Arts restaurant review

Levain Bakery comes to Boston

Levain brings its classic lineup of cookies as well as a selection of breads, cakes, and scones to Boston’s Newbury Street.

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Levain's classic chocolate chip walnut cookie at their new Boston storefront.
Jamie Fu–The Tech

Levain Bakery
Bakery, $
180 Newbury St
Boston, MA 02116
8 a.m.–8 p.m. Daily

Levain, a New York-based bakery established in 1995 by Pam Weekes and Connie McDonald, opened its first Boston location on Newbury Street on Feb. 19. Levain’s first cookie and most popular item, the walnut chocolate chip, has enamored millions around the globe. Levain currently fields eight locations, with five in New York and two in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.

We had a chance to speak with Victor de Paz Calvo, Vice President of Operations at Levain Bakery, on opening weekend. When asked about their choice of location on Newbury Street, he chuckled. “Look around,” he said. “[There’s an] insane amount of people.” Sure enough, right behind us was a line stretched around the block. We overheard quite a few customers justifying their decision to stand for nearly two hours in the Boston cold to try the world-famous cookies.

Beyond having great-tasting cookies, Calvo stressed the importance of incorporating parts of their local community into each of their bakeries. Their classic New York oatmeal raisin scones, for example, are oatmeal cranberry scones here, with craisins sourced directly from Boston-area farms.

“We look for more local ingredients and local charities,” Calvo shared. In fact, Levain donated all of its opening day proceeds to Women's Lunch Place just down the street. 

“As busy as we are, it’s a fun place to be,” he notes at the end of our interview. “It’s a place that [welcomes you]. You have fun, [and] you get that fresh-baked cookie.” 

We did, in fact, get that fresh-baked cookie. After our interview, we sampled a number of Levain’s signature cookies and bakery items, delivered to us straight from the oven. Of the cookies, we tasted the chocolate chip walnut, oatmeal raisin, and dark chocolate peanut butter chip. According to my co-writer Mindy, the perfect chocolate chip cookie melts in your mouth, and Levain’s chocolate chip walnut did just that. The dough and walnuts were not very sugary, and they offset the subtle sweetness of the chocolate. Levain’s cookies are also notorious for being quite thick and dense, which became evident as soon as we opened our box of goodies. As we sank our teeth into our first bite, we found five or six layers of melting chocolate on our tongues. Despite its size, the cookie was not overdone and, in my (Jamie’s) words, “perfectly moist.”

The dark chocolate peanut butter chip and oatmeal raisin were on par with the classic as well, although Mindy seemed to prefer the peanut butter cookie. “The first thing that hits me is the smoothness, the creaminess of the peanut butter. I’ve never had peanut butter chips that melt like this,” she marveled. I, however, must stick with the original.

Next, we tried the banana chocolate chip loaf cake. The banana overwhelmed our taste buds. I don’t know how they did it, but it was as if Levain managed to squeeze at least five bananas into a normal-sized loaf of bread. By then, we were absolutely stuffed but still managed to share a loaf of pumpkin ginger spice cake and an oatmeal cranberry scone with some friends. This may go without saying, but we recommend eating Levain’s bakery items while they are warm. Although still delicious, they have a tendency to become a little dry and heavy after being left out. If, however, you simply cannot finish your Levain haul in one sitting, one way to recreate the fresh-baked taste is by reheating the items in the oven.

Don’t be deterred by the lines. Levain’s bakery items are more than worth it. If you haven’t tried this New York classic yet, here’s your sign to try it now. A transformative culinary experience lies just across the Harvard Bridge. Whether you’re a cookie lover or looking for more refined baked goods such as scones and buns, Levain offers them all.