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l'Imprimerie Bakery in Brooklyn New York baguettes and miche

I’m often dismayed when I take a trip back to the U.S. and people tell me they wonder why they can’t get good food where they live, like they have in France. While it’s certainly true there aren’t bakeries on every street corner in America (I think people would miss all those 24/7 drugstores and coffee shops), there are places that offer fresh-baked goods, nice cheeses, wines, and chocolates. You just have to scope them out.

I was happy to discover, in a somewhat off-beat part of Brooklyn, L’imprimerie, a bakery that surprised even me. One day during my trip, I’d had a great Detroit-style pizza lunch at Emmy Squared with a friend (Tip: Go for the Roni Supreme with pepperoni and Calabrian chili) and wanted a coffee afterwards. He said we could get one at the bakery, which was on my list of places to visit. I was surprised when he said that, because very few bakeries serve coffee in France. I forgot that about the States; very few bakeries just sell bread or pastries, and send people on their way. So, on the upside, you can multitask a pick up a coffee along with your bread.

French pastries

It’s nice to have a place to sit and eat something, along with your coffee if you want to stay and chat with a friend. And it’s also nice to give people credit when they’re doing something well, as is happening in many places around America.

Last time I was in New York, I was with some French friends who have a bakery in Paris and we were talking about why there wasn’t high quality bread readily available in the United States. I thought about it for a while, and while we can get good bread in most cities, it’s not something that people in America automatically put out on the table. I have to remember to bring bread as a gift when I go to dinner parties in America because I find myself searching for the bread basket. The only snag is when they think it’s merely a gift, and don’t put any out for the guests, including me. (I hope it’s not rude to bring it up. Maybe I should arrive with it already sliced, in a basket?)

The reason I think Americans don’t eat bread as much as Europeans, specifically the French, is that we didn’t really have a culture of peasantry, where diets were based on bread. (And wine). As much as people think they want fresh bread every day, like they have in France, I’m not sure there is the support for it.

(Another reason that the French can serve bread so freely and keep their business afloat is that the bread basket in France is usually recycled – it’s whisked away as soon as the dinner plates are, and replenished for another table. I’m not sure how many Americans would tolerate a bread basket arriving from a neighboring table. But lest you think the French are lax about hygiene, one reason that doggy bags are frowned upon is that it’s considered a pas hygiénique way to transport food.)

croissant Brooklyn Bakery

Either way, bread is more important to the French meal than it is elsewhere. It’s something I miss on the table when I’m traveling. While not all bread in France is great, it is plentiful and you’re never far from a boulangerie. And I’ll admit that I will go farther than others for good bread, including Bushwick, a section of Brooklyn that’s gentrifying, but still retains a “rough around the edges” feel.

It was there that I found some of the best bread I’ve ever had. Just across from the White Castle, sandwiched between cell phone stores and barber shops, is L’Imprimerie. What a find! Originally from Nancy, in the Lorraine region of France, Gus Reckel is the owner and baker. In France, he was a banker who eventually went to London to work. Then he decided to move to America and took baking classes in New York before opening his bakery a year ago.

Croissants at New York Bakery

You’d never know that he hasn’t been a baker that long from the look, and taste, of his spectacular breads and pastries. After my first visit, I posted a picture of a loaf of his gorgeous miche on my Facebook page, similar to the one he’s holding in his right hand, and a number of viewers said it was burnt. The French call that bien cuit and there are people who prefer it. There are a number of people in France that like their bread pas trop cuit, or “not well-cooked” (I’m not one of them), which French bakers are lamenting. So I love, and celebrate, a good, hearty crust that’s crackles when you slice into it, and am happy to show my support when I find bread like that. (Although maybe you can circle back to me in a few years when my teeth aren’t as sturdy as they are now.)

Baker Gus Reckel

When I sliced into the loaf for dinner that night, I loved the ruddy interior, and coarse, yet butter-friendly crumb. To me, it’s the perfect bread.

