New Kid on the Block: Ole & Steen opens today

Ole & Steen, the Danish bakery chain that opened its first cafes here in 2019, has opened its fourth location at 100 Church on the corner of Barclay. It has taken over the former Aroma space and should do it one better with loaves to go. There will be lots of giveaways today if you head over early

It happens that I was just in Copenhagen and so I went to the mothership to check it out. The Danes are masters at the sandwich, — both open face and closed — and I could only hope that they have the perfect avocado and hummus on the compact little rye and pepita roll that I had there. But what do you bet it’s a bit too dense and seedy for what they imagine Americans would want. (I actually think Tribecans would love it.)

(The cafes over there are called Lagkagehuset, for layer-cake-house, since their first building looks like a yellow layer cake.)

The press preview offered sour cream and Nova on the soft grain rye sliced very thin — the square brown bread below called Rugbrød — and that is a great order if they include it on the menu. The Danes love their sweet breakfasts, and the Cinnamon Social is super gooey — it’s filled with a vanilla custard and the cinnamon sugar is in paste form *and* there’s icing! — and makes no apologies for its sweetness. It’s not a sophisticated offering, more of a guilty pleasure.

A slice of that is $5.45; a small coffee is $3.25; a breakfast sandwich is $7; a chicken BLT “toastie” is $12. They bake their breads and pastries off site at a facility in Maspeth, Queens, and deliver everything in the morning.

The breakfast sandwiches I’ve had uptown are excellent and made fresh, and the lunch order in my book will be the “Smørrebrød” — the open faced savory sandwiches. The photo below is mine from the Flatiron cafe, with the potato salad and the Rueben.

I am pretty disappointed the company added stickers to the sidewalk, which is a huge pet peeve of mine these days. It is illegal AND they never ever go away, evidenced by the stupid 6-foot spacing stickers that no one ever used left over from fall 2020. Plus they would never do that in Denmark!

Their head baker here is formerly of Maison Kayser and Dean & Deluca — so not in fact from the Danish tradition. He has designed the fancier pastries, such as the Copenhagener, rectangular with an almond cream filling and covered in poppy seeds.

The interior design is super simple and neutral, and the best addition was the barstools in all the windows so you can watch the world go by.

My last pet peeve, though really, they are not alone here: I hope they offer drinks in real cups. I am so tired of going to every coffee shop and being forced to drink out of a disposable paper cup with a plastic lid, even when I am staying put. It’s not just Ole & Steen, it’s everyone. Laughing Man even uses *two* paper cups! Sorry for the rant, but that one week in Copenhagen make it pretty clear that we can do better.

Ole & Steen
100 Church at Barclay
7a to 8p


1 Comment

  1. I love Ole & Steen. The breads are great, the cinnamon swirls are delicious and the sandwiches are good. I do share your pet peeve about paper coffee cups. As mostly an espresso drinker I find it ruins the experience drinking from a to go cup.