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Jun 24, 2006 11:52 PM

Columbus Avenue Boulangerie now open.

Not sure when it happened, but Pascal Rigo's latest venture, the Boulangerie in the old Ben & Jerry's/Sophie's Crepes space (Columbus between Green and Union), has opened. I happened upon it too late to check it out this afternoon, but it was full of customers.

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  1. That's great news. I'm rarely in the vicinity of the other Bay Bread Boulangeries around town, but I can easily add this one to my rotation.

    What are your (and others') favorite items there, and how do they compare with similar items at Tartine or DeLessio?

    5 Replies
    1. re: david kaplan

      Bay Bread on Pine Street does have excellent canneles, dark and crusty. As for the breakfast pastries such as croissants, pain au chocolate, pain au raisin, it doesn't compare to Tartine. Bay Bread is a commissionary bakery while Tartine is an on-site. Tartine's are flakier, baked darker for more flavor and crispness. They also bake in small batches so that they are very fresh and the butter has not had a chance to congealed. It's not a knock on Bay Bread who has good pastries but I think Tartine has the best croissant in San Francisco.

      1. re: PBSF

        I agree with you generally about Tartine's breakfast pastries being superior to Bay Bread, although I'll add the caveat that I am partial to Delanghe. However, the problem with Tartine's almond croissant is that it's a mess with runny almond cream/paste and it's not twice baked. Here's a clip from an archived post

        that explains how the best almond croissants are made, and Bay Bread is much closer to that ideal.

        " 1764 days ago garçon replied

        I'm a HUGE fan, and haven't had a decent one in California, ever!! I will have to go to this boulangerie ASAP. The only decent croissants aux amandes I've had in the US were from the Madeleine boulangerie and cafeteria chain in Houston (whith outlets all over Texas and some of the southwest). La Madeleine is tightly run by a French chef. It is what crappy chains like Boudin aspire to be.

        I grew up in Paris, living within walking distance of about a dozen pâtisseries and would get at least four or five a week, preferably from the one place that did it best and whose almond croisants always warranted walking five additional blocks. That pâtisserie had one of the best almond croissant I've ever had, and I must have tried about 200-300 pâtisseries all over France in my lifetime. I'd get other things from other places, each had one or two items they did very well.

        They start as stale, day old butter croissants (much like bread pudding.) Those croissants au beurre are a little bigger than the regular croissants and are rolled but baked straight, as opposed to the regular ones which are bent into crescent shapes. The day olds are stuffed with almond filling, soaked with milk and topped with almond slivers. The croissants actually taste better when they start with stale, dry croissants. I think most of the ones I've had here aren't recycled croissants, so perhaps that was one of many reasons they didn't taste quite right. Since it's a fairly elaborate process, there are a lot of variants and as such, croissants aux amandes differ greatly from one pâtisserie to another, much more so than other classics like tartes aux pommes or plain croissants. It is one of the bellweathers by which one can judge the skill of the maître pâtissier.

        I actually prefer the pains au chocolat aux amandes, which are recycled pains au chocolat (refered to in the US as "chocolate croissants"). The chocolate rod inside goes very well with the almond filling.

        OK, enough babbling, I'm off to Polk street!"

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          has anyone tried the croissants from Tartine, Bay Bread, AND Delessio's on Market recently? my boyfriend was really addicted to the ones from Delessio's and thought them better than Bay Bread's but we've never gotten the ones at Tartine

          1. re: Trill

            Not recently. Here's a thread on chocolate croissants from last fall.

            I like DeLessio's breakfast pastries a lot also. I don't go there specifically for croissants, but will get a croissant when I'm picking up other things.

            The problem I have with Tartine is some lack of consistency in the croissants, also the sheer size and breadiness of them. In a butter croissant, I prefer smaller and crustier. Now, that size is an advantage for the ham and cheese croissant, where Tartine is my favorite. It's truly a bargain and will fill you up for breakfast AND lunch.

            1. re: Trill

              Are you talking plain or chocolate, Trill?

              My experience hasn't been all that recent, but I tried plain at all three and Delessio's remains my favorite. So I'm with your boyfriend there. Bay Bread second, nothing great but not bad. Tartine is a tried it once, that's enough experience.

              I'm getting really into Citizen Cake lately. Has anyone tried the croissants there?

      2. My favorites from the Rigo empire are the almond croissant (skip the plain) and the canneles.

        In April there was some concern about the cannele not being up to snuff. Two weeks ago I tried them again from the Boulange de Polk and am happy to report that they're fine. But I did leave one blondish-looking one in the case taking the two brown and crusty ones . . .

        Felice's post on cannele variability:

        1. Anyone know if the same selection of items (or close to the same) can be found at all of the Boulangeries? I'm wondering about the macaroons in particular, but everything else in general.

          1. My understanding is that Rigo partners with an on-site owner who runs that location and its that owner who chooses menu/offerings.

            Cafe du Soleil, the Rigo outpost in my 'hood, is a prime example of this -- the owner places his orders with the "commissary" (some stuff comes from the bakery, some from the Chez Nous kitchen) every day so what few things I haven't been able to lobby on the daily offerings menu, I can pre-order the day before.

            1. Anyone who likes really likes a well-made croissant and danish should seek out Destination Baking Co. on Chenery in Glen Park. Fantastic bearclaw too.

              Tartine's are too big and messy, but they're tasty.