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Why can't NY understand the croissant?

I guess this is more an expression of bewilderment than a real question, but what is up with all those croissants wrapped in plastic wrap? That's like making someone a steak and serving it up on a bed of ice cubes. Are there any good places to get a real croissant (ie. not a mushy piece of bread wrapped in plastic) other than Patisserie Claude? And please tell your deli, croissants don't belong in plastic wrap!

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  1. La Bergamote
    I've also heard Ceci Cela and Balthazar mentioned but haven't tried the croissants there.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Lucia

      Balthazar's are "fair". Too soft, at least the one's I've had.

      1. re: Lucia

        La Bergamote has great croissants. This might seem ridiculous, but Pret a Manger croissants remind me of the real thing. Perhaps becuase it is originally a European chain. I think it's worth a try. Anything on the UES?

        1. re: leggers

          This is not on the UES, but a French/Senegalese place just opened up where the execrable Sparks Cafe used to be, on 22nd between 6th and 7th. I have not yet had a chance to try it for lunch, but it serves croissants - I think they are made there - and they are flaky and delicious. I have had good ones at Le Madeleine on 23rd between 6th and 7th too.

          1. re: eeee

            I think you're referring to Patisserie des Ambassades. I haven't been.

            1. re: Lucia

              yes, that's a patisserie des ambassades. they've been open longer on frederick douglass btwn 118th and 119th, and their croissants can be excellent, buttery, flaky and crisp or soft and overly eggy tasting. and despite the fact that i think their service just can't get slower, each time i'm there feels even slower than the time before--hopefully that's less of an issue at their chelsea location.

          2. re: leggers

            I also agree that Pret a Manger is not too bad either. I like how they keep it warm.

          3. re: Lucia

            Bergamote has a new location on 52nd between 10th and 11th Ave.
            Bigger brighter, definitely more uptown looking, but prices about the same , if not the same.

            1. re: Lucia

              Ceci Cela are GREAT

              Balthazaar are meh.

              I live near both, and my coffee shop of choice sells balthazaar's. I get coffee there and walk over to ceci cela. Sunday morning, must have the best of both worlds.

              1. re: 2slices

                I do the same thing some mornings, is your coffee shop Gimme Coffee?

                1. re: stuartlafonda

                  Yes, Gimme is in fact my coffee shop and they have changed to Ceci Cela! I walked in today and they had them, I'd recognize Ceci's pastry anywhere.

                  Back when they first opened I had told the owner he should be selling ceci cela. Apparently I wasn't the only one giving him the scoop. It's a one stop shop now, tho I might keep my sunday ritual unchanged. But weekday mornings I can get a good croissant on the way to work.

            2. I don't know if you are looking for a restaurant, but Pershing Square has excellent croissant and pain au chocolate. I think they buy them par-cooked from Dufour or somewhere else, and cook them every morning. They are the closest I have ever had to Paris. That being said, while their breakfast is pretty solid, the menu at PS is generally unimaginative.

              1. Most places use shortening instead of butter in their croissants (it's cheaper), which makes them dry out faster, thus the wrapping to keep moisture in. Wrapped croissant = pale imitation.

                Besides Pâtisserie Claude, try Silver Moon bakery at B'way and 105th.

                1 Reply
                1. re: piccola

                  I agree Patisserie Claude on West 4th is the Best for croissants, fresh out of the oven hot in the morning, crisp, flaky, all butter, though now that Claude has retired, we will have to see if Pablo carries on the tradition.

                2. Chez Laurence on Madison and East 38th Street does them right too. Fresh every morning - real pastry chef in the kitchen. He was gone for many months, but he's back now making them as good as ever.

                  I wouldn't buy a croissant from any corner deli, ever.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: sivyaleah

                    Ditto. Recommend Chez Laurence in general - much better for breakfast than a diner, coffee is excellent.

                    1. re: Tubulus

                      Glad you like Chez Laurence, but I've found their croissants and pain au chocolat to be just slightly above Manhattan's average.

                      1. re: racer x

                        Never been to Chez Laurence, but have been curious to try. Met the owner a couple of times in a local bar near my work, and he was a really nice guy. He even gave my buddy some tickets to a knicks game last year because he couldn't go.

                        Have been meaning to go ever since, but its a bit far from work. Will have to check it out in any event.

                    2. re: sivyaleah

                      Chez Laurence is closed. They also had the best so full of fruit flavor home made jams which they served and sold by the jar.

                        1. re: chowmeow

                          +1 for Petrossian.

                          182 W 58th St, New York, NY 10019

                      1. also try Lafayette Bakery on Greenwich Avenue bet. 6th and 7th.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: yting

                          Ditto the Lafayette Bakery recommendation. I've been very happy with all of their pastries, croissants included.

                          1. re: yting

                            Lafayette is the LAST place you would want to go.
                            And the food isn't that good there.


