotton candy). 214 Mulberry St between Prince and Spring Sts (212-966-7366, balaboostanyc.com). $10.
Borek at Bedford Baking Studio
From empanadas to samosas, it seems every culture has a signature turnover—in Turkey, it’s the borek, a phyllo-wrapped pastry stuffed with ground lamb, vegetables or brined cheese. At this South Williamsburg coffeeshop, Tolga Eyidemir puts a Brooklyn spin on the traditional snacks. In addition to classic combinations like hummus with roasted pepper, the Malatya, Turkey, native spirals flaky pastry dough (called yufka) with outré fillings: sweet-potato-pecan-rosemary, pumpkin-feta-walnut and—a standout—biting French blue cheese studded with chewy, honey-sweet dates, the piping-hot cheese oozing out from beneath the pastry when it’s pulled from the oven. 347 Bedford Ave between South 3rd and 4th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-278-4548, bedfordbakingstudio.com). $4.50.
Merveilleux at Ô Merveilleux
Before Anne-Sophie Diotallevi opened her fetching Upper East Side bakery, the shop’s namesake sweet was virtually unheard-of in New York. Amid brioche buns and full-size cakes, you can find the star confections: Belgian meringues bathed in whipped cream and coated with chocolate shavings or crumbles of house-baked speculoos (spiced gingerbread cookies). Deviating from French meringue recipes, Diotallevi bakes hers at a relatively low temp for a soft, hollow interior and a whisper-light shell, acting as a crunchy foil to the fluffy cream and crumbly coating. 1509 Second Ave between 78th and 79th Sts (646-681-8688, omerveilleux.com). Small $2.20, large $5.90.
The tony Upper East Side gets a bad rap for a dining scene that can be as stuffy as an un-renovated townhouse, but things have been changing in the past few years and a new guard is taking over. Enter Maison Hugo, the neighborhood's newest French entry, run by a young husband and wife team with a passion for fine dining. Provence-born chef, Florian Hugo, honed his culinary skills in Alain Ducasse restaurants from Paris to Monaco. Wife Michelle runs a neighborhood-friendly front of house. Together, they form a team that pays homage the neighborhood's haute cuisine history while also appealing to younger diners looking for something a little more out of the ordinary. The restaurant, which opened in October 2015, is a labor of love for the couple, who personally designed every detail of the restaurant, right down to the upholstery. The main dining room is a vibrant space boasting bright red banquettes, brass railings and colorful artwork. The more minimalist private dining room is cast in a softer hue with natural wood furnishings, the better to set the mood under the moonlight pouring in from the ceiling skylight. Chef Hugo, most recently of Brasserie Cognac and Brasserie East, shows an easy comfort with Gallic classics. For starters, his tartare de boeuf ($16/$26) is a thing of beauty. The buttery cubes of tender beef just about melt into their creamy mustard dressing, which packs addictively sweet and spicy heat. The simple poulet rôti ($30) is another winner, pairing moi
Venue says: “For a limited time only, introducing a three course lunch and dinner! Lunch, $29 Mon-Fri 11:30a-3p and Dinner, $45 Mon-Sun”