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Weeping for a Good Croissant

I don't mean to be a snob, but I think the responses to this post may perhaps be limited to those who have actually been to France and know what a REAL croissant tastes and feels like...I'm talking real butter, I'm talking fresh and not from some plant out in Jersey (no chains like Au Bon Pain, Dean & Deluca...). And "shatter effect" is crucial (if you've had a real one, you know what I mean).

I have already sampled the croissants at Balthazar and was surprisingly disappointed--squishy and even a little tough. Ce-Ci Ce-La was better, though they don't seem very consistent. I've even gone first thing in the morning for what I thought would be the freshest offering.

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  1. have you tried the adore?
    17 e. 13th st btwn 5th ave and university

    go early in the morning so you don't get ones that have been sitting out, although they do tend to sell out.

    the pain au chocolat here is also my favorite.

    1. Try Patisserie Claude or La Bergamote. There's also a new pastry shop, Tisserie, near Union Square. I don't think they have the shatter effect you're looking for.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Lucia

        I second Patisserie Claude. While you are there, do yourself a favor and pick up a pain au chocolat. Next time you go to Paris you will find that the pain au chocolat there does not quite measure up to Claude's.

        1. re: Desidero

          Claude, Claude, Claude (though he is on vacation right now.)

          He can be a little grumpy, but don't let that stop you. If you have enough high-school French to muster a polite greeting, more's the better, but go anyway. His pastries are divine.

          Patisserie Claude
          187 W 4th St
          New York, NY 10014
          212-255-5911

      2. The only true French-style croissant that I've had in the U.S. I baked myself -- I think from a Julia Child recipe. They were terrific, but a royal pain in the butt to make. It's easier just to fly to Paris (and takes about the same amount of time).

        1. Patisserie Claude. He is back from his month summer vacation on August 4th.

          He is there seven days a week the other eleven months, making the best crosissants (and great pain au chocolat) I've had in the city, and better than I was able to find in France.

          3 Replies
          1. re: DavyTheFatBoy

            Thanks for that--I'll try one of his croissants next weekend.

            1. re: DavyTheFatBoy

              I'm not a Claude fan. Based on Tisserie's other offerings, I'm not too excited about trying their croissants. I like Ceci-Cela, never noticed a consistency problem, and like the OP, never liked Balthazar. Almondine in Dumbo makes good ones. Fauchon's are very nice as are Financier's. Payard Patisserie has good stuff, also Petrossian Cafe. If you do a search, you'll see many croissant posts from the past, and it hasn't changed much.

              1. re: Peter Cuce

                I've not eaten croissants for a while, but I remember liking the ones at Payard.

            2. You have to try Financier Patisserie in lower manhattanit is just what you are looking for.I think they have 3 locations.. but go to the one at 62 stone street,It's really nice.Go early,the delicious croissants run out fast.

              1. And I am looking for an excellent Almond Croissant (Croissant aux amandes) in NYC. They are my absolute favorite.

                5 Replies
                1. re: akp

                  Just like a broken record - Patisserie Claude.

                    1. re: Greg

                      Absolutely not. Plus their version of a chocolate croissant has a weird mousse as a filling. I was appalled.

                      1. re: Pupster

                        Perhaps I should have clarified that I was suggesting Falai's almond croissant, which I think is pretty good. The only pastry I've had from Falai that had chocolate in it was their pear and chocolate croissant. I think they stew their pears which could explain the "weird mousse." This pastry does not measure up, in any way, to Claude's chocolate croissant.

                    2. re: akp

                      Tartine (in W. Village) has a wonderful almond croissant.

                    3. I'm fond of J'Adore, a cafe, patisserie, sandwich place on 23rd St. just west of 5th Ave. Light and wonderfully flakey. I'm not a big fan of Celi-Cela either.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: xavier

                        What they have is not a croissant, and shouldn't be called one. (Not a criticism though I'm not fond of it.)

                        In addition to all named, Marquet Patisserie also has good croissants.

                        1. re: Pupster

                          "What they have is not of croisant": can you explain this? They look an taste like croissants to me.

                          I believe Marquet doesn't bake on site. They prepaare most of their goods in Brooklyn and deliver them. Hence your odds of getting a fresh croissant are slim.

                          1. re: xavier

                            Since I get my Marquet croissants in Brooklyn, it's not a problem.

                            As for the J'adore pastry, it has more of a phyllo dough texture, very little butter, drier and flakier. No more a croissant than a American crescent roll is a croissant. If you like it, fine, but it's not a croissant.

                            1. re: Pupster

                              I have to agree with Pupster that J'Adore's croissant matches neither the type the OP or I usually look for.

                              My experience was that J'A's version definately doesn't "shatter".

                              More power to you for finding a croissant you enjoy, but i was disappointed by it.

                              1. re: Pupster

                                Is the Marquet in Carroll Gardens related to the Marquet in Fort Greene? I've only been to the one in Fort Greene, and although the people are extremely nice, the pastries have never overwhelmed me.