                          2. A croissant here will never be like one in France, simply because flour, and butter in the US are different. Flour and butter most likely will not be organic, and therefore you will never get the same croissant. I also heard that water makes a difference too, but I'm not sure if it's just a tall tale.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: nokitsch

                              The water used will make a much larger difference than whether the flour and butter are "organic."

                              1. re: drmoze

                                Organic or not, the flour does, I believe make a difference -- specifically the amount of gluten in the flour. In Europe, the amount of gluten is different from here (although I always forget which has more), and that affects the finished product. That is one reason why real Neapolitan Pizza crust is quite different from what he get over here.

                                1. re: elecsheep9

                                  I don't buy this explanation -- people say the same thing about NY water when complaining about pizza elsewhere. Ingredients are important, but technique matters far more. I don't see a huge difference between pizza crust by certified Neapolitan pizzaiolos like UPN and La Pizza Fresca and what you get in Naples.

                            2. Sarabeth's bakery on the UES or UWS has great croissants.

                              1. I second the recommendation for Petrossian's cafe. I love their almond croissants.

                                I stopped going there for a few years because I wasn't happy with the service, but things had improved during a couple of recent visits this summer.

                                I prefer Petrossian's over La Bergamote's, Patisserie Claude's, Ceci Cela's, and Silver Moon Bakery's. Will have to try Chez Laurence's.

                                1. Suggestion #1--stop going to delis for croissants!

                                  I ditto the Ceci Cela recommendation, and think it's the best, most shattering croissant. Patisserie Claude has great croissants, but they're too soggy/not crisp enough in my estimation. Chokolat Patisserie in the UWS is also good: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/377400 but like Claude, excellently buttery, sumptuous and rich, but not crisp enough. Their chocolate is better than the plain.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: rose water

                                    Speaking of UWS, don't forget Silver Moon Bakery on 105th/Broadway. Their croissants are quite good, but in this case I like the plain more than the chocolate.

                                  2. Fauchon (the best), Petrossian, Jacques Torres Chocoalte, Payard Patisserie, Patisserie Claude. I agree that balthazar's are only fair.

                                    14 Replies
                                    1. re: akowit

                                      I like Ceci Cela...also, City Bakery does a good job, but you have to hit them in the morning to get a quality croissant. And make sure not to get the pretzel croissant, which is fine and seems to be a favorite with people, but not what we're talking about.

                                      1. re: KP_4532

                                        You might want to give a try to Le Pain Quotidien

                                        1. re: idia

                                          I am NOT a fan of Le Pain Q, but besides Patisserie Claude, I like PAYARD on the Upper East Side and The (pronounced TAY) Adoree in the Village.

                                          I remember Fauchon making a decent one, but it was too small!

                                          1. re: Liquid Sky

                                            When City Bakery was in their old location (a long time ago), they had a great Croissant, but I haven't had one since they moved. I can only assume they're still worth a try. I'd be curious to hear what others say.

                                            1. re: foodluvngal

                                              I've had it a few times to be so disappointed. They're no longer buttery and flakey, but heavy and doughy (more like the consistency of the pretzel croissant). I've given up on them. My vote is for Ceci Cela.

                                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                                Believe me, it's even harder to find a decent croissant in LA!!

                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                  I had croissants from City Bakery (both the pretzel and plain varieties) last week for the first time, and was really disappointed. After hearing for some time about how good they were, I found them to be exactly as you describe, Miss Needle: heavy and doughy. They were also pretty tasteless. I won't buy them there again.

                                                  1. re: slcorlis

                                                    Yep. They used to be one of my favorite places to get a croissant and coffee, but they've steadily gone downhill over the past 2 1/2 years. Their salad bar is a bit overpriced too.

                                                    1. re: Liquid Sky

                                                      Wow, that is sad. I have not had one from City Bakery in a while, but they did use to be good. Oh well. ceci Cela it is!

                                                      1. re: KP_4532

                                                        Payard, Patisserie Claude and The Adoree (tay adoray) are all better than Ceci Cela in my opinion.

                                              2. re: Liquid Sky

                                                Where is Payard please. I am on the UES and have not liked any of the croissant over here. I even went to the bakery on 1st and 79th (Amelie?) that everyone was raving about. Eek -- hard, heavy and odd flavour

                                                1. re: Feed Me

                                                  Payard ~ 1032 Lexington Ave, 72 + 73 street. Also good coffee macarons ,St. Honoré and Paris Brest pastries.

                                                  1. re: ernie0716

                                                    Agreed about Payard - they are excellent. Their Pain au Chocolat are fabulous as well.

                                        2. after trying them all for years again and again, doing blindfold tests with friends
                                          I'd have to say the best I have had her are from Ceci Cela and Claude,
                                          though be warned Claude can be nasty..( around his hood "the tart nazi")

                                          of note are the c's at falai..just had one sunday and was very happy.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: whenslydale

                                            I think Claude is a sweetheart. Yes, he can be tempermental, but certainly no "Tart Nazi"!

