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The Croissant Chronicles

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uberathlete Jul 16, 2011 09:35 AM

I probably will not eat another croissant for a month .... yeah right! I have been on the search for the best croissant in the GTA. So for those who are curious about the current state of croissantage (yes, I made that up) near and not so far, please bear with me.

The classic butter croissant is the object of evaluation. I didn't bother with the Pain au Chocolat or any other variant. Most were purchased in the morning, right at opening. In one expedition, I went to 6 shops within a two hour span. I am slightly nuts. Anyway, here is the list of places I have gone to in the past few months:

Clafouti (Toronto)
Nadege (Toronto)
Brick Street Bakery (Toronto)
Croissant Tree (Oakville)
French Corner Bakery (Mississauga)
Patisserie D'Or (Oakville)
Patisserie St. Honore (Etobicoke)
Ma Maison (Etobicoke)
La Bamboche (Toronto)
Rahier (Toronto)
Thobors (Toronto)
Jules Patisserie (Toronto)
Patachou (Toronto)
Petite Thuet (Toronto)
Pain Perdu (Toronto)

Results in brief:

Flakiest and Crispiest Exterior : Nadege
Strongest Butter Taste : Jules
Best Balanced: Patisserie D'Or

Clafouti : Clafouti's croissants had a medium butter flavor, a soft relatively bready interior, golden color, and medium crisp exterior. Grade: B+

Nadege : Nadege's croissants are definitely top notch. Excellent layering with a brown, crispy exterior. Medium butter flavor. The interior is soft but is lost to the crispy exterior. Grade: A

Croissant Tree : Croissant Tree's croissants have excellent technique when it comes to layering. What it needs though, is more butter. For a croissant that doesn't use much butter though, it's impressive how much flavor they are able to achieve. Grade: C

Patisserie D'Or : Patisserie D'Or's croissants in my opinion have the best balance of layering, exterior crispness, interior moistness and softness, and butter flavor. You can feel the butter when you hold it and bite into it, but it isn't overwhelming. It also has excellent pull. I would rate their croissants as the best in the GTA. Grade: A+

Brick Street Bakery : Brick Street's croissants have, just like Patisserie D'Or, great balance. The croissant is simply well made and is of a high standard. Excellent exterior crispness, layering, and color, soft interior, and a nice but not overpowering buttery flavor. Grade: A

Patisserie St. Honore : The croissant of this long standing shop are light and buttery. Layering needs a bit of work. The last time I tried their croissants it seemed like the butter leached out and fried it, which was reflected in the bottom exterior. Still, tasted pretty good, though a tad sweet. Reminded me of my early attempts at making croissants. Grade: B

French Corner Bakery : French Corner Bakery's croissants have good layering, but the exterior needs more crackle. They need more butter and the interior is relatively dry. Grade: B-

Ma Maison : See French Corner Bakery and add "a bit salty". Grade: B-

Rahier : Rahier's croissants have a relatively soft cream colored interior, are medium flaky, have moderate layering, and medium crispness. Medium butter flavor and relatively flat shape. Grade: A-

Jules Patisserie : Jules' croissant has all the characteristics of a great croissant. Strong butter flavor, excellent exterior crispness that holds up and shatters when you take a bite, excellent layering, a nice yellow and soft interior, wonderful pull and baked to a nice brownish color. Some people may find it too buttery or greasy, but I'm not complaining. Hands down the best in the city. Grade: A+

La Bamboche : La Bamboche's croissants had okay layering, lacked a bit more exterior crunch, and had a relatively bready interior. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed with their product given their reputation. Grade : B

Thobors : Thobor's croissants have a relatively soft, whitish interior, a mild butter flavor and medium flakiness. Quite expensive relative to the others. Really not worth it. Grade : B

Petite Thuet : Petite Thuet's croissant were one of the bigger ones of the bunch. Excellent layering, with medium crispness. Relatively dry interior and a mild butter flavor. Grade: B