French miche bread

I liked it so much that I had to go back to L’imprimerie a few days later, to meet up with Gus, since I was too shy to ask if I could meet him. Over coffee in the backyard, he told me he opened the bakery in a former print shop that still has a working printing in the window. He starts work at 4 in the morning, mixing up the doughs for the breads and viennoiserie (yeast-leavened pastry).

l'Imprimerie Bakery in Brooklyn New York

I steered the conversations towards the miche, that big, round country loaf, made of white flour, whole wheat, rye and buckwheat, leavened naturally for three days. There’s also a lovely looking, lighter sourdough and a grainy bread. But to be honest, it’d be hard to wean me off the miche if I lived closer. (Since they make a limited amount of miches each day, you can pre-order one 3 days in advance, although they do bake them daily.)

Miche French bread

The bread gets made into tartines, open-faced sandwiches with cheese and honey or avocado. They’re available all day, as are the “morning” pastries, such as the croissants and escargots, snail-like coils of yeasted puff pastry with raisins and pistachio.

Olive fougasse at l'Imprimerie

Brooklyn Honey

And that honey on the counter? Some of it is from the surrounding boroughs, some of it from the roof above the bakery.

cinnamon buns

I had to beg off tasting everything, even though I wanted to, especially Gus’s pain au chocolat, baked with a bar of Valrhona chocolate inside, some with jalapeños (…which I don’t think we’ll be seeing in Paris anytime soon!), and Cinnamon buns, which I joked with him if he actually liked them because the French generally aren’t that fond on cinnamon-laden pastries.

l'Imprimerie Bakery in Brooklyn New York-coffee maker

l'Imprimerie Bakery breads

But one of the biggest draws of L’imprimerie (aside from the miche, and the super-nice Gus) are the salty chocolate chip cookies. They’re conclusive proof that don’t have to be from somewhere to make good food from that place. And if you still don’t believe me, his chocolate chip cookies were voted the second best chocolate chip cookies in New York. I haven’t tasted my way around all the chocolate chip cookies in New York, but I have had a lot of chocolate chip cookies, and Gus’s are taking their rightful place at the top.

salted chocolate chip cookies

They’re soft, a bit salty, and mine was warm so when I broke it in half, the soft chocolate chunks melted into glossy strands of darkness. Whatever mix of flours he uses in his cookies, just like his miche, he found the right combination.

l'Imprimerie Bakery in Brooklyn New York - breads

1524 Myrtle Avenue
New York (Bushwick Brooklyn)
Email: limprimeriebrooklyn AT

Open daily, 7am to 7pm

Related Links

The Absolute Best Baguette in New York (Grubstreet)

How to Find a Good Baguette in Paris

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    • Taste of France

    It looks so good.
    I don’t think Americans raised on Wonder Bread are ready for this. When my brother and his family visited me in France, they hated the bread. They wanted industrial pain de mie. Go figure.
    Whether French or any other ethnicity, the wonderful thing that newcomers offer is a variety of cuisines, especially in big, diverse cities like NY. It makes our lives richer.
    PS: my husband insists on his bread being très bien cuit. I say it’s more like cramé.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Well, Harry’s bread is big in France. (According to their website, 2/3rds of French households have one of their products in it.) I know Americans who crave really good bread (also, yup, some like regular white bread) so it’s nice that places like L’imprimerie are springing up around the U.S. I remember in the 80’s and 90’s, that it really wasn’t possible to get anything like this in America. Now places like this are thriving : )

    • Maria

    He baked goods look gorgeous ,,he knows he craft very well,,but I was wondering,,is the girl on his shirt trying to take a bite of his bread ??

      • Betty

      Very funny – I had to go back to look at the shirt again!

    • Gina Bisaillon

    I must confess that I do like the “party” sandwiches made on soft North-American bread, preferably the whole wheat kind, that they serve here at all community events. But the bread that I make and eat daily is a multigrain miche that I like to bake almost as dark as that one.

    • Leigh

    Bien cuit gets my vote, too. In fact, if the roof of my mouth isn’t shredded after munching on a slice or two (untoasted), the crust is a bust. Serious crust, open crumb sourdough – bliss. Great post – thanks.