                                          2. Downtown we have Financier (Stone Street or William Street/near the Federal Reserve). The croissants are pretty good. After reading all the posts I really must try Patisserie Claude.

                                            5 Replies
                                              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                                yeah if yr downtown get'em at FINANCIER, thumbs up.

                                                not the very best but very good, my go to is LA BERGAMOTE.

                                                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                                  Thank you, thank you, thank you for turning me on to this place! Their croissants are just a notch above average (IMHO), but I love their desserts!! And they also have pretty good hot sandwiches (panini-style) and salads, at least at the Cedar St branch, where I've been several times now. Prices are actually lower than I would have expected for the quality, especially considering the proximity to the financial markets.

                                                  Anyone who says they may not be as good as some of the other places in the city needs to take another trip around Manhattan. I've generally preferred Fauchon, Payard, and La Bergamote. But for single-serving desserts, like mousse-cakes or tartelettes, I now prefer Financier. Ahh, if they only had a branch that was further uptown ...

                                                  1. re: racer x

                                                    We were downtown in the morning a few Saturdays ago, and were delighted to find that Financier on Stone Street was open. We had cafe au lait and their almond croissants, and were very pleased.

                                                    1. re: Striver

                                                      Wow, just noticed this is an old thread. Striver, their almond croissants are my favorite, though sometimes I find them a bit overcooked.

                                                      If I wasn't dieting from all the winter eating I'd walk over there right now and get one for breakfast before the rain starts in again. . . Their chocolate croissants are pretty good too.

                                                2. Zabar's has great croissants (plain, almond) and pain au chocolat. I don't like most fake croissants either but am satisfied with the ones at Zabar's. Go early because sometimes they sell out by late afternoon.

                                                  1. ZABARS on the UWS does have the best NYC croissants...i've been gobbling these since I was a child. Unfortunately, they have gone down hill a bit over the years but are still my only vote for the tasty real thing. One note - if you get more than 3, make sure to ask the guys to put no more than 3 in a bag so they stay nice and puffy.

                                                    1. Size matters! Why are NYC croissants so large? Jumbo everything. Indeed, I believe one of the reasons croissants will never be as good is because the larger crescent throws the surface area / interior ratio out of whack. I'm no structural engineer, but I'm sure this has something to do with it.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: bombaybeauty

                                                        i agree with you, bombaybeauty. it's insulting that those who prepare large croissants, large bagels, etc. think this will attract crowds. i think many of us know better. the best croissant place in nyc was on university off 12th and has been replaced by a philly slims [sigh]. i've tried claude (disappointing - not buttery, flaky nor light) , ceci cela, le pain q, city bakery, silver moon, zabar's, but nothing comes close.

                                                      2. Ceci Cela on Spring street, great croissants, a variety of flavors and no plastic. They might even be warm right out of the oven

                                                        1. Cafe Margot on 74th b/w Broadway and West End - though they can sometimes be dry if they've been sitting around a while...

                                                          1. La Bergamote has what you are looking for. They also have a pain au chocolat that is out of this world, with a similar buttery texture and flakiness as the croissant.
                                                            (212) 627-9010
                                                            169 9th Ave,
                                                            New York, NY 10011

                                                            1. Why can't Paris understand bagels? Having said that, all you need is Claude. I bet you can't find a bagel in Paris that compares to Claude's pain au chocolat.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: guttergourmet

                                                                Had a pain au chocolat yesterday again from Patisserie Claude-orgasmic.

                                                                1. re: guttergourmet

                                                                  The water in Paris is different. Bagel quality depends on water. NYC water is the best. I just discovered H&H bagels Upstate where I spend most of my weekends. Now if I can only convince The Jonesville Store to get Essa bagels (my personal favorite) :)

                                                                2. LA BERGAMOTE
                                                                  CECI CELA
                                                                  Probably CLAUDE (never tried his Croissants, but his cakes are stellar)
                                                                  And, for an outlier, SWEETHEART COFFEE SHOP on 8th Ave between 13th and 14th used to have surprisingly good croissants--big, very flaky, and buttery. Haven't had one in years, though.

                                                                  1. A couple of recent threads got me thinking about croissants.
                                                                    I retried the almond croissants at Payard, La Bergamote, Financier (Cedar St), and Petrossian today. No excuse for stale croissants because I bought all of them early this morning.
                                                                    M Payard should be ashamed! The croissant was awful! It was SOGGY!
                                                                    Same with the croissant from La Bergamote (which looked and tasted suspiciously similar to the one from Payard, except that Bergamote's had a heavier coating of powdered sugar). The Payard and Bergamote croissants were also too eggy-tasting (for lack of a better word) for my taste.