                                1. re: Pupster

                                  Yes, the Marquet in Fort Greene, Cobble Hill and Manhattan are all owned by the same people. Can't speak for all their pastries -- the madelines are sub-par -- but the croissants are very good IMO. For the BoCoCa area, I like them better than Provence en Boite, Almondine and Cafe Scaramouche, but in the Village, I would rather walk the few blocks to Claude's or The Adore.

                                  Edit: And since it hasn't been mentioned on this thread yet, the City Bakery pretzel croissant is pretty good when it's fresh.

                          2. Payard
                            Patisserie Claude
                            Balthazar
                            Ceci Cela
                            Financier

                            in that order

                            1. Here's one you wouldn't expect or maybe know about - Chez Laurence on Madison Avenue at East 38th Street. Has that crispy outer texture you're looking for with lots of layers. I think they're far better than Balthazar for sure, that much I can tell you and they are made fresh on the premises daily.

                              1. Sivyaleah beat me to it. Best Croissant in the city is at Chez Laurence hands down. I can't stand those bready ones you get at most bakeries and CL's are crispy and exactly what you are looking for. I don't think they are open on Sundays though but I could be wrong. I often just get a croissant w/jam & their excellent coffee in the morning before work...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Fallon

                                  I believe they are now open on Sundays - they have a new owner and I'm in there nearly daily for breakfast and lots of lunches and I seem to recall a small note saying something to that effect. Their jams are darn good too - also homemade. I have noticed that they have been a bit smaller lately - I asked about that. Apparently, the humid weather has been affecting the rise. That was interesting to me - I'm not a baker. But it has NOT affected the texture in the least. BTW, the chocolate croissants there are just as good, as are all others (I'm very partial to their apricot ones).

                                2. Oh yeah the lunches... I love the sliced steak sandwich w/carmelized onions on their crunchy outside/soft inside bread. also their poached chicken sandwich w/water cress & roasted peppers on a toasted brioche...yum yum.
                                  For Thanksgiving last year I ordered one of their pumpkin custard pies & it was a huge hit at the in-laws.
                                  I eat lunch there probably once a week-usually alone-zip in order, eat, pay & go in 20 minutes...
                                  BTW-lalagirl, I've never been to France but do appreciate a good croissant... however, I am going to France in October, to sample the real deal... wife's family is from there-they agree that Chez Laurence makes a good croissant too...

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Fallon

                                    Fallon, we've probably crossed paths many times :-)

                                  2. La Bergamote already mentioned and quite fine. Balthazar is not a croissant, I don't know what it is... more like an eastern european cake. Tarallucci & Vino sometimes have great croissants, sometimes they're not so great. Chez Laurence is also a bit variable.

                                    1. I think Claude's pain au chocolat should be outlawed. I weeped copiously on friday when I drove by and saw he was on vacation.

                                      1. Since they haven't been mentioned yet, I'll add a recommendation of Bouley Bakery. Currently my favorite, and definitely better than Ceci Cela.

                                        1. I've tasted Mr Claude's but I come to realize no croissant taste as good as the one from Costco. Yup, you heard it correctly. Costco in my opinion has the best tasting croissant. Even my CIA graduated sis agreed on this.
                                          Only thing is that they sell them by dozens and i have literally finished the whole box in less than 2 days.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: Monica

                                            Never had Costco's version but i gotta admit I enjoy Fresh Direct's par baked pain au chocolat. Given that I'm not generally a FD fan, this is actually high praise.

                                            It may not be the most authentic but for what it is it fits the bill quite nicely.

                                            1. re: Monica

                                              The croissants from Costco are pretty terrific. I have eaten many dozens.

                                              1. re: Monica

                                                are the costco croissants the frozen ones you bake at home? if yes, though they are mighty tasty and definitely worthy of being eaten by the dozen, i remember them to be too fluffy for true croissant status.

                                                1. re: piccola

                                                  See, that's why I'm reticent about Costco. A good croissant is more flakiness than fluffiness. Anything that's not freshly baked...you might as well ball it up and throw it against the wall.

                                                  1. re: lalagirl

                                                    They baked them fresh everyday and trust me, they are flaky with enough fluffiness. Just because they are mass produced by people from Costco(and not french), doesn't mean you shouldn't give them a chance.

                                                    1. re: Monica

                                                      of course they're fresh baked, you bake them at home. and again, they're great and totally bingeable, but not the thing for a croissant craving, imho

                                              2. I'm a big fan of the fresh, hot, shatter-y ones from Cousin John's bakery in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Though, admittedly, it's not in Manhattan but hey. :)

                                                1. Thank you, all. I'm counting the days until Monsieur Claude returns. After that, I shall visit Payard, Chez Laurence, and Bouley. But no Costco...no way.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: lalagirl

                                                    You should really try Petrossian Cafe. They rotate the bakers in from Paris. Fauchon too. Supposedly they import even the water from France.