Pain Perdu: Pain Perdu's heralded croissants had good layering but had a dry, rather hard exterior. They obviously don't like using much egg wash. The interior was dry and had a medium butter flavor. They bake to a nice brown color which results in a bit of a nutty flavor undertone. Grade: B

Patachou : Patachou's croissants had a mild butter flavor, a soft interior, but lacked a bit more layering and more exterior crispness. Grade: B

Overall, it's a toss up between Patisserie D'Or of Oakville, and Jules Patisserie of Mt. Pleasant, Toronto. I would happily eat either one. The rest, apart from Nadege and Brick Street, unfortunately were quite forgettable. Those in the city have many optons, with Jules the undisputed leader. Those in GTA West need not venture into the city for great croissants since Patisserie D'Or is in the area.

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Rahier
1586 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G, CA

Pain Perdu
736 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6C, CA

Patachou
1120 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4W, CA

La Bamboche
4 Manor Rd E, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

Ma Maison
4243 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M8X, CA

Thobors
627 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

Clafouti
915 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

Petite Thuet
244 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

Brick Street Bakery
1969 Queen St E, Toronto, ON , CA

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  1. j
    jmarcroyal RE: uberathlete Jul 16, 2011 09:56 AM

    Montmarte Bakery makes some great croissants, I love em!

    3 Replies
    1. re: jmarcroyal
      u
      uberathlete RE: jmarcroyal Jul 16, 2011 10:43 AM

      Oh stop tempting me! Montmarte is next on the schedule together with Epi Breads and Patisserie La Cigogne. :D

      -----
      Cigogne
      1626 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G, CA

      Epi Breads
      1526 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G, CA

      1. re: uberathlete
        j
        jmarcroyal RE: uberathlete Jul 16, 2011 11:03 AM

        I think they are open today til 5...

        Hmm, I might have to stop by!

        Grab a soft pretzel as well, and try not to be too tempted by their fresh streudels!

        1. re: uberathlete
          f
          flyinggonzo RE: uberathlete Jul 20, 2011 06:21 AM

          Thanks for your review and please update your list once you go to those bakeries. I go to Epi and Rahier as they are within a close walk to me, but your list makes me want to go to Jules!

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          Rahier
          1586 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G, CA

      2. jlunar RE: uberathlete Jul 16, 2011 10:08 AM

        Whoa nellie. Thanks for taking the time to do this! I also really like Jules' croissants. I will try Nadège's sometime, as it's easier for me to get to than Jules.

        My favourite croissants of all time go to Tartine in SF and Cafe Besalu in Seattle.

        1. g
          gastrojunkie RE: uberathlete Jul 16, 2011 12:35 PM

          Great report! My friend just got back from France and was complaining about the quality of croissants here so I will send him to some of these places!

          1 Reply
          1. re: gastrojunkie
            t
            tjr RE: gastrojunkie Jul 20, 2011 10:10 PM

            The best of Toronto are pretty mediocre compared to the croissants in France. Somewhere like Jules is passable, but doesn't really hit the mark. Croissants are one of the things that I just don't bother eating here; if I have enough of a craving, I make them myself.

            That being said, if he's not a total croissant snob, Jules, Nadège, Daniel et Daniel, etc. all have perfectly palatable croissants. They just aren't excellent croissants.

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            Daniel et Daniel
            248 Carlton St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

          2. s
            Sacherboy RE: uberathlete Jul 16, 2011 01:28 PM

            At Last! I have been telling anyone that would listen for years now that Patisserie D'or's are the best. (They are also two of the nicest people you will ever meet, )

            If you want to try the other variations, their chocolate/almond will make you weak in the knees!

            1. d
              doji RE: uberathlete Jul 16, 2011 07:01 PM

              Nice list! I have fond memories of the plain croissant at Bonjour Brioche. (though I haven't had one in a few months). Agree on Jules, with Nadege right up there.