                                                                    Financier's was vastly superior to Payard's and Bergamote's: crisp on the outside and softer inside, not soggy at all. The edges were a little overdone, however, detracting from the overall taste.

                                                                    Petrossian's remains the champion. Crisply crunchy and flaky outside, soft inside; delicious filling. And a more aesthetically-pleasing airy, tubular shape, in contrast to the squashed two-dimensional grotesqueries of the other three.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: racer x

                                                                      Can you do take-out at Petrossian? Or is it just eat-in only?

                                                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                        The croissants and other pastries are from the cafe on 7th ave, just around the corner from the restaurant proper.

                                                                        You may have noticed little tarts & cakes in the window as you've walked by.
                                                                        Sure, there is take out from the counter.

                                                                      2. re: racer x

                                                                        I've found the state of the croissant to be on a steep decline in the past couple years. Not sure what's going on, if they're cutting costs on butter or what.

                                                                        I finally tried La Bergamote's and I don't understand the fuss. It was too soft, and gummy, plus it lacked flavor,

                                                                      3. I'm slowly going through the recommendations listed here.

                                                                        So far:
                                                                        La Bergamote - Pretty good. Seemed overdone. I didn't check the price, though.
                                                                        Petrossian - Very good. Best so far. But $2.75 for a croissant? Hmmm.
                                                                        Zabars - Ugh. Why are they on this list? Taste like any other dry, bland croissant you can get around town.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Cuse

                                                                          i agree with you about zabar's. i need to get over to petrossian.

                                                                          1. re: Cuse

                                                                            Don't forget about Bouley Bakery, they have excellent croissants. (though don't get one from the bottom of the basket). As a bonus they also have awesome canneles.

                                                                            1. re: Cuse

                                                                              I'm surprised that only one person mentioned Bouley Bakery. They have excellent croissants (though don't get one from the bottom of the basket), and as a bonus they have awesome canneles.

                                                                            2. Although not in Manhattan, Almondine in DUMBO, according to an ex-baker friend of mine, supposedly has some pretty good ones. It's a pretty short ride on the F train into DUMBO, for you downtowners.

                                                                              1. Try the croissants at Cafe Macaron (36th b/t 7th and b'way). Very delicious and their coffee is wonderful as well.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: fonduewcheddar

                                                                                  They get their croissants from Caffe Falai

                                                                                  1. re: Peter Cuce

                                                                                    I didn't know Cafe Falai sold croissants in addition to bread. Must try them next time I'm in the area food shopping. Thanks.

                                                                                  2. re: fonduewcheddar

                                                                                    Hmm, I had one of their packaged croissants one evening and it was stale and not-so-buttery. I wonder if they had been sitting out for awhile? Will have to come back earlier in the day to see if I can find one of the nice ones that you describe :)

                                                                                    My friend and I had capuccino that was not wonderful, but the ladies who made it didn't seem very invested in their work.

                                                                                    Their salt caramel macarons were heaven, though...

                                                                                  3. Try Cafe D'Alsace on the UES. Buttery and delicious.

                                                                                    1. Zabars has two kinds of plain croissants, The regular horn shaped one that tends to be too big and too soft. They also have one that is "made in France" that is much closer to what you get in France. I assume they bake it off from frozen dough. It's a rolled straight rather than a horned shape and his very flakely and light.

                                                                                      1. its pretty silly. this is like eating cup-a-noodles and deciding there is no good soup in new york.

                                                                                        1. La Bergamonte
                                                                                          9th avenue near 20th.

                                                                                          1. Petrossian's Cafe is the best. I had an excellent chocolate croissant at Brasserie Cognac nearby. Almondine in Dumbo and La Tropezienne in Spanish Harlem are both good as well. Pret a Manger and Tisserie are good for chains.

                                                                                            Patisserie Claude and La Bergamote are ok. I didn't like the croissants at Ceci-Cela or Balthazar much.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: shivohum

                                                                                              Claude was O.K (better quiche IMO )but the espresso is an absolute disaster,so generally avoid it.Trying to find the perfect espresso / croissant combination is still a bit of a problem i'm afraid.Ceci Cela is still my preferred pattiserie.I ocasionaly go to Balthazar bakery in Englewood but ditto on the Coffee.Absolute garbage.

                                                                                              1. re: xny556cip

                                                                                                While NY isn't Paris, it doesn't mean that everyone one here doesn't understand croissants. In Astoria, our North African neighbors (Moroccan) have brought their post-colonial culinary traditions, and make wonderful bread and pastries. My favorite being Patisserie la Brioche D'Or on 24-39 Steinway Street.

                                                                                                The croissants they sell are represent their French roots well, and if you are lucky enough to get one right out of the oven you'll see there are those in NY who, "get it."

                                                                                                For pics see: http://flickr.com/photos/pabo76/29581...



                                                                                                1. re: pabo76

                                                                                                  I second this, and though the idea of Mexicans making croissants maybe anathema to many of you, the Latino panaderias on 5th Ave in Sunset Park blow most Manhattan "bakeries" out of the water.

                                                                                                  1. re: lightstays

                                                                                                    Can you recommend some specific items to try at some specific panaderias?

                                                                                            2. One more to throw into the mix: Brasserie Cognac on Broadway b/w 54th & 55th.

                                                                                              The croissants are on the large side, but flaky/crisy on the outside with tender interiors - the kind of croissant that leaves flaky bits everywhere when you eat it! The pain au chocolat is also very nice.

                                                                                              That being said, I treated myself to an almond croissant and cafe au lait yesterday. I should have been suspicious of the "non-squashed" looking almond croissant...
                                                                                              They sent me packing with a crunchy almond & sugar topped croissant without any yummy almond-y filling! Quel horreur!
                                                                                              For me, the marzipan/filling is the whole point of the almond croissant. My cafe au lait was also made with skim milk, which I detest.

                                                                                              1. The French owner/baker at Nova Cafe, on 10th ave between 54th and 55th, makes the most amazing croissants. They're golden, flaky, and crispy on the outside, tender, airy and buttery within - and not overgrown like most Manhattan croissants. His chocolate and almond croissants are also excellent, as are the other baked goods I've tried.

                                                                                                Good espresso/cappuccino too (Illy, I think). Only problem is they do catering too, and so their shop hours are inconsistent - many mornings I've stood sadly outside after discovering the metal gate is closed, barricading me from croissant heaven.

                                                                                                1. If you take a trip to Jackson Heights you'll find the Pattiserie Cannelle by the former pastry chef of the Waldorf making wonderful croissants as well as many other delicious goodies.

                                                                                                  1. i think payard's certainly is quite good along wih the petrossian's. But whenever i'm at payard's i always end up having lunch or at least something else and spending far too much money

                                                                                                    1. i am always disappointed by crossiants. dont even have them anymore because i just get so sad. but - i just tried Tarallucci E Vino's version, and it is spectacular. a must. i still think about it...

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: snturkish

                                                                                                        Which branch of Tarallucci e Vino?

                                                                                                        1. re: Pan

                                                                                                          I 2nd Tarallucci E Vino's croissant. I went to the one closer to Union Sq. Actually, I think I had a chocolate croissant. It was really excellent. I'm also addicted to the croissants at Financier.

                                                                                                      2. You can get a great croissant at D'Vine Taste in Park Slope (maybe only weekends). It's a great food shop run by a Lebanese Christian family, and one of the guys studied bread and pastry at CIA and does a fabulous croissant. Certe, on W. 55, which caters most of my office meetings and events, does a respectable croissant.


                                                                                                        1. I think Ceci Cela has really gone down hill over the last couple years in terms of croissant and (especially) coffee quality. Sad. I've just had too many burnt/dry croissants from them. That said, the best croissants I've had in NYC are the frozen ones that you buy at Ceci Cela and bake at home.

                                                                                                          BTW, as far as I can tell, it isn't NYC that does croissants poorly, it is everywhere outside of France and, weirdly enough, Japan. I was once told that the ovens in France get much hotter than in the US - that could have something to do with it. I also wouldn't discount the above-mentioned butter theory. Butter in France is a *completely* different animal. It is possible to find French butter in NYC, but it is expensive enough that I doubt anyojne is baking croissants with it. Could be an interesting experiment, though.

                                                                                                          21 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: una mas

                                                                                                            I remember reading somewhere that the Fauchon in New York, which is no longer there, used to import everything from France to make their croissants, even the water, but I never got to try their croissants.

                                                                                                            1. re: una mas

                                                                                                              NY has in the past had great croissants .... so it's possible. You can still get a great one in San Francisco....and Ceci Cela or Balthazar did at one time make pretty darn good ones. It is sad though when Au Bon Pan starts to become a contender for the best in NY though.

                                                                                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                Has any one tried the Patisserie Claude ones lately?

                                                                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                  There are still way better croissants than ABP out there. I like Petrossian.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Peter Cuce

                                                                                                                    Sure, but Au Bon's are actually dare I say it, really good when compared to most of the choices....which isn't saying a whole hell of a lot. They beat Balthazar's current version.... but again, that isn't saying much.

                                                                                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                      I never liked Balthazar's croissants.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Peter Cuce

                                                                                                                        Their almond croissant was stellar but that was about 7 years ago.
                                                                                                                        Plain butter was also excellent, but not their best item. Even their baguette has taken a hit and lacks flavor now.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Peter Cuce

                                                                                                                      I've read that those Petrossian ones are terrific. While not amazing, the croissants that I get occasionally at Patrick Murphy Market, Sarabeth's and Yura (all around 92nd & Madison) are far better than an ABP one - tried one at LGA last time I was there and pitched it.