    • Cynthia Barnett

    David….if you ever wander north to Portland. Maine, there is an EXTRAORDINARY bakery on Commercial Street across from the ferry terminal…called STANDARD BAKERY…and Allison has kept the high standard up for all her years in Portland…..AND I think it’s the best bread (s) certainly in the northeast, if not the east coast….google it!

    • Nadia

    When I left France for Los Angeles in 1996, there were only a handful of really good bakeries but when I left 17 years later, quite a number had sprung up. Now, back in France, no need to hunt around though. Even my local supermarket has a great bakery attached.

    • tim

    Awesome place. If you ever get across the river to NJ you need to check out balthazar bakery. They make the bread for the restaurant in Manhattan, plus whole sale to other restaurants/whole foods stores.

    Story that I got was that they expanded the operation to NJ for space. They were not going to open up a store, people just kept asking to buy the stuff.

    Miche makes the best grilled cheese as well.

    • Tosca

    au contraire ;)
    this American, from San Francisco LURVES crusty ‘burnt’ sourdoughs, double fermented ryes, crisp flake buttery croissants. And in Toronto they are, thankfully, plentiful!
    But to think that bakeries like this are only just popping up in the States is incorrect- I enjoyed breads such as Gus’ and more throughout the 90’s in Taos, and Santa Fe, NM. Perhaps what is changing is the mainstream American preferring wonder bread-like bread?

    • claudia

    Delightful! Thanks for sharing your visit. Your writing always puts me into a ‘sensuous idyll in a Paris cafe’ kind of mood. But today I was only slightly disappointed that you didn’t make an accompanying video. Please do make more of them. Merci.

    • Milt gersh

    U really know how to make one cry. This is the first time in 19 yrs. I will not be traveling to France. The photos of the breads was quite painful. Since I now live in sarasota ,fl. There isn’t a decent baker here. How I wish to be able to get the good bread! How I envy u. Thanks, milt gersh

      • Alene

      I live in Venice, FL, down the road. How I solved the problem of a total lack of good bread and bakeries was to become gluten intolerant. Not happily but necessary. These photos break my heart!

      • Avrom Shalom

      I also live in Sarasota. Jim’s Small Batch in Gulfgate bakes some decent bread and cest la vie on main isn’t bad either

    • Annette Solberg

    I like the idea of bringing the bread sliced and in a basket. It elevates the gift and educates the host.

    • Katie Fischer

    I’m a Bushwick-dwelling millennial (like most yuppies there) and moved to NYC just after the bakery opened, keenly adoring it ever since. When I saw your Instagram post at Roberta’s I immediately reacted and posted a link to L’Imprimerie so you might chance upon the exquisite miche (Sorry Roberta’s). I am ecstatic that you went and that it was on your list already. So glad to see this post and proud that my ‘hood has top notch places that even you adore. Heading to L’Imprimerie now ;)

    • Betty

    In Greece, we still have pretty good bread, though my local bakeries have nothing like what was shown here.

    When relatives from the US visited earlier this year, one of them made sure to tell me that she doesn’t like whole grain bread, which is what I usually buy. Without realizing it, she gobbled it up!

    • Alexandra

    Those photos made me start drooling, as all your pics, but these more so. Whenever I meet a new person & we get around to ‘trips, vacations’ France! Or Paris… “Oh the bread!” Me: Yes, for my husband, it was a toss-up between the croissant chocolat or the Pastis. (I had to institute the No Pastis Before 10am Rule.) grin Villefranche-sur-Mer, ahh.

    • GiGi

    Why don’t Americans eat bread? Haven’t you heard our big lies? Bread is carbohydrate. They are bad for you. They make you fat. Such utter nonsense!

