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almond croissants at la Maison du Pain (longish)

j
j~ May 18, 2006 07:24 PM

I called la Maison du Pain in the morning to make sure that they had some-- or at least one-- almond croissants that I could put on hold. I was crushed when the woman said they didn't have any on hand, but it was ok. She told me that they could make some for me and have them ready in an hour.

Comping an overpriced dessert at a restaurant? Whatever. Offering to bake a croissant with an hours' notice after it got sold out (or just not produced) was the nicest thing a restaurant/bakery/shop had done. EVER.

I called an hour prior to the time I figured I'd be in the area. It actually ended up taking close to two hours due to errands. As promised, they had two waiting for me.

Sorry, board, but I really can't say that their version was anything I wanted or expected. The almond filling consisted of a syrupy mass with little nubby bits (ground almonds, perhaps? who knows?) instead of the traditional layers or log of almond paste. Instead of baking the filling in the croissant, they'd clearly cut the croissant in half and smeared the sweet, liquidy, and altogether not-almondy filling.

After a couple of bites, I gave up on eating the middle and ended up topping the crispier bits with some of the abbamele I had lying about in the car (yes, unusual, I know, but I hadn't bought anything bread-like since buying it).

Sadness.

I had really, really, really high hopes for the place after reading so many glowing reviews from the board.

The one time I went all the way over to Pasadena to try one from Europane, they'd sold out.

All I want is an almond croissant akin to the one they have at La Duree in Paris. Or la Provence (I think?) in, of all places, Portland.

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  1. l
    lipps RE: j~ May 18, 2006 10:01 PM

    There are many almond croissant discussions on this website - and i agree, the one you want is hard to find.

    Try the following:

    Delice on Pico just west of La Cienega - get the full size - the minis are never quite as delicious - my personal favorite.

    Amandine - on Wilshire just East of Bundy - a japanese/french take - husband loves them.

    Bread Bar - on 3rd Street just West of La Cienega - the baker is a french master and it translates well. Perfection.

    1. s
      Schweinhexen RE: j~ May 19, 2006 12:52 AM

      IMHO Bread Bar's almond croissant wins.... see for yourself.

      1. f
        Funwithfood RE: j~ May 19, 2006 06:42 PM

        I'm not sure almond croissants are their forte--have never had one there, everything else I've had has been excellent.

        My favorite croissants to date are Amandine. (I need to try Breadbar though to compare :)

        1. m
          maggie198333 RE: j~ Jan 30, 2008 09:49 PM

          I totally agreed. Their so-called almond chocolate croissant is not very good by any standard. It's greasy. When I bit into it, some juice (butter i supposed) came out. The chocolate chips inside were not evenly distributed. Granted, I picked them up in the afternoon so they might not be fresh from the oven. But, com'on the croissant from Europane is a hundred times tastier than the one from La Maison Du Pain.

          1 Reply
          1. re: maggie198333
            mermy RE: maggie198333 Jan 30, 2008 10:36 PM

            I agree. There is nothing special about their croissants at La Maison Du Pain. The croque madame was terrible - the cheese wasn't even melted, the egg was practically fried, and the bechamel sauce was no where to be found. The only good thing was we got our desserts to go... they were so bad that both my bf and I gagged on them and tossed the box. It would have been quite insulting if we gagged there at the store.

            Haven't tried Bread Bar but Europane and Amandine are just delicious....

          2. wutzizname RE: j~ Jan 30, 2008 10:48 PM

            Strange, the almond croissant I had at la Maison du Pain wasn't anything like that. I found it to be very traditional and excellent. And, like you said, the service was personal and friendly too. Perhaps they had run out of almond and the real baker had left and one of those helpful counterfolk tried to mock something up for you? I'd give 'em another shot. But call again to make sure.

            Personally, I find Amandine's to be far and away the best. la Maison du Pain was my second favorite and then Breadbar third. Breadbar is great but a very different style. Haven't tried Europane though.

            1. c
              CinnamonKitten RE: j~ Jan 31, 2008 03:07 AM

              Europane sold out of croissants??? Say it ain't so! I've never been to Europane when they weren't sold out of several things I've wanted and I've never been able to try one of their croissants- almond, fabled chocolate or otherwise because they have sold out. Saturday morning at 9:30 and no croissants time and time again. Why not just make more!?

              1. j
                Jet RE: j~ Feb 1, 2008 06:47 PM

                Hi. I havn't found anything here in the U.s> that truly equalls French (almond) croissents, but the ones from the Burbank Bakery -Restaurant, "Chez-Nous" comes pretty darn close. --JET

                1. c
                  chadjohnston RE: j~ Feb 1, 2008 06:56 PM

                  Believe it or not, Mayfair market on Franklin has some of the best almond croissants in Los Angeles...

                  1. c
                    condiment RE: j~ Feb 2, 2008 12:04 PM

                    Europane's used to be the best, but they stopped making them several years ago. There's a bearclaw, but it isn't quite the same.

                    The almond croissants at Susina are almost obscenely good, though: crunchy, buttery, flaky, oozing almond. The damp, dismal examples at Amandine and Maison du Pain aren't even worthy of being called the same thing - you might as welll be ordering fmor the drive-thru window at Starbucks.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: condiment
                      wutzizname RE: condiment Feb 2, 2008 12:30 PM

                      Tastes vary, yes, but the comparison of an Amandine croissant to Starbucks is straight up heresy. Were this medieval times you should be quickly and rightly hanged. In lieu of that, might I suggest http://www.nmha.org/go/help/

                      1. re: wutzizname
                        wutzizname RE: wutzizname Feb 3, 2008 01:20 PM

                        P.S. I love Susina. I'm there almost every day. But I had never tried their Almond Croissant. Why? Because I didn't know they had one...because, I learned today when I went to try one, their almond croissants don’t look like almond croissants, but rather like plain croissants, with powdered sugar on top.

                        Okay. So I tried one. And here’s where those varying tastes come in.

                        I can see now why you might call the Amandine and Maison du Pain versions “damp” -- because the Susina version in bone dry. More like eating an almond flavored roll than a sweet, delicious pastry. I found it infinitely less satisfying than the dreamy Amandine’s. The filling most certainly didn’t “ooze,” but in fact just sat there like a dense, heavy paste. It also tasted a bit artificial, like it got too strong a hit from the almond extract bottle. This version may appeal to some, but certainly not to the droves who line up at Amandine each weekend morning waiting for their near perfect fix. I live a few blocks from Susina and love many of their desserts, but I’ll continue wrestling traffic, and driving 30 minutes+ to get to Amandine when the real almond croissant need calls.

                        Oh, and one more thing that’s missing from Susina’s almond croissant…almonds.
                        Sure, there may be plenty ground up in that heavy unfulfilling filling, but there is not-a-one on top. The gravy on the Amandine et al. versions are the thinly sliced exterior almonds that burn just slightly in the oven, giving it that wonderful, natural, toasty almond flavor on top. And when you’re done, there are always a few fallen ones at the bottom of the bag, waiting for you to scoop them up and pop them in your mouth, like a sweet little bonus goodbye.

                        1. re: wutzizname
                          PseudoNerd RE: wutzizname Feb 4, 2008 07:31 AM

                          My problem with Susina's almond croissants is that, like everything else they carry, it tastes like the interior of Susina. Whether you take it away or eat in, everything tastes like the interior of Susina.

                          Ugh.

                          1. re: PseudoNerd
                            f
                            friedegg67 RE: PseudoNerd Feb 7, 2008 02:07 PM

                            You are so right about Susinas.

                            1. re: PseudoNerd
                              love2eat RE: PseudoNerd Feb 7, 2008 03:45 PM

                              Yes! So true! I thought I was the only one that felt this way. From the cookies to the pastries, they all have that smell/taste which gets very nauseating after a while.

                      2. lvgoodfood RE: j~ Feb 4, 2008 09:59 AM

                        Paris Baguette in Korea Town has excellent croissants, and every pastry we tasted was nothing but just excellent. You might want to give it a try. Also, everything is very clean, and smells so good.

                        1. b
                          bulavinaka RE: j~ Feb 8, 2008 11:06 AM

                          In the Westside, Amandine has been rightfully mentioned already - most things there are very good to excellent. Another place that has been serving up some excellent almond croissants is 3 Square Bakery on Abbot Kinney. The crescent-shaped croissant is generous in size, completely covered in sliced blanched almonds and filled with (what I think is) a marzipan-based filling that is creamier in texture and taste. The the bread portion is more hearty and flakey than a typical croissant but still has a nice buttery flavor.

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