                                                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                        I wouldn't be surprised if Petrossian did a great croissant since they do the best canelle I've had in NY.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Peter Cherches

                                                                                                                          I need to find myself in that neck of the woods one morning - I think it's quite close to French American Reweaving Co., and I have some sweaters that need to pay it a visit.

                                                                                                                    3. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                      Yes, the croissants (and pain au chocolat) at Claude are still very good with Pablo in charge.

                                                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                        I tried an almond croissant at Claude last Monday. It was horrific, considering how touted the place used to be. The color of the crust was blonde rather than brown; the crumb was dense and tasted stale. I left most of it uneaten.

                                                                                                                        As an amateur home baker, I have made superb croissants following Julia child's recipe (view the video on PBS). It's bewildering how most patisseries can't even make a halfway respectable version.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Joe MacBu

                                                                                                                          Not to scare you but I might be developing a small mancrush.
                                                                                                                          Between your oven meddlings and this, I must admit it.
                                                                                                                          And spot on about the sad state of most everything in terms of quality.
                                                                                                                          Why make something good when you can spend less, not give a hoot and make a poor one and sales will be the same? RWB Capitalism at its finest.
                                                                                                                          Of course,if the masses just refused to eat substandard food, this issue would be mostly eradicated.
                                                                                                                          Nothing sold at an eatery of whatever type should be worse than what is easily attainable even in a home kitchen, much less a proper one.

                                                                                                                        2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                          I had one last Tuesday, first thing in the morning and for the first time ever, it was bad. No flake, no shattering of the crust, it was thick and doughy, no delicate identifiable layers. There is no bigger fan of PC so I was very upset. I will be there tomorrow in the morning and will report back.

                                                                                                                          1. re: stuartlafonda

                                                                                                                            I returned last week and sadly the chocolate croissant was again underwhelming as it suffered from the same problems I had reported earlier. I am happy to report that this mornings version was wonderful. It had all the great qualities that have been the hallmark of a Patisserie Claude chocolate croissant. Pablo pulled a tray from the back work area and peeled a croissant of the tray and handed it to me. It was warm, flakey and delicious. I quess there will be consistency issues and therefore bad reports from viisting chowhounds and occasional customers but when they are on, they are excellent.

                                                                                                                      2. re: una mas

                                                                                                                        Italy is also full of excellent croissants, in my experience.

                                                                                                                        I think part of the problem is that we don't have a culture of going to the bakery early in the morning to get the fresh croissants and pains au chocolat when they're just finished baking. A lot of Europeans go to the bakery twice a day for fresh-baked bread, croissants, etc. Few Americans do. And despite what you say about Ceci Cela's frozen croissants, in general, croissants are delicate and don't taste nearly as good upon reheating.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Pan

                                                                                                                          That's an excellent point - and I recall buying some at Patisserie Claude - having one that morning, and one the next morning, and they weren't nearly as good the next day.

                                                                                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                            croissant is not a food that should be eaten the next day or even the next hour. As the parisians say, the best croissant is the one that is closest to you and has been baked the most recently.

                                                                                                                            1. re: offthebeatenpath1

                                                                                                                              Oh - I agree. It was a test of sorts at the time, where posters were complaining about the quality of the croissants they bought from him in the afternoon.

                                                                                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                Excellent point, Pan! MMRuth, I must admit I was one of those "afternoon Claude complainers". I remember purchasing croissants on a remote, Greek island (of all places) first thing in the AM. They were amazing... but, then again, one could argue that anything in that setting tastes amazing. Regardless, excellent point.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Pan

                                                                                                                            There is no reheating involved. They sell you the frozen dough, already rolled into croissant form. Does it match a Parisian bakery? Not even close. But it is still pretty damn good - crusty on the outside, warm and gooey (if you like it that way) on the inside.

                                                                                                                        2. We happily travel from Tribeca to La Bergamote for the perfect croissant. If ever on east side, Payard, without question. Why would anyone even go near a croissant wrapped in plastic?

                                                                                                                          1. While their service is horrible, Payard makes the best almond croissant I've ever tasted and the almond version at Bouley was pretty darn good, too.

                                                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: uhockey

                                                                                                                              I had a pistachio pain au chocolat at Madeleine, btw, that I thought was awfully good. What happened w/ the service at Payard? I've not been for awhile.

                                                                                                                              1. re: uhockey

                                                                                                                                Payard's croissant d'almonde is literally the closest equivalent to crack for me in NYC.
                                                                                                                                Bouley? Please. Given his pedigree, it is shameful. The Big 3 French chefs in NYC all have 2 or 3 good/great spots and the majority of their establishments are,well, not so much.
                                                                                                                                Payard's plain is very good but not great, I don't think. And I am a backer of Francois P.
                                                                                                                                Seeing some of these other names mentioned as "great", the "best", etc. is ignorant.
                                                                                                                                I am a fool for never having sampled Petrossian's given their baguette is very good or better. In fact, possibly the best in NYC since middling garbage is what is produced even at most of the best names.

