I gripped By The Way Bakery's signature rolling pin handle on the door and thankfully pulled it open to cross into the inviting interior. I was drawn in by the pretty, clean space set apart from the backdrop of gray slush that was Broadway. Floor-length windows offered a view from a small standing counter and a tasteful, minimalist blue line wrote itself across the ceiling. All of this contributed to a welcoming atmosphere on the cold winter day.
When I noticed the uniquely-shaped business cards that looked like present tags and mason jar lamps around the counter, it hit me: I like old-fashioned, and I kept my fingers crossed that their gluten-free, dairy-free food would taste that way, too.
I wasn't disappointed. By The Way Bakery certainly has its classics available with its brownies and chocolate chip cookies. While I didn't find the brownies or chocolate chip cookies especially memorable—the brownies were crusty and could have been smoother, and the chocolate chip cookies made little impression beyond “vaguely stale” in my mind. It all becomes just mind blowing when you remember that there's no flour holding this cookie together, and no milk to add moisture or flavor with its fat. It should be noted, though that the bakery does use eggs. This is an old-fashioned bakery, but with so many modern hoops to jump through that it's impressive their pastries taste the way they do.
In the Manhattan store—the original location is in Westchester—By The Way Bakery has the ever-changing Slice of the Day cake, which happened to be coconut cloud when I visited. The cake was not as fine as angel food, but was still soft, and flavored just as strongly with vanilla—albeit perhaps with more extract than actual beans. The most impressive thing about the cake was that it—while not drenched with syrup—was still extremely moist, helped perhaps by the three layers of icing that cut prettily through the cross-section. Adorned with half a centimeter's worth of icing on the top and finished with thick coconut shavings, the chewiness of the flakes worked well with the texture of the soft cake, and especially tasted great when the creaminess of the icing really hit midway through a few chews.
The almond cookie, though, was truly exceptional. It won an award when tested at the bakery's other location , and I could completely see why. Crusty on the outside, it was dusted with powdered sugar and decorated with a sliver of unblanched almond. The crunch greets you while the center takes on a nougat-like consistency at the first few chews before melting into a molasses -like consistency on your tongue. If you get anything at this store, it should be this cookie.
Take a morning run down to By The Way Bakery to get a batch of freshly-delivered goods straight from the Westchester bakery and pair it with a cup of Stumptown coffee or their selection of Mighty Leaf tea. If you are in the mood for something more creative, try one of the bakery's lemon tea cakes or orange almond cake. The By The Way Bakery turned around my prejudice against what I thought was tasteless, crumbly gluten-free and dairy-free baked goods.
By The Way Bakery is located at 2442 Broadway, between 90th and 91st streets.