In the largely unpretty Ridgewood/Bushwick border zone, under the M tracks, across from a White Castle, flanked by dollar stores and nail salons, a new bakery is putting out some of the finest loaves this side of Myrtle/Wyckoff.
Gus Reckel is the lanky French longbeard behind L’imprimerie; he arrives at 4:00 a.m. each day to start baking. The little cafe opens early — after one month in business, you’ll already find customers queued up at 6:00 a.m.
On this strip of Myrtle, cell phone and sneaker shops are ubiquitous; good luck finding a baguette. Reckel feels that he’s filling a neighborhood gap. “It is not just hipsters who like this,” he says. “We have customers who work at [Wyckoff] hospital, Latino people, all the people like good bread.”
Reckel is gruff but his eyes twinkle often; he is ever-so-French. He says friends discouraged him from opening in this location, assuming that locals wouldn’t pay seven bucks for levain. But he “bet on the neighborhood” — a smart gamble it would seem.
The interior is Brooklyn handsome: ceiling fans and Edison bulbs and yellow-and-gray pressed tin. The back wall is glass, showcasing Reckel at his monastic baking duties. Near the front windows is a massive old printing press that came with the space — and gave it its name.
Much like Café Moto — the lovely restaurant under the J tracks in Williamsburg — it’s also a top-shelf date spot. Try Moto at night; L’imprimerie hits its stride in sunlight. Make it a 7:00 a.m. bookend to last night’s date, or languish over lunch in the afternoon. After awhile, you stop hearing the M train’s rumble.
L’imprimerie also serves strong Parlor beverages, but Reckel doesn’t think of himself as a coffee shop owner. “Yes, is fine, come get your coffee,” he says with an eye roll. “But really we are about the bread.”
And what bread it is, showcased in a short list of tartines that rotate based on shopping trips to the Co-op. I went for salmon, avocado and microgreens, drizzled with lemon on a small croissant. My companion stayed simple with miel* et beurre on thick, chewy cereal bread. Both were excellent.
Much respect to Reckel, though, for bucking my effusive praise. “The croissants, they were off today. They are okay, maybe, but I must make them poofier,” he says, grimacing.
L’imprimerie is open every day from 6:00 a.m.—7:00 p.m.
*Soon L’imprimerie’s honey will go hyper-local; Reckel has hives on the roof.