                                                                                                                                Also, reheating a croissant will produce results right near its creation's peak if done properly.
                                                                                                                                Most of those who deride "leftovers" would be hard pressed to determine fresh from properly reheated in blind tasting,

                                                                                                                                1. re: dietndesire

                                                                                                                                  Please - say more! How do you reheat a croissant properly? Is it different for plain/chocolate/almond croissants?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: shivohum

                                                                                                                                    Assuming your croissant is a quality example then the crust will shatter when brand spanking new out the oven, yes?
                                                                                                                                    If the croissant is not of this type, reheating it however you care to will yield about the same result. Soft exterior, does not matter.
                                                                                                                                    If you care to replicate some crispness, shattering on the exterior, sprinkle a few drops of water. I just flick them with my hand.
                                                                                                                                    Oven, 250, usually for myself, depending on the oven. Sometimes, I use a lower heat actually though many or most(not sure) might use a 350 level or near there. I find it too harsh.
                                                                                                                                    This applies only to plain and choco since a croissant d'almonde proper(Payard) has the paste mushed in. Not much use for the water.
                                                                                                                                    You may also try leaving it in the bag it comes in if it is one that you think would store the croissant well for awhile. Or try it in the oven without the bag.
                                                                                                                                    I have taken this from one who far exceeds my 1 star ability, especially those skills required for the baked and sweet goods.
                                                                                                                                    Note, it will not be exactly the same as when it is first born from its birth oven but I dare say that given what most think is "great", the difference is small enough even to someone who can tell that not having to eat it at 8am if you do not care for it then is perfectly fine.
                                                                                                                                    Also, the water sprinkle works well for bread if it has a real crust that was once crackly and good. Do not expose the soft inside of the bread to the oven if you want it to merely warm up yet remain soft. Basically, if you want toast, expose it, if not, keep it sealed off from direct air exposure.
                                                                                                                                    Try it out, hope it works for you.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: dietndesire

                                                                                                                                      Great, thanks! I'm going to try this out soon :).

                                                                                                                                      1. re: dietndesire

                                                                                                                                        I agree that a really good croissant will still be a pretty good croissant when properly reheated the next day.

                                                                                                                                        Incidentally, here is a very French view of what constitutes good and bad croissants, translated (as best I can) from Le Figaro newspaper as part of their regular rating of the best croissants in Paris.

                                                                                                                                        It is good if:
                                                                                                                                        - It is shaped like a quarter moon.
                                                                                                                                        - It is plump, has a crust is golden brown and a beautiful blonde color.
                                                                                                                                        - When you stretch the horns to explore the interior, the crumb seems to have airy holes, convoluted, beige, supple, almost brilliant, and hidden under a very crisp pastry exterior.
                                                                                                                                        - In the mouth it has a little malty/yeasty taste, a mild acidity, and a good balance between taste of butter and the aroma of the wheat, which lingers on the palate; it is both crisp and mouth-melting.
                                                                                                                                        - The triangular point section is up well on the front, ready to pull off.
                                                                                                                                        - Well done, a croissant is certainly drier but still good the next day.

                                                                                                                                        It is bad if:
                                                                                                                                        - It is flat, featureless and bloated, pasty, and compacts in your mouth.
                                                                                                                                        - It is perfectly identical to all the croissants presented in store. It is therefore a strong probability that it has been thawed.
                                                                                                                                        - It's dry outside, chewy or rubbery inside.
                                                                                                                                        - It breaks into crumbs too much and it shows large holes in the pastry exterior layers because it was poorly "tourée,” (after rolling out, folded in three or four folds to be chilled before rolling out again).
                                                                                                                                        - It is uniformly soft, indicating that it was cooked in a pulsed-air convection oven or an oven too cold.
                                                                                                                                        - It does not have that light smell of butter and the taste of sugar too evident.
                                                                                                                                        - If it is fat and greasy, the butter used was poor and it ran during the cooking.
                                                                                                                                        - If it is too yellow, the baker may have added butter flavored with vanillin.
                                                                                                                                        - Pasty white or cream color, it has not cooked properly.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: RandyB

                                                                                                                                          Very interesting post, Randy. Have you had a chance to compare the croissants at Ceci Cela, Patisserie Claude, The Adoree, Petrossian, or Payard Patisserie to those at Café Besalu in Seattle?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Tom Armitage

                                                                                                                                            No, I haven't had much time to make the rounds, and most are far from where I am midtown East Side. It seemed that Eli's got the fewest negatives and most positives in the thread, at least in the last year it was really an active thread.

