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An Insider’s Guide to The Tipsy Baker, A Bakery and Bar Concept at Rockefeller Center

By Kate DonnellySep 15 2023
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“Come in the morning for one of the best croissants and one of [the] best cups of coffee. Then, come back for the best glass of wine and the best bites in the evening,” says Uliks Fehmiu, veteran baker and co-founder of The Tipsy Baker, a new dual-concept bakery and bistro-style eatery on the Rink Level of Rockefeller Center.

The Tipsy Baker is part of the Under 30 Rock program, which showcases exclusive offers — all under $30 — from Rockefeller Center’s restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops.

It turns out that Fehmiu, along with his childhood friends and partners Bane Stamenkovic and Vojin Vujošević, already has deep roots in Gotham City. For over 30 years, the trio’s wholesale company, Pain d’Avignon, has supplied a number of Michelin-starred restaurants and hotels with their flavorful, rustic breads. What’s more, the threesome – who grew up in Yugoslavia – also operates several bakery outposts of Café d’Avignon in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The original concept grew out of a Cape Cod warehouse bakery in 1992 and later evolved into a stylish, unfussy café-boulangerie where diners are able to watch the bakers work from a set of giant windows.

At first, the idea of The Tipsy Bakery was – at least judging its founders' accounts – counterintuitive. “We wanted to create a warm space where seemingly opposing concepts — morning and night, coffee and wine, the baker’s counter and the bar — live in harmony,” says Fehmiu.  As for the name of the place, Fehmiu quips, “We wanted to honor the bakers who love to ‘get a little tipsy’ after a long work day.” Certainly, the polished 30-seat space, dotted with cozy tables, rattan benches, curtain-lined windows, and a chic brass-and-stone bar, is a delightful place to enjoy life’s analog pleasures and, if you’re lucky, simply watch time pass by.

Commence your morning with a classic lineup of espresso-based drinks, specialty lattes, and iced coffee, compliments of Stumptown Coffee Roasters. On the counter, you can’t miss the freshly baked grab-and-go Viennoiseries favorites: assorted flakey croissants and pastries, including a delightful cinnamon Kouign-Amann and a lemon honey cornmeal cake. You can also order a Russ & Daughters smoked salmon sandwich or a simple heirloom tomato toast with Maldon salt.

As for the cozy and intimate interiors, well, it might recall a visit to an underground boulangerie. “It feels like Paris in the 1920s, combined with the Rockefeller Center of the 50s and 60s,” adds Fehmiu. At first blush, it feels like a secret, an unassuming hideaway to escape the Midtown crowds.

Drawing on a wealth of its proprietors’ geographical passions, the menu melds together several global influences. “We were surrounded by Germany, Austria, and Hungary on the east, Turkey and Greece from the south, and Italy from the west,” says Fehmiu, referencing the group’s boyhood culinary influences. He also adds that the bakery’s signature artisanal bread nods to the South of France. The bakers use ancient wheat, both “pure and alive” and sans genetic modification, rendering it naturally low in gluten and tolerable to those with sensitivities.

In the kitchen, veteran chefs Andres Grundy (a Queens native) and Finnian Peralta are behind artfully plated small bites such as seared shrimp with romesco, garlic, and Pernod; and charred organic carrots topped with orange oil and chili threads. Large dishes include a seared cobia with braised runner beans and preserved tomato broth alongside a crispy pork belly with red wine, fennel bulb, and braised piquillo peppers.

Pop by the bar for a Persian aubergine spread and a glass of crisp Croatian white wine. “The menu will constantly evolve, and we’ll always add things according to the season,“ says Stamenkovic, who notes that staples like the Turkish schnitzel and a hamburger (on a Pain d’Avignon brioche bun with local gouda) will always be in the rotation. To drink, general manager and beverage director Ben Kaufman’s sustainable and biodynamic global wine list also extends to mocktails and locally brewed New York beer; it will soon include forthcoming libations riffing on Rockefeller Center’s old-school, Art Deco glamour.

“It wasn’t easy. We didn’t want to give up our identity of being bakers and coffee makers,” says Fehmiu. Mission accomplished. Because at its heart, The Tipsy Baker is a place where you can float morning-into-noon-into night with the best of everything.

The Tipsy Baker is open on the Rink Level of 30 Rockefeller Plaza on Monday from 7am to 12pm and Tuesday through Sunday from 7am to 3pm. It’s also one of the participating retailers in the Under 30 Rock program.

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