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              Bonjour Brioche
              812 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

              1 Reply
              1. re: doji
                NonStickSteel RE: doji Nov 5, 2012 08:25 PM

                I'll second the Bonjour Brioche. Excellent croissant.

                www.nonsticksteel.com

              2. Googs RE: uberathlete Jul 20, 2011 06:28 AM

                I can't believe you skipped Daniel et Daniel at Carlton & Parliament. Definitely one of the big time contenders. Get back out there and eat!

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                Daniel et Daniel
                248 Carlton St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

                11 Replies
                1. re: Googs
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                  uberathlete RE: Googs Jul 21, 2011 05:27 AM

                  Will do! Just an aside but it's quite sad that patisseries/boulangeries here in Canada have a big disadvantage compared to France and other European countries. Our butter isn't very good, and together with eggs and dairy, prices are ridiculous. So I can understand why products here are rarely on par with those in France. Then again, there's an increasing trend of shops there offering fake and subpar croissants as well.

                  1. re: uberathlete
                    p
                    plug RE: uberathlete Jul 21, 2011 07:51 AM

                    but one would think the higher quality patisseries make their own butter here?

                    1. re: plug
                      t
                      tjr RE: plug Jul 21, 2011 08:42 AM

                      They'd still have to use Canadian milk (while I don't necessarily think Canadian milk is bad, the dairy cartel here operates in a much different way than the production of milk works in France). Plus, no beurre cru. Plus, even the metro stop convenience croissants have access to high quality, professional butters.

                      It's certainly possible, but I suspect that acquiring product of a similar quality to those available cheaply in France would result in croissants that cost like $10-15, which obviously not even croissant lovers are willing to spend. I mean, even grocery store puff pastry in France produces better croissants than most of the places in Toronto doing it from scratch.

                      That being said, I do find a place like Jules to have acceptable croissants. They're good, they're just not France.

                      1. re: plug
                        r
                        RogerDoger RE: plug Jul 21, 2011 09:15 AM

                        No one makes their own butter here and I doubt many would make their own butter in Paris as well I cannot see them making their own butter that is a whole different business / skill / process then making pastries. Unless you would be willing to pay 3 times the price for your croissants all bakeries will continue to use the same butter that you and I can buy at the supermarket.

                        I had a great Pastry basket at the Royal York at a meeting they had mini croissants (plain, almond and chocolate) about half the size of a regular one so I was able to eat all three.. they were great! anyone know if they make their own or who makes them?

                        1. re: RogerDoger
                          p
                          plug RE: RogerDoger Jul 21, 2011 10:07 AM

                          I"m assuming the Royal York one is supplied by their own York's deli and bakery but i could be wrong.

                          1. re: RogerDoger
                            s
                            Snarf RE: RogerDoger Jul 27, 2011 11:07 PM

                            With all respect, there are small batch organic butters available, so the starter product is not necessarily the same across the board.There are also a few chefs who churn their own butter and make it available through non retail channels as well.

                            1. re: Snarf
                              r
                              RogerDoger RE: Snarf Jul 28, 2011 06:06 AM

                              At the price AND volume that are needed to do production levels for croissants.. I would beg to differ.. about 2/3 of the ingredient costs of a croissant is the butter. So increase that cost and you have to increase the cost of the end product. How do these "small batch organic butters" compare in price to mass produced butters? 50% more? 75%?

                              Sure it is easy to churn a pound of butter for your restaurant but try to make 60pounds for your croissants you would need special milk deliveries, storage tanks, butter making equipment... next people will want the bakers to grow their own wheat on the roofs! :-)

                            2. re: RogerDoger
                              j
                              JennaBean RE: RogerDoger Jul 28, 2011 07:12 AM

                              Slightly off topic but About Cheese on Church street has some amazing location and Quebec butters totally worth the money if you're a butter person!

