Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!
There are places I go to where I am thinking: Damn, I wish I had such place in my neighborhood! Padoca is one of them. Meaning “neighborhood bakery” in São Paulo, this bakery opened a little over a year ago, pure product of Marina Halpern and Pastry Chef Rachel Binder, offering specialties inspired from Marina's Brazilian roots and Rachel's Israeli experience gained when living in Israel. I should mention that both of them had already an impressive exposure to the culinary world, Marina Halpern at The Dutch and The Mark, and Pastry Chef Rachel Binder at Maialino, Savoy and Tabla, credentials that surely helped them in this adventure.
I like the atmosphere of the place that felt both rustic and zen with wood being present all over, from the tables, to the counter, walls and ceiling. Also a bit playful with the swing instead of a stool at one of the tables, as well as the line of tea pots transformed to lamps.
Foodwise, we were there for brunch and I admit that I was not sure what to pick considering that everything in front of us looked very good. For drinks, we started with a fresh orange juice.
Then, we tried Grandma's milk, a steamed milk with dulce de leche and a shot of espresso (optional) that was very close to a light cafe au lait, the dulce de leche adding a nice sweetness to it.
Then, the hot chocolate that was pretty good and not some diluted hot cocoa that we sometimes end up with...
Last was the espresso that I had to try, being addicted to coffee. It was made with the Brazilian Dromedaire Cuveé medium roast from Nobletree Coffee, a Brooklyn-based company. Nobletree has implemented its Modbar Espresso System, an advanced system that is available at only one other NYC location that allows the barista to exert more control over the pressure used in the espresso extraction process. It was quite good and not bitter at all.
For our meal, we first had some savory specialties. First I should mention their pao de queijo or cheese bread that they ingeniously use to make sandwiches (they call them PDQ - Pao De Queijo sandwiches). We were lucky to try some fresh from the oven and it was so addictive.
We tried two of their sandwiches made with this bread. The first one was the ham with an egg (optional). Well, in fact it is their take on a ham and cheese sandwich, except that the cheese is already in the bread! This was so good, between this fantastic bread, the generous portion of ham and the perfectly cooked egg with a runny yolk making this sandwich more delicious.
The second one was a new addition in their menu: the BLT where we added some avocado and an egg for more decadence.
Both sandwiches were fantastic and would satisfy cheese lovers thanks to the bread, as well as people who only eat gluten free, the bread being totally gluten free, a fact that few people know. Who said that gluten free is not good? Well if you did, try this and let me know!
The next dishes were Empadinhas, flaky pastries similar to a pot pies. We tried the chicken one and the mushroom one that was Israeli inspired. Both were very good but I admit that I preferred the mushroom one, the filling being so good, but also showcasing more the flakiness of the dough. The chicken, finely shredded was also quite delicious and very flavorful.
We also tried their egg and cheese brioche with bacon, another delicious dish made with a fully cooked egg in the center, sprinkled with parmesan and accompanied with bacon for some additional smokiness.
Then was dessert. The first one was the coconut cake that Jodi wanted absolutely to try. I was curious too as I knew that this cake is a Marina Halpern's family recipe reimagined by Chef Binder using a Moroccan basbousa recipe as inspiration. Understand that I am not the biggest fan of coconut cake, but this one is an exception: it was spectacular: with the right balance between the coconut and the orange flavor, it was incredibly moist.
Then, we tried two versions of their babka. The Romeo and Juliette made with guava and cheese (in Brazil, when guava and cheese are mixed, you would refer to as these Shakespearian characters) and the chocolate and dulce de leche babka. These might not have been the best babka I ever tried, but they were very good, the chocolate and dulce de leche one being my favorite, Jodi preferring the other one.
We left full and definitely needed a walk after such a feast. Padoca is a real neighborhood gem that features a unique and innovative menu: this is definitely a place that I recommend. And yes, I would go back anytime! or everyday?
Enjoy (I did)!
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