Posted: October 10, 2012

Levain Bakery – Cookie Monster’s Nirvana

While I love all types of food, I never considered myself to have much of a sweet tooth. I normally fill up on appetizers, beer, & various forms of meat and side dishes before passing into the proverbial ‘food coma’. Thus, leaving no room for dessert. But after recently tasting the cookies at Levain Bakery, I went ahead and promoted my upper left canine to my official ‘Sweet Tooth’. These cookies are huge in both taste and size. In fact, they may just be the best cookies in the city.

Located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Levain Bakery was the brain child of Connie McDonald and Pam Weekes. The two were friends and competitive swimmers. They even trained for the Iron Man competition together. Wanting an alternative to the normal boring power bars, the friends decided to create these large cookies to provide the much needed caloric intake to sustain them during training. They soon opened a bakery to share their creations with the public. And let me tell you, I may take up marathon running myself if it means I can eat more of these decadent cookie delights. All cookies and other goods are baked fresh each day. The smell, when entering the quaint bakery, is reason enough to stop by. They have become so popular that some of the flavors can sell out before the end of the day. So don’t be late.

You can find 4 specific types of cookies at Levain: chocolate chip walnut, chocolate chocolate chip, chocolate peanut butter, and oatmeal raisin.  I had a chance to sample each type, and have to say, “Holy Cookie Crumbs Batman!” Each cookie was better than the next. The outside is firm and slightly crispy while the inside is moist and filled with gooey goodness. Each cookie is at about 6 ounces. That’s big as far as cookies go. They have a mound type appearance and are filled with chocolate chips or raisins. My favorite might just be the chocolate peanut butter cookie. The distinct and bold cocoa flavor of the cookie blended with the copious amounts of creamy peanut butter chips provides what I would imagine an out-of-body experience feels like. I’m a Peanut Butter fanatic, but if you’re more of a diehard straight chocolate lover, the chocolate chocolate chip cookie is just what the doctor ordered. They are sinfully good, being a mix between a cookie and brownie, only better. The fact that these cookies sell for about $4.00 apiece (a bit pricy for one cookie) would make you think it might not be worth it, but I can testify that it is absolutely worth it, as you can’t get cookies like this at just any bakery. The cookies are big enough where you could share between two people. Although I don’t recommend this, as I’ve seen people fighting over who gets the ‘bigger’ half.

In addition to the famous cookies, Levain offers a variety of breads and pastries. From rolls and baguettes, to muffins and scones, there are a number of additional choices to grab on the go, or bring home and enjoy later. I did try one of the oatmeal raisin scones, and it was excellent. They would go great with some tea after dinner.  I also had a piece of the banana chocolate chip bread which both smelled and tasted amazing. If you happen to like banana bread or cake, you have to try this. While I haven’t sampled everything at Levain, you can’t go wrong with fresh ingredients being baked fresh each day. One guy was eating what looked to be a cinnamon bun and was either having a seizure or a religious experience as he was eating it as he stumbled out the door grinning and making ‘mmmm’ noises. I guess he liked it.

Levain’s popularity led to an additional location opening in Harlem, as well as a seasonally operated store in the Hamptons. I have to say it would take a dynamite bakery to actually convince me to write a food article on them, but this is no ordinary bakery. My new sweet tooth and I suddenly have some room for dessert. And I hope you have some too. And if so, you’ll find out that Levain Bakery, and its cookies, are definitely no BS.


(Levain Bakery is located at 167 West 74th St.  in Manhattan. Open 8am-7pm Mon-Sat, 9AM-7PM Sundays. The Harlem location is at 2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd. and has the same hours. The Hamptons location is only open seasonally and is located at 354 Montauk Hwy in Wainscott, NY.)