HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
What's your latest food quest? Tell us about it
TELL US

Croissants - SF Dish of the Month February 2014

h
hyperbowler Jan 31, 2014 05:37 PM

Croissants are the February 2014 Dish of The Month! Let the butter begin!

Now is your chance your try croissants you've not eaten before and report back on them. You might have a favorite croissant already, so use that to gauge the quality of your explorations. Tell us about the flakiness, butteriness, laminations, saltiness, breadiness, flavors. etc