                              -----
                              About Cheese
                              483 Church St, Toronto, ON M4Y 2C6, CA

                        2. re: Googs
                          w
                          WestsideDiner RE: Googs May 27, 2013 12:00 PM

                          As much as I'd like to wish Daniel and Daniel continued catering success; I would stop at calling their croissants "great". Returned today from a special croissant trip out to Cabbagetown, disappointed.

                          If it wasn't for uberathlete's original post, I would not have discovered Jules - even after being in TO for three plus decades. So I hope she/he does update this thread if he/she finds anything better or comparable to Jules and/or
                          Patisserie D'Or.

                          1. re: WestsideDiner
                            s
                            Strongbad789 RE: WestsideDiner Aug 1, 2013 10:31 AM

                            I agree. Daniel et Daniel may have had great croissants at one point, but they don't anymore.

                            Great croissants (and other baked goods) are available just up the street, though, at Cafe Olya (although they don't bake very many and you never know what they're going to be baking at any time, so they're not a reliable source).

                            1. re: Strongbad789
                              Googs RE: Strongbad789 Aug 1, 2013 10:37 AM

                              Whereas I think D&D may be baking too many in order to satisfy local demand. Seems like they won't have to worry about that much longer if it keeps going this way.

                        3. a
                          acd123 RE: uberathlete Jul 21, 2011 08:13 AM

                          You missed Chabichou. Also, Sam James Coffee Bar, who sells croissants made by JP Chalet from Ici Bistro.

                          -----
                          Chabichou
                          Toronto, Toronto, ON , CA

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: acd123
                            s
                            Snarf RE: acd123 Jul 27, 2011 11:02 PM

                            I think that Chabichou sells Jules products.

                            -----
                            Chabichou
                            Toronto, Toronto, ON , CA

                            1. re: acd123
                              j
                              julesrules RE: acd123 Nov 5, 2012 11:34 AM

                              Anyone know if Sam Janes PATH location still uses these croissants? They do look good, but tiny.

                            2. kwass RE: uberathlete Jul 21, 2011 10:03 AM

                              Somebody already mentioned it, but Epi makes really good butter croissants!

                              1. CocoaChanel RE: uberathlete Jul 28, 2011 03:35 AM

                                *bookmarking
                                Unfortunately (?!), so many of these places are near by

                                :)

                                1. g
                                  ggom1 RE: uberathlete Jul 28, 2011 05:18 PM

                                  This post is awesome :-o I'm a fan of Epi Bread croissants, so I'm curious to see how they'll stack up.

                                  -----
                                  Epi Breads
                                  1526 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G, CA

                                  1. t
                                    TOFoodie1 RE: uberathlete Aug 20, 2012 06:24 AM

                                    I recently tried the croissants at Patisserie 27 (Jane, just north of Annette) and they were excellent (plain and almond) and encourage you to try them. I'm curious to see how they rank in your list.

                                    Patisserie 27
                                    401 Jane St
                                    Toronto, Ontario
                                    m6s3z6
                                    416-762-2103

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: TOFoodie1
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                                      uberathlete RE: TOFoodie1 Aug 20, 2012 07:22 PM

                                      Wow, another one for the tasting! Thanks for letting us know of this place.

                                      1. re: uberathlete
                                        g
                                        ghostdogg RE: uberathlete Aug 21, 2012 08:34 AM

                                        Personally, I think Rahier makes the best croissants/pains au chocolat in the city, on par with some of the very best in Paris. I'd rank Nadege in the top 3, too. Just my two francs worth, as a French-educated palate and dessert addict...

                                        1. re: ghostdogg
                                          d
                                          danthediner RE: ghostdogg Nov 4, 2012 06:59 PM

                                          Tried the Almond Croissants from Mabel's Bakery on Queen West today (@ Beaconsfield, near the Drake Hotel) and they were delish!!!

                                          Go early, they usually sell out before noon.

                                          1. re: danthediner
                                            kwass RE: danthediner Nov 5, 2012 09:48 AM

                                            Planning on going today. Will report back.

