Kneads Met

Pain d'Avignon is the belle of the breadbasket

Though the LES has no dearth of baked goods, the options have been primarily the carbs of the Old World: matzo, knishes and bialys.

But with the opening of wholesale bakery Pain d'Avignon's first retail shop, in the Essex Street Market, locals gained a source for a wider range of breads.

The small stall is already brimming with more than 50 types of naturally fermented loaves lining the shelves. Pain d'Avignon's offerings range from a critically acclaimed baguette to the best brioche we've ever tasted. And fresh replenishments from the company's Queens headquarters come in thrice daily, ensuring that you'll never come across a stale crumb.

But it's not just variety that has us excited: The bakery has a reputation for excellence and fills the breadbaskets of some of New York's most esteemed restaurants, including Corton and Eleven Madison Park.

That the bakery starts with pristine ingredients–unbleached, unbromated flour, sea salt and filtered water–doesn't hurt, but co-founder Uliks Fehmiu insists that the most precious component is time: Each loaf of his bread typically takes 24 to 36 hours to make.

This translates into loaves with unparalleled character: A pane Francese boasts a perfectly pliant center, while a crackly ciabatta with a chewy crumb is the ideal foundation for a sandwich.

It's a good thing, then, that sandwiches (along with espresso and pastries) will soon make their debut.

Pain D'Avignon, Essex Street Market, 120 Essex St. (at Delancey St.); 212-673-4950 or paindavignon-nyc.com