Normally, I'm not a big advocate for chains. Outside of an annual visit to McDonald's and an admitted fondness for Ikea, I try to frequent small and/or locally-owned businesses whenever possible, particularly when it comes to all things food-related.
That said, I might just be in love with Bouchon Bakery. It sits in the closest thing Manhattan has to a mall (the Time Warner Center), and it's an offshoot of the original in Yountville, but that doesn't make its coffee any less delicious or its pastries any less divine.
Part of Thomas Keller's ever-expanding empire, Bouchon Bakery features coffee, pastries, sandwiches, salads and soups. Everything looks delicious, but I can't ever seem to make it past the macarons. They slay me every time.
The caramel is my favorite, but I try to work at least one seasonal flavor into the mix on each visit. Today, they had raspberry, and lemon with chocolate buttercream. Neither of these was enough to tear me away from my beloved caramel, but I feel confident saying they were both delicious.
Seriously, go buy a macaron, as soon as possible. Bring some home, and your family will be your slaves. For reals.