                                            1. re: kwass
                                              kwass RE: kwass Nov 5, 2012 02:05 PM

                                              Unfortunately, couldn't make it in today :) Will get there soon though!

                                    2. janel RE: uberathlete May 28, 2013 07:46 AM

                                      I recently tried a croissant at Patisserie La Cigogne (Danforth location) and was quite happy with it.

                                      1. PoppiYYZ RE: uberathlete Aug 1, 2013 07:54 AM

                                        +1 for Nadege.

                                        Warning : Do not attempt to eat one in your car.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: PoppiYYZ
                                          c
                                          catherine88 RE: PoppiYYZ Aug 1, 2013 04:58 PM

                                          +2 for Nadege

                                        2. l
                                          lucywinchester RE: uberathlete Aug 1, 2013 08:16 AM

                                          The croissants at Mon K Patisserie - the new bakery on Coxwell just south of O'Connor are a must-try. They also make great danishes, and baguette, among other things.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: lucywinchester
                                            c
                                            cheesymama RE: lucywinchester Aug 1, 2013 09:53 AM

                                            Just a heads up that they are closed for 2 weeks for summer holidays. Definitely worth a visit when they re-open!

                                          2. s
                                            Strongbad789 RE: uberathlete Aug 1, 2013 10:33 AM

                                            Patisserie 27 at Jane and Annette has my favourite croissants in the city. Light, very flaky, great butter flavour...I just wish they weren't way out in the west end.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Strongbad789
                                              bunnylicious RE: Strongbad789 Aug 1, 2013 04:55 PM

                                              Agree,27 is one of my favourite spots. My toddler loooves their made-to-order viennoiseries. Their croissants are always delicious, as are their other viennoiseries.

                                              1. re: bunnylicious
                                                kwass RE: bunnylicious Aug 1, 2013 05:08 PM

                                                What are viennoiseries?

                                                1. re: kwass
                                                  bunnylicious RE: kwass Aug 1, 2013 06:30 PM

                                                  Viennoiseries are basically croissant-type pastries/baked goods e.g. apple turnovers, pain au chocolat, almond croissants, etc. Patisserie 27's are all pretty fabulous. Had a delicious orange brioche the other day. They even have a beer croissant sometimes, which is interesting.

                                                  1. re: bunnylicious
                                                    kwass RE: bunnylicious Aug 1, 2013 06:40 PM

                                                    Gotchya. Thanks bunny!

                                            2. PoppiYYZ RE: uberathlete Aug 2, 2013 07:22 AM

                                              Even though the croissants from Nadege were excellent, when I arrived at 9am the other day, just before they opened, the sole employee was taking the pastries from refrigerated drawers and placing them into the display cases. There was no smell of baking at all.

                                              Are the croissants even baked there?

                                              1. kwass RE: uberathlete Oct 20, 2013 10:34 AM

                                                Just accidentally posted to another thread, so I wanted to repeat what I said here. I finally made it to Patisserie 27 today, and they have, without a doubt, the best butter croissants in the city. They beat out Epi, which up until now I thought had the best croissants, and Pain Perdu.

                                                It's a little out of the way, but definitely worth the trip!!!

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: kwass
                                                  justxpete RE: kwass Oct 20, 2013 10:48 AM

                                                  Nah. Best in the city are the ones Splendido serves at Brunch. But you can't just 'buy' them anywhere (currently), so maybe it disqualifies them.

                                                  1. re: justxpete
                                                    kwass RE: justxpete Oct 20, 2013 10:54 AM

                                                    That shouldn't disqualify them.

                                                    1. re: justxpete
                                                      kwass RE: justxpete Oct 20, 2013 11:01 AM

                                                      Are they served warm?

                                                      1. re: kwass
                                                        justxpete RE: kwass Oct 20, 2013 02:08 PM

                                                        I haven't had one in a few months, but I think they do.

                                                        1. re: justxpete
                                                          kwass RE: justxpete Oct 20, 2013 02:12 PM

                                                          Nice!

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