                                                    1. re: Peter Cuce

                                                      Thank you very much, lalagirl. I did go to Petrossian's bakery this afternoon and got a pistachio/apricot croissant. I enjoyed the rich, buttery croissant, then the pistachios, then the sweet almond paste, then in the center, two slices of sour apricot, then again the almond paste, the pistachios, all a rather deluxe combination with the croissant. I am not as much of a croissant connoisseur as some others who participate in this thread, but I thought that one was great and a good value at $2.50!

                                                        1. re: Pan

                                                          You're welcome, but I'm not lalagirl :)

                                                          1. re: Peter Cuce

                                                            Whoops, I misread that! Thank you very much, Peter!

                                                    2. All this croissant talk made me run to Chez Laurence this morning to have one... You won't be disappointed or at least I wasn't...

                                                      1. ceci cela....sometimes great...for america

                                                        1. What's up? I love Claude, but I also like Balthazar's croissants. Hmm. I also had one at The Adore yesterday and thought it was pretty yummy. Surprisingly so.

                                                          Chez Laurence at the weekend, for sure.

                                                          - Sean

                                                          1. Fauchon is quite good. I haven't tried Patisserie Claude. Going to go this weekend. Yay!

                                                            Now, if only someone in this city could make real macaroons the way Laduree makes them. There's no one. It's so sad.

                                                            7 Replies
                                                            1. re: carbonara

                                                              Oh, god...don't even get me started on those macaroons. Divine. I have a feeling a lot of us are going to be visiting Monsieur Claude this weekend...

                                                              1. re: carbonara

                                                                Have you tried the macaroons at Bouchon? Just wondering if they might come close.

                                                                I had some very good macaroons at Cha-an as part of their tea. Green-tea infused but the best part is they are served warm, straight out of the oven.

                                                                But macaroons are a whole 'nother thread...

                                                                1. re: Pupster

                                                                  Yeah, I have. But even in Paris, nobody made them the way Laduree does. I don't know why. Heartbreaking. Now I'm hungry...

                                                                  But you're right. This is another thread.

                                                                    1. re: Pupster

                                                                      Thanks, I'll have to check it out! Have you tried them already?

                                                                      In the meantime, I'll dream of the day when I can convince Laduree to Fed-ex me my macaroons on a weekly basis. Even one-two days old, they're better than any substitutes I've had.

                                                                      I know I'm just adding to the praise at this point, but I went to M. Claude two mornings ago and, really, almost cried. I was on the subway digging little croissant flakes out of my paper bag after the croissant itself was gone. And I still haven't tried the pain au chocolat...

                                                                2. re: carbonara

                                                                  I,too, adore Laduree's macaroons especially the hazelnut! The best I've had since Paris is at Chez Alice Gourmet Cafe and Bakery in Princeton N.J. 5 Palmer Square.

                                                                3. ...and I wept again. But this time from joy. I finally went to visit Monsieur Claude (on West 4th and Barrow, for those of you who don't know). Despite my apprehensions about this little patisserie living up to the grand expectations I couldn't help but have after reading all these posts, that familiar smell croissants au beurre immediately reassured me. This is the first place I've been to in NYC that actually smells like a French patisserie. And from now on I won't settle for anything else. The croissant was typically french, which translates to divine given all the unimpressive imitations I've tasted.

                                                                  I have little crispy flakes of croissant stuck on my bottom lip as I write this. Can't wait for another.

                                                                  1. I know it's in Brooklyn, but try Almondine in Dumbo (right across the street from Jacques Torres). Wonderful buttery croissants (not like the dry ones Patisserie Marquet) and great pain au chocolats. They also have the most authentic baguettes I've had in the city.

                                                                    1. Thanks for the recommendations. Patisserie Claude has EXCELLENT croissants! Worth every bite. Other pastries there were also good. And Claude was quite nice to me. I did speak French to him . . .maybe that is why!

                                                                      1. I have been to France at least 25 times and visit Paris at least twice a year. While in Paris, I visit Gerard Mulot, Poilaine, Kayser,etc for pain au chocolat.

                                                                        When in New York ,where I live part-time in the Village, CLAUDE RULES !!!! Case closed !

                                                                        1. Thanks to this board (and this thread in particular), I finally took a trip down to Patisserie Claude. Wow! I completely get what all the fuss is about. The croissant was tremendous. So buttery and crispy on the outside. Then I took a bite of a still warm pain au chocolate. Oh my. The chocolate was still melted. I was in heaven.

                                                                          This thread actually got me into croissant mode, and I had a croissant and pain au chocolate from Balthazar earlier this week. I enjoyed each of them, but once I had the same from Claude’s, Balthazar’s paled in comparison.

                                                                          I also tried the apple tart and almond apricot tarts at Claude’s. Delicious, but not as transcendent as the croissant and pain au chocolate.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: shortstop

                                                                            I didn't see Pain Quotidien, and there are several in New York! They taste the same as they do in Paris, and we eat breakfast there all the time.

                                                                            Sandy

                                                                            1. re: sandypaws3

                                                                              Croissants in Paris vary as widely as they do here. I'm not much of a fan of anything at Le Pain Quotidien.