Some regulars got upset that a new proprietor took over Le Bon, but this chocolate-lovers paradise is as good as ever. On offer the other day was a rice bowl–sized chocolate shell filled with hunks of chocolate ganache and fudgy cake drenched with whole-bean vanilla pudding (or so we surmise). We tried to wait for a friend's order to arrive (a pressed panini with tomato, basil and caprese for $7.95) but couldn't — we gobbled down our treat. A dedicated crew bakes up a storm in the back, and this is the result: a generous, rectangular tart underlain with custard and covered with glazed apricots; a sunken-pear tart built upon a layer of almond paste in a crunchy, Scottish, shortbread-like crust; and our favorite, a layered chocolate-caramel tart drizzled with sea salt and poured into a butter crust — each priced at just $3.65. The bestsellers are the croissant stuffed with almond paste and the wonderfully flaky plain croissant. Tiny fruit tarts and one-bite carrot cakes run $1.65, and day-old bags for $1.50 usually contain two pastries. The designer chocolate cakes go fast at about $25, and so do the Parisians and baguettes, both under $3. We sit inside Le Bon, with its warm Old World murals, and stare in amazement across the street, where people buy nasty, chemical-tasting muffins at Starbucks. Even the coffee is superior at Le Bon.

—Jill Stewart

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