359 East 68th Street at First Avenue, Upper East Side
Getting There: 6 to 68th Street – Hunter College; F,N,Q to Lexington Av – 63rd Street
Restaurant Review: Padoca Bakery
It’s a rain-soaked New York City weeknight when we find respite inside of Padoca Bakery, a quaint little coffee shop space that sits on East 68th Street. The Upper East Side is home to a bevy of coffee chains and diners but a finding a specialty bakery and cafe was a bit of a challenge just some 18 months ago, before the arrival of Padoca- a word that literally means ‘corner bakery.’ But the friendly and warm staff inside match the cozy ambiance of the comfortable space that is probably best suited to clients looking to grab-and-go but is also perfectly sufficient for some old friends to stick around awhile and chat.
After dabbing off the remaining rainwater from our soaked umbrellas, we manage to take stock of our welcoming surroundings. Rustic wood panels outfit a naturally inviting decor, where inventively hollowed out tea kettles shine light down from the ceiling and swings hang from above as inventive chairs for guests to occupy. Up front, a window of fresh pre-made foods makes the array of sandwiches, salads, juices and parfaits a quick stop for folks running to their next meeting or eating on a bench at nearby Saint Catherine’s Park. But early dinner or quick lunch aside, it’s the baked goods served at Padoca’s front counter that alone makes the bakery a worthwhile visit.
Conceptually, Padoca Bakery takes much of its decorative inspiration from Brazil, though the menu certainly offers up some modernized American twists on traditionally French staples. Artisanal fare like “Brie & Prosciutto” ($10.75) and “Ham & Queijo” ($5.75) sandwiches sit alongside shareable dishes like the outrageous “Hearts of Palm Empadinha” ($3.75) at the upfront counter, where a litany of excellent and rich baked goods are carefully being packaged for customers sitting tableside. Decadent brownies from “Red Velvet” ($4.75) to the inventive (and powdered-sugar soaked) “Black + White” ($4.00) and cakes (the subtle and sweet “Bolo de Coco” – $4.00), turnovers and cookies all make for beautiful pairings with the perpetually terrific selection of Nobletree Coffees offered on site.
The rich and tasty latte that touched our lips was enhanced by the lip-smacking flavors of the authentic and buttery “Pao de Queijo” or “PDQ, a Brazilian-inspired cheese bread, which we quickly downed as a smile struck our faces. It’s probably not a good idea to gorge on such delicacies on a daily basis, but once and awhile, it’s definitely worth it to experience that freshly made pastry, that salty sandwich replete with cured meats or worst case, a piping hot cup of Joe brewed by one of Brooklyn’s finest coffee companies. It’s all there for the taking at Padoca Bakery, a unique little neighborhood place with its own eclectic style.
- Jane Vane Arsdale