The Croissant Chronicles
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:
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)
Jules Patisserie (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.
1586 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G, CA
736 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6C, CA
1120 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4W, CA
4 Manor Rd E, Toronto, ON M4S, CA
4243 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M8X, CA
627 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S, CA
915 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA
244 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A, CA
Brick Street Bakery
1969 Queen St E, Toronto, ON , CA
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.
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.
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?
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! :-)
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.
Daniel et Daniel
248 Carlton St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA