If you haven’t been to Union Fare, Union Square’s new food market that opened this June, you should move it to the top of your bucket list. From a fully loaded cocktail bar—where you can drink classy cocktails with co-workers during a guilt-free happy hour—to their beautiful restaurant filled with overhead lights and a gastrohall, this place has much to offer New York City. Think mouth-watering personal pizza, trendy poké, salads, burgers and tacos—but they shouldn’t be the main reason you visit. The star of the show are the bakery’s croissants.
Move over, Dominique Ansel. The cronut is old news, and the pastry king may soon have to share his thrown with Union Fare’s Executive Pastry Chef, Thiago Silva, and his game-changing croissants. No newcomer to the scene, Silva has cooked for celebs and on Chopped. His list of accolades is a lengthy one, including Zagat’s 30 Under 30 in 2013, Dessert Professional Magazine’s ‘Top Ten Pastry Chefs in North America’ of 2015, and People Magazine’s ’14 Sexiest Chefs in America’ in 2015. It’s no surprise then that Union Fare owner William Kim considers himself incredibly blessed to have such an innovator in his bakery, one who came in guns blazing.
With all the overwhelming doughnut hybrid trends of today, Silva thought the world needed something truly new and fresh out of the oven. So he saw our wacky doughnuts and raised us crazy croissants, creating a richer, more buttery incarnation of dessert flavors we know and love well. His croissants flavors span from red velvet, creme brûlée, matcha and cookies and cream, to the most popular, birthday cake/funfetti. Here’s what you can expect from all of them:
I was surprised at how sweet this was, given how unsweet matcha usually tastes. It’s filled with a creamy matcha filling and topped with matcha powder that tastes like it has been sweetened with confectioner’s sugar. In my experience, matcha can have an overwhelming and off-putting taste, but these croissants do not. You still get the matcha flavor, but without the bitterness. If you’re already a matcha fan, you’ll absolutely love the combo of light and healthy matcha in a rich and hearty croissant.
Cookies & Cream
I expected this to be my favorite given my love for everything of that flavor. It was, surprisingly, not my favorite, but it did far from disappoint. This croissant was totally lost in the Oreo-like flavor, but I didn’t mind it one bit. The filling is like eating slightly melted Breyer’s Oreo flavored ice cream—one of my favorites—and is enough to satisfy any sweet tooth. The white glaze topping, while a little too sweet on its own, compliments the pastry perfectly.
You know the moment when you eat something so good your eyes roll back in their sockets and you can’t think straight? This one gave me that moment. I’m usually not a big red velvet fan, so I was surprised when I bit into this croissant and enjoyed it so much. It’s topped with red velvet cake crumbles and filled with an incredibly smooth cream cheese filling, similar flavors to what you’d find on a traditional red velvet cake or cupcake. When eaten alone, the filling can taste a bit more cheesy than sweet, but when eaten with the pastry as intended, you’ll feel like you’ve gone to food heaven. I even found myself picking at the extra crumble topping pieces that fell off, they were that good.
This was definitely the messiest of the bunch. But sticky hands are well worth the muck for this shiny masterpiece. Picking this croissant up reminded me of eating a sticky bun. It’s covered in a caramel-like shell that’s been hardened just like a real creme brûlée’s top. Its also filled with pastry cream and somehow still soft enough to bite into. The slightly crackly top gives way to layers of flakey croissant and a creamy center to create the ultimate salty-sweet bite.
#SpoonTip: I took one home and sprinkled it with sea salt. It made the already incredible bite out-of-this-world good. Trust me, the simple addition is one you’ll want to try.
This croissant is lauded as Union Fare’s most popular flavor, filled with a festive pink funfetti frosting and sprinkled with what the Chef Silva calls “fairy dust.” And it’s just as delectable as the other flavors; the frosting is sweet but not too sweet, and is a perfect match for the funfetti dough. The pink “fairy dust” boosts the sweetness just enough to make it feel more like a dessert than breakfast pastry.
Come for the croissants and stay for, well, anything really. Seriously, try them all. I recommend coming with a group, ordering one of each and passing them around. But come early because those birthday cake croissants sell out fast. And if one visit isn’t enough, which I’m guessing it won’t be, return and venture past the bakery for a cocktail, a quick bite or a long, romantic meal.