Dona Murad and Andre Gerschel married one another thrice through the pandemic: as soon as in Bahrain, as soon as in Central Park, as soon as in France. Nowadays they dwell with each of their mothers in an condo close to Union Square (and additionally in Dubai), and share a gloriously difficult background.
“We both come from a multitude of mixed heritages,” the couple wrote on Instagram, “including Bahraini, Persian, Indian, Moroccan, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian.” Gerschel grew up on the Higher East Facet, went to high school in Canada, and till lately owned a restaurant group based mostly in Dubai. Murad has roots in Mumbai, got here to America for faculty, and runs a espresso roastery in Bahrain.
“It’s sort of like you always feel, ‘where am I from?’ Murad told Gothamist one afternoon last week. “Not in the sense of not belonging anyplace, extra identical to adopting all these cultures into one identification.” In fact, they call themselves “third tradition youngsters,” and they bring every bit of that multi-cross-cultural energy to Librae, their brand new bakery and coffee shop located right on Cooper Square.
“We took elements which might be very Center Eastern, flavors that signify us and locations we love, and added them to a Scandinavian/Danish pastry template,” said Murad. An early hit at Librae is the Loomi, or Black Lime, Babka, which puts the dried fruit, traditionally served in savory stews and biryanis, into a sweet setting, adding sugar and lemon custard to a dense, cupcake-sized sourdough pastry.
The Croissants here are first-rate, with a crackling shell and plenty of light, lovely layers inside. Librae brings out a Rose Pistachio version at times — if you see it behind the counter, order it — and their Pain de Chocolate, complete with espresso glaze, is superb.
Cookies include a Tahini Rye Chocolate Chip, some Chai Shortbread and a Strawberry, Sumac, and Hazelnut Linzer that really puts the spotlight on the headlining fruit. The sleeper hit, though, is Librae’s Frog Snapper, a seeded Danish treat that’s laminated to a crisp and surprisingly sweet.
A pair of savory Morning Buns are often available, one with za’atar and a touch of labneh, another slathered in marmite (famously, an acquired taste, and popular in Bahrain thanks to 150 of English colonialism), ramps, and cheddar. My choice in this department, however, is Librae’s sesame-studded Jerusalem Bagel, which comes with a lot more of that tangy house-strained labneh, olive oil, and enough silk chili strewn about to bring the heat.
There are surprises, too, based on whatever’s going on at the Union Square Greenmarket that day (Rhubarb Danish was a hit during week one), and baguettes, and loaves of bread you can bring home, including an excellent Seeded Sourdough, offered thoughtfully in large and smaller sizes. Challah makes an appearance sometimes as well.
The coffee is all imported from Murad’s roastery in Bahrain, though the couple are pursuing a more local option. They also have plans to use what Gerschel calls their “huge, beautiful kitchen” for guest-chef pop ups and sit-down dinners.
“We speak about Bahrani hospitality, the place espresso homes maintain the identical social worth as bars as a result of individuals do not drink as a lot,” said Gerschel. “That is why we would have liked a dine-in house for Librae. We wish individuals to dwell inside our partitions so long as potential. We introduced this house to life, in the middle of Cooper Square, an incredible location, and we get the privilege to be part of that New York Metropolis power. Jokingly I all the time say ‘please come in and assist your native bakery, until you need one other CVS.'”
Librae Bakery is located at 35 Cooper Square, between East 5th and 6th Streets, and is currently open on Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, and on Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (646-301-6301)