In the heart of SoHo, surrounded by designer boutiques, art galleries, and artists’ lofts, you will find Sweet Rehab, one of the city’s most well-known French patisseries. While the opening of the dessert bar came at an inopportune time (January 2020, right before COVID devastated New York’s eating scene), it has thrived and exceeded the expectations of its founder, French Executive Chef David Zaquine. Word has quickly spread of the little gem where all desserts are made “a la minute” and customers can watch through an open kitchen as chefs make their orders from beginning to end. The combination of traditional French desserts and an immersive, interactive culinary experience has proved irresistible for New Yorkers, so we popped in one late afternoon to see for ourselves why Sweet Rehab is not your traditional bakery – and to taste their well-known truffle and caviar madeleines.
We were in luck, as Chef David and Anne Hirsch, his associate, were in the kitchen and agreed to give us a tour of the space. No matter where we were, the smell of pastries, chocolate, strawberries, and, let’s just call it what it is – heaven – was in the air.
Interior at Sweet Rehab. Credit: Nicole Franzen
“Our luxury French dining experience begins the moment you walk through the door,” Chef David explained. “We designed everything so that customers will feel transported to Paris – from the brass fixtures to the intimate marble tables for two and vibrantly colored, exotic wallpaper featured throughout the dining area, bathroom and outdoor terrace.” Sweet Rehab gives you the chance to step into a different culture and indulge in the finest French pastries all without leaving America.
The Sweet Rehab experience starts with the menu, Chef David continued. “We have so much to offer our customers that they may not have experienced before, so we give them a freshly-made sample first. We then describe each dessert on the menu and offer personalized assistance to foster a welcoming environment where clients feel confident about their dessert decisions.”
Those dessert choices include Sweet Rehab’s original creation and biggest hit: caviar and truffle madeleines. The salty caviar butter-infused madeleines are topped with Petrossian Daurenki caviar and served with a light, sugar-free lime mascarpone chantilly cream. The truffle madeleines are similarly delicious; they are imbued with French truffle butter and topped with freshly grated black and white Perigord truffle, salted honey, and sea salt. We tasted both and were blown away by the flavor. They recommend pairing these delectable treats with a suitable champagne or tea blend. We tasted both and loved the flavor.
Black & White Truffle Madeleines. Credit: Evang Sung
Also on the menu are different flavored tarts, eclairs, mille feuilles, and cake jars (deconstructed versions of Sweet Rehab’s tarts). For bread lovers, Executive Bread Chef Antoine Bernard, created a unique brioche feuilletée made of croissant dough in a variety of sweet and salty flavors. This buttery loaf of heaven has become an addiction for many New Yorkers, and people now queue in the mornings to get theirs!
Brioches Feuilletées by Executive Bread Chef Antoine Bernard. Credit: Evan Sung
“Each weekend, we offer a special viennoiserie; for instance, last week we did a chocolate praline hazelnut brioche, and this week, I have been working on a lime and passion fruit baba,” Chef Antoine said, sitting down with us at a little table. “We have everything you could find in a traditional French bakery right here in New York.”
As the Chefs get to work, making each dessert from scratch, customers can drink Mariage Frères tea, the most established, luxurious brand of French tea. “It’s served in all five-star hotels and palaces in France and is the official tea served at L’Élysée,” Chef David explained. “We have become famous for carrying this tea because it is nearly impossible to find in the U.S.”
French pastries paired with Mariage Frères tea. Credit: Evan Sung
Sweet Rehab has become so popular in only a few years, Chef David continued, that they have begun expanding and introduced a line of cookies, offering over fifteen flavors. “There will be something for everyone,” he said, “whether they want gluten-free, dairy-free, chocolate chip, 30% less sugar, or nut-free. We’re even going to have frozen cookies, so you’ll be able to take home a pack of fifty and bake them at home. Can you imagine your kitchen smelling like this every day? Trust me, we’ve got your cravings for cookies covered.”
Chef David also revealed that they recently recruited a new Bread Chef, Nelson Decruyenaere, from France and have been working on creating a brunch menu. The brunch will offer two prix-fixe menus, including savory dishes such as caviar and truffle eggs, smoked salmon with blinis, ceviche sandwiches and traditional French viennoiserie and bread baskets. “Of course, all courses will be accompanied by bubbles!” Anne happily said, alluding to their recently obtained liquor license.
Pastry Chef David and Bread Chef Antoine both have over fifteen years of experience in some of the most highly respected restaurants and establishments in France and New York, including the Plaza Athénéé in Paris, Le Cinq at the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris, and Bagatelle in New York.
“Working in these places was incredibly exciting,” Chef David remembered. “I, however, have always wanted to be an entrepreneur and have dreamed of becoming a group. I planned every single detail of Sweet Rehab for 5 years. New York is full of people who enjoy French food, in particular, our pastries and bread, so opening the first store here was a natural fit.”
Sweet Rehab offers dine-in, take-out, and delivery until midnight. It makes for long hours on some days, but Chef David doesn’t mind.
“It’s challenging but also thrilling to manage a bakery and have everything run smoothly, especially during the rush peak times,” Manager Anne shared. “I love my job, and I adore my team; we are like a family here!”
At the end of a wonderful experience at Sweet Rehab, the team offered us morning treats to share with family and friends. “Food, especially desserts, is a wonderful way to bring people together,” David said. “At Sweet Rehab, we meet all kinds of individuals who simply appreciate a delicious pastry. I am very proud of my team and how our work allows our clients to enjoy a taste of France right here in New York.”
Sweet Rehab, located in Soho, New York, is a luxurious French patisserie known for its upscale, elegant desserts, viennoiseries, truffle and caviar madeleines, and impressive selection of French Champagne and Mariage Frères tea. With an open kitchen, customers get to watch as Chefs prepare the delicacies in front of them “a la minute.” The Chefs at Sweet Rehab have over fifteen years of experience in Michelin-starred restaurants and establishments in France and New York City. Sweet Rehab provides dine-in, take-out, and delivery and is open until midnight.
For more information on Sweet Rehab, please contact:
Anne Hirsch, Operations Director
sweetrehabnyc.com | @sweetrehabny