In my expanding search for a decent lunch in the East 50s, I headed over to 1st Avenue and was amazed to find Columbus Bakery (somewhere between 54th and 52nd).
They've done a pretty good job of recreating the place, down to the tile mosaic exterior (which was surprising since that was a design leftover from the restaurant that the bakery replaced). They've got also a nice little garden out back.
The crowd however, is entirely different, probably more likely to go to Columbus, Ohio than to the West Side. Not a baby carriage, lap top, or artistic-type in sight.
While the food wasn't amazing (somewhat soggy portobello/veggie sandwich with much more squash than mushroom), the chocolate chip cookie was. Huge, nice balance between crispy and chewy, big hunks of walnuts, hint of brown sugar. Definitely worth the trek.