As a child, pastry chef Pichet Ong fondly remembers dessert as the first and last bite of every day. Raised by serious home bakers and pastry aficionados, dessert was celebrated, never restricted. Later formally trained as an architect, Ong uses all of his influences as he designs and re-masters family favorites at the Upper West Side bistro, bakery, and confection shop, Sugar and Plumm.
"Deconstructing and constructing in your own way is what baking is like to me," he explains while breaking into a fresh chocolate chip cookie. The chocolate in the cookie is still melting, the crisp edges sturdily supporting a dense, chewy center; this is a chocolate chip cookie that is perfectly true to form.
The bright and open space is colored in purple and sparkles, with candy lining the display windows at kid level, sure to draw in Upper West Side families. Even the cakes are finished with a bit of sparkle dusting, adding glitter to a bakery case that's also filled with cookies croissants, ice creams, and chocolates.
This location of Sugar and Plumm is the flagship store for the company, and the first in New York City (there is another location in Paramus, New Jersey.) Open since mid-August, the expansive multi-use space also serves as a full service bistro, serving full breakfast, lunch, dinner, and cocktails.
Creative construction and familial nostalgia is at the heart of each piece in Pichet's collection. A reinvention on tiramisu becomes the Tiramisu Affogato, where a freshly pulled espresso is poured over the dessert upon serving. (Emphasis on fresh—Ong hates the taste of stale coffee so often present in this dessert). The Chocolate Caramel Cake consists of alternating layers of chocolate cake, caramel chips, caramel, and chocolate Bavarian cream. While French in style, it also undeniably evokes a Snickers candy bar; a realized Halloween candy fantasy you never knew you had.
The dessert menu in the bistro is divided into specialty milkshakes, crepes, sundaes, and featured desserts, while the bakery offers a mix of classic American and French pastry. New desserts are added regularly (the Tiramisu Affogato was premiered just two weeks ago), and the shop will soon go into holiday mode.
Click through the slideshow to see some of Pichet's latest creations.