                                                                                                                                            Payard is close but it's website implies it isn't doing breakfast pastries like croissants. Petrossian is almost a straight shot crosstown, so I could walk there and might do it later today. Ceci-Cela is that one that looks the most interesting, but it's quite far. Their website also doesn't say when the retail store is open.

                                                                                                                                            Some of the praise also was for almond croissants. I don't consider that a good test, since mostly they are filled and, unless you get them right after they are filled, the crispness will diminish quickly.

                                                                                                                                            182 W 58th St, New York, NY 10019

                                                                                                                                            1. re: RandyB

                                                                                                                                              Ceci-Cela keeps standard hours. 7:30 - 8pm...and 7:30 -10pm on weekends.

                                                                                                                                              You can also find their goods at cafes around the city. Grand Daisy may still cary their croissants, for example.

                                                                                                                                              It's going to require some leg work to really make a comparison. Eli's is beloved amongst a neighborhood crowd, but it's been many years since they had distribution, or a reputation around the city as a top notch baker. It's great to read your review of their croissants, because honestly, even in their hey day, that wasn't an item they were noted for. In other words, you could name any baked item, and no matter what it was, a few people would suggest Eli's. Rye, sourdough, croissant, a giant macaroon, black and white cookies, etc. Eli's will come up. Ceci Cela on the other hand is known for a few items, in particular, their eclairs and mostly their croissants.

                                                                                                                                              166 Chambers St, New York, NY 10007

                                                                                                                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                Thanks for the comments, sugartoof. I did do the leg work today, and started a new thread with my results:

                                                                                                                                2. Had a pretty good croissant at Almondine today. I remember liking it a lot when they first opened, and I think it held up. I mostly went there to try their macarons today but picked up a croissant just for trying's sake.

                                                                                                                                  1. hands down, best croissant
                                                                                                                                    Eli's on 80th and 3rd
                                                                                                                                    as good as some of the top croissant's in paris (daniel, grand vendome)

                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: tubastu

                                                                                                                                      Having just arrived in NYC a couple of days ago, I thought I'd check this board for good croissants. There obviously isn't any recent info, so I started with this year-old thread.

                                                                                                                                      I remember Payard for wonderful pastries years ago, but their website says they just have a chocolate bar in someone else's place. No croissants mentioned. So I stopped today at Eli's to check out what many of you think is at the top. I'd give Eli's croissant a "B."
                                                                                                                                      That's better than I'd give the average Paris bakery, but not in the same league as top ones.

                                                                                                                                      I enjoyed the Eli's croissant. But it is a significant cut below the top possible. I found the outside not quite flaky enough and the overall feel a bit too tough. Maybe they're using flour with a bit too much gluten or working it too much. Also the sugar/salt balance was too much on the sweet side.

                                                                                                                                      If you want a standard of comparison, visit Pierre Hermé, Kayser, or (on a good day) one of the Lenôtre stores. A little closer to home but in the same top class is Cafe Besalu in Seattle, where I live. The Swiss-trained owner/baker of Besalu does a perfect job using US-made ingredients.

                                                                                                                                      As for the comments about not having the right flour, butter, or water in the US to duplicate the best croissants, that's just wrong. I studied pastry making in France. (Technically, croissants aren't pastry, they're viennoiseries, but I won't quibble with that.) I then spent a lot of time (and failed efforts) finding the right ingredients. The folks at King Arthur Flour and SAF yeast were very helpful. In the end, I did find all the US-made ingredients I needed.

                                                                                                                                      Incidentally, there was a time when some of the best bakers in France actually imported flour from the US. The historian and bread critic, Prof. Steven Lawrence Kaplan of Cornell, did a lot to shame the French baking establishment into changing its ways. As a result, the top bakers started demanding better quality and quality control from their suppliers. The results have been a marked improvement in the flours available and overall quality of bread. He also savaged a lot of NYC baguettes, but that's off the thread of this topic.

                                                                                                                                      In fairness to the bakers, making perfect croissants on a regular basis is not easy at all. You can't just follow the recipe carefully, you have to feel the results at every step. The cross between bread and puff pastry makes the dough very sensitive to the slightest changes in temperature and humidity. This is time and labor intensive, and is much art as skill.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: RandyB

                                                                                                                                        Hey Randy, the mods would probably prefer this be in Home Cooking, but would you mention the US ingredients that you've had success with for croissants. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Joe MacBu

                                                                                                                                          No problem, Joe, but I agree that Home Cooking is the place for the info. So here it is:


                                                                                                                                    2. The best croissant in New York is at Payard on Lex@74th.

                                                                                                                                      1. Best croissant I ever had: Cafe outside the Marsailles train station 1975, I can still taste it
                                                                                                                                        Second best: Croissanterie in Marigot, St Martin, right out of the oven, warm and crispy
                                                                                                                                        Best in NYC: Ceci Cela, excellent!!

                                                                                                                                        2 Replies