    I am of Holland-Dutch heritage, I love bread, cheese, and chocolate. Because I can’t find good bread here – unless I go to Charlottesville – I learned to make my own sourdough. It took a long time, but I ended up with Ken Forkish’s recipe from his book FLOUR, WATER, SALT, YEAST. Still tweaked it to my own taste.
    You won’t get that dark color unless you bake it long past the times listed, and if you can find a copper pot, it will do well. My 1/2 recipe makes a small loaf baked in a copper Charlotte mold and 4 rolls. Perfect!

    Next time you bring bread, hand slice it, put it in a cute basket with a cloth napkin, and tuck in a brick of Trader Joes European butter. And say, “A gift for you. You know no Frenchman ever eats without bread. Just put it on the table so we can all enjoyed it.” And smile.
    Gigi, Richmond, Va

    • robert chase

    From Banker to Baker. An excellent [honorable] career move. [Made a note for our next trip across the East River.]

    • Leslie

    I beg you try Bob’s Well Bread in Los Alamos, CA —– everything you love about bread, in a tiny town north of Santa Barbara, south of Santa Maria (yeah.. in the middle of nowhere….)
    I live in the south of France, originally from LA…. now trying out everything socca!!!

    • sharon mumby

    Ah… mmm made me hungry…
    the breads look beautiful… nice
    dark crusty bread to slice, rip, crunch & chew…
    divine <3
    bit far for me to go from california but I know a good bread when I see one!
    : )

    • Eileen

    I agree that there are amazing bakeries and coffee in the U.S. I live in the Twin Cities and we are not at a loss for stellar pastries, espresso and restaurants. The only negative for me is, having to get in a car (but often on my bike), to go the many miles getting to these establishments. And I live in the city! I know a pastry shop on every corner couldn’t survive… but it sounds wonderful!

      • Dr. Stu

      Rustica or Patissarie 46 can put you into a European, French frame of mind. We are blessed to have these two bakeries in our city of Minneapolis.

    • Abigail

    La Farm Bakery in Cary, NC is a favorite of mine. It’s a small French style bakery tucked away in Cary and such a fun place to visit!!!

    • Mary

    As always your blog is a joy to receive and savor…I’m going to be on the next train to Brooklyn (1 & 1/2 hours for me) as my mouth is watering at the thought of all those goodies!!!

    • Christina

    Another lovely article. I have had the good fortune to have had Acme bread in Berkeley and now Essential Bakery in the PNW. What is wonder is who eats the vast number and variety of sliced loaves in a whole wall of a supermarket here? They all have enough sugar in them to classify as a pastry and a veritable pharmacopeia of chemicals! Yet someone must eat them – whether carb phobic or not! Also captured my own yeast here on Bainbridge Island which makes a lovely baguette over a two-day process,

    • Pat

    Oh yum. Makes me want to learn to bake and open a bakery in our small town.

    • Ellen A.

    Aw, come on. That’s really Robert de Niro, right? :)

      • Renee

      I thought the same thing!

    • Robert H.

    What a great article, and now L’imprimerie is on the list for our next trip to NYC! Having grown up in San Francisco, I can never forget the loaf of Larabaru “Dark-Bake” sourdough that was always on our table. We are fortunate to have two wonderful bakeries on our island, both of which provide outstanding loaves. One has a rosemary/sea salt batard with a solid crust and soft interior that is terrific, and the other makes a “European-bake” (read dark) Pugliese loaf that is a constant in our house. Long live Bien Cuit!

    • Peggy

    As a New Zealander who has visited the States a number of times in the last ten years, I was disappointed not to find bakeries as would here in New Zealand.
    One time, when staying in Dallas, my sister and I went off the main highway to an area called Old Grapevine and were delighted to find a thriving French bakery.
    Beautiful products and we went home with a loaf of crusty bread.
    It was the first time we really enjoyed bread during our stay and the loaf disappeared all to quickly.

    • italiangirlcooks

    I was born in the Bronx and I love rustic bakery bread. When we moved to SoCal, I was lucky enough to grow up near Dalvia’s Italian Bakery – I was one spoiled kid. I only eat this kind of bread and pastry. My mouth is watering right now…I could live on it. It’s a good thing I jog.

    • soozzie

    One of these days I’d appreciate a post about the other types of French bread commonly available in Parisian bakeries. Shapes, what types of flour is used, flavor and usage, whether one buys a whole loaf or a portion. I’d like to get a bit more adventurous with different breads, but I have no clue where to start or what to try. Merci bien!

    • Linda

    l’imprimerie sounds divine — I relish good bread. The doggy bag custom is surely relative to culture but at least you’re transporting your own food. Not so keen on recycling bread that others have pawed. (woof :)

    • Janet

    So refreshing to read this happy celebration of good bread while my skinny friends avoid bread as if it’s an un-wise, un-healthy, fattening vice to be shunned. Thank you!

    • witloof

    Sounds as if a trip to Bushwick is in my near future!

    I was delighted to see that someone had recommended a bakery in Portland Maine, and if you’re ever in Lewiston, which is about 30 miles outside of Portland, the best bread I have ever had in the US {and I have lived in NYC, SF, and Berkeley} was at Forage Bakery:

    • Y

    This is just the kind of bakery I wish was in my neighbourhood.

    • kelleyn rothaermel

    You are making me drool! Heaven!

    • Jeanne

    Have you tried Gjusta Venice CA?
    The bread is amazing. It s nice and charred. Even the baguettes are charred on the ends. It is truly as good as what we have had in Paris. Can you recommend a place in Paris to get charred miche. Thanks… Love your writing.

    • Nabeela

    David, you have to come try the French style breads & pastries we make at Manresa Bread one day if you’re ever in Silicon Valley again. I think the kouign Aman we make is the best in the country :)
    Would love to know what you think of it if you ever end up trying it!

    • Sandra

    In different regions of France bread goes by different names but when we lived in Aix en Provence “campagne” was our fave. I was told it was sourdough but sourdough here in canada doesn’t measure up. As for baguette it was either souple or bien cuite, no contest!!

    • Sue Story

    David , Stephanie Izard at Girl and the Goat in Chicago does a fabulous sourdough buy it in the bakery next to the Girl and Goat Diner.

    • May

    Those pictures are making me drool. If only Brooklyn is around the corner as that 3 day leavened loaf sounds amazing. As for the chocolate chip cookies, you must find out the recipe. Being from across the pond, we don’t have quite the understanding nor appreciation for the American cookie but we are learning.

    • Irma S Moss

    The next time you are on Cape Cod head to Falmouth and Maison Villate right on Main Street. Their breads and pastries are 1st rate. And talk about chocolate chip And, yes, they, also, have great coffee with a place to sit either indoors or out. I think you missed Falmouth on your trip last summer; come again..I have the perfect place for you to stay.

    • Dee

    Count me as an American who loves good bread. Growing up, my grandmothers always had homemade yeast rolls with our Sunday dinners.

    • Heidi Yorkshire

    David, that’s a printing press in the window, not a printer.

    • Murray

    Hi David – I finally used a stick of butter for your Cherry Poppy Seed recipe and I must say it tasted better than using a half cup of canola oil. If was firmer and just a little bit less moist but from a flavor point-of-view it was much better. Btw, I hope you are not affected by the recent floods in Paris. Take care…

    • Caroline

    This is so timely! We leave Friday to visit friends who live in Bushwick. We will definitely go to L’imprimerie. Thank you!!

    • Linda

    One way to make authentic French bread in the US is to import the flour from France. That is exactly what the French owners of Peninsula Pastries in Palm Springs CA decided to do. And also why there is a line out the door to get their baguettes. Not to mention their pastries. I am lucky enough to live in France now but when I go home, I don’t have to leave good bread behind.

    Thank you David for the many inspiring and interesting posts you create each month. Tonight, I’m making a regular on our dinner menu, Damn Fine Chicken.

    • Mary @ LOVE the secret ingredient

    Love the story, everything looks fabulous! Next time I’m in the area I’ll be sure to visit.

    • Elise Moser

    Hi David, I am always so happy when you point out some really good bread in North America. Please come to my city, Montreal, where we have lots of wonderful bread and pastries, French-style but also Italian and Arab and lots of fusiony delights. For example you’d love Guillaume and some of the bread and pastries at Mamie Clafouti, we have a couple of pretty good chains such as Première Moisson, and my humble local place, Boulangerie Patisserie l’Algeroise here in Verdun, where along with the excellent bread and croissants and the gold-dusted Arab cookies there are usually various homemade North African treats. I’ll buy you a coffee!

    • Shelley Sorani

    David, I started following your blogs and newsletters because I loved what you wrote about Paris and your recipes (plus those in your books, which I own). But I am really disappointed by all your articles on New York. I know Brooklyn is the latest, greatest but you are the Paris expert and I want to hear from you about that, food, restaurants, places to go, see, buy cookware, brocantes, all the things you know so well and can write so knowledgeably about. I know I’ll get flack about this but Brooklyn? I just don’t care!!!!!

    • Sabrina

    Gorgeous breads and baked goods!!

    • Mona

    My local bakery in CT used to sell great French style bread, the owners had been to Europe and knew their stuff. Now they sold the store to Americans that do not. Now the Miche is always not baked long enough. Why do Americans seem to prefer soggy breads? If I buy artisanal breads I often have to bake them at home for another 10 min.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I linked to an article about the culture of “less cooked” breads in France, which I see happening in bakeries, where they are undercooking the breads due to customer’s requests for it baked that way. Not sure why it is, but it drives me nuts because I like crisp, well-cooked baguettes, and other breads.

    • TL

    Because I am highly suggestible, I went to Bushwick today and got some coffee (delicious), olive oil cake (delicious), and a miche at L’imprimerie. The downer: that loaf of bread is ELEVEN DOLLARS. They don’t even list the miche on the bread board, and now I know why. The bread was indeed wonderful, but are they effing kidding?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, the miche is priced higher than other breads – I bought a miche at Bien Cuit in Brooklyn that was $10 and at Poilâne in Paris, an entire loaf of levain is around €9 – but I thought it was really good. (The breads are priced by weight at L’imprimerie and the miche is very hearty.)

      • ron shapley


    • Kevin

    Americans used to have bread at every meal David. Any time I would visit my grandparents in Indiana they would always have bread and butter on the kitchen table at meal time.

    • Barbara

    Gus has gorgeous hands. The way he cradles that bread ….sigh ….um …. yeah… the bread looks delicious too.

    • Alexandra

    Wow, I can’t believe I never heard of this gorgeous bakery. And I live in Bushwick! *facepalm*

    I think there are 2 major reasons there isn’t enough great, fresh-baked, non-Wonder Bread bread in America:

    1. Americans shop once a week and need a shelf-stable bread that will remain ‘fresh’ for the whole week and beyond, thus opting for bagged, sliced supermarket breads that are full of preservatives.
    2. Many Americans still believe carbs are the devil.

    • ron shapley

    Hi Dave…I’m here now!! There is nothing like great bread..

    • Nadia

    David, thanks to your blog and already having Planned a trip to NY, we took the train to Bushwick to L’Imprimerie. What a charming bakery and baker. Sampled a couple of those CC cookies, lemon poppy seed cake, lemon pistachio bars and a baguette bien cuit (learned about that in Paris last year and I love my bread that way-such flavor and crunch!). We are definitely a bread eating family and I generally find American baked goods too pale. I wanted to sample the almond croissant but they were sold out. Gus came out to chat with us, hearing I was visiting from CA which was a nice surprise and a personal touch! He talked about the honey which is from bees on the roof of his building and we talked about San Francisco where fortunately I can get good bread. The baguette was authentic – crusty and ivory colored with large holes. Perfect with butter, ham and Brie at our picnic while watching The Way We Were in Prospect Park that evening.

    Funny story about recycled bread in Paris. My husband and I were having breakfast and the server came over, grabbed a croissant from our bread basket, bare handed, while we were eating, and took it away. I guess we had one too many on our table. I love Paris!


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