Battle of the Biscuits: Clinton Street Baking Company Vs Cafe Pedlar
Clinton Street Baking Co.'s biscuit (left) rubs shoulders with Cafe Pedlar's equally hulking specimen.
While plenty of restaurants have buttermilk biscuits on their menus, it's relatively rare to find two equally monolithic specimens located almost directly across the street from one another. Since 2001, Clinton Street Baking Company has been serving a biscuit of almost unparalleled fame, renowned for its voluptuous measurements and tender, almost ethereal crumb. Cafe Pedlar, which is located on the same block of Clinton Street, albeit on the opposite side, opened last August, and has a biscuit on its menu that's so hulking and formidable that it seems almost a direct challenge to its more established counterpart. Obviously, this is the sort of situation that all but begs for a biscuit battle.
Cross-sections: Cafe Pedlar is on the left, Clinton Street on the right.
Clinton Street Baking Company Price: $2 Weight: 4.7 ounces Extras: a gratis container of raspberry jam Provenance: made in-house
Cafe Pedlar Price: $3 Weight: 5 ounces Extras: none Provenance: made at the Frankies Bake Shop in Carroll Gardens
A Taste and Textural Comparison
Both biscuits carried considerable heft and an impressive crust, though only Clinton Street's had that beautiful golden-brown hue that often connotes superior biscuit craftsmanship. Cafe Pedlar's was more on the uniformly pale side, though still looked incredibly appealing. Structurally, the latter was also far more sound, proving itself impermeable during transport while Clinton Street's cracked and crumbled. When sliced in half cross-wise, it was easy to see why: Cafe Pedlar's biscuit had a tight, dense crumb similar to that of a muffin, while the Clinton Street biscuit's pliant, flakey innards were generously pocked with holes that had been created during baking by chunks of butter turning into steam.
Although Clinton Street had a more classically biscuity texture, taste-wise, Cafe Pedlar was a more than worthy competitor. It was slightly sweet but had just enough salt to give its flavor some dimension, and was an excellent receptacle for butter. The crumb, though dense, was actually quite tender, albeit more muffin-like than we like a biscuit to be. Clinton Street's biscuit was a more savory one, pleasantly salty and tasting more obviously of butter. There was also more of a flavor contrast between its crumb and crust, whose golden-brown tan was matched by a slightly toasty taste. Where Cafe Pedlar's biscuit would be a great partner for butter and jam, Clinton Street's all but begs to be smothered by bacon, eggs, and cheddar.
Both of these were excellent biscuits. But if you're a traditionalist who prefers a biscuit whose taste and texture recall plenty of butter and low-protein flour, Clinton Street's biscuit has the edge, and wins this biscuit battle. But while it continues its nine-year reign over its block, its neighbor proves a very worthy challenger to the crown.
Clinton Street Baking Company 4 Clinton Street 646-602-6263
Cafe Pedlar 17 Clinton Street 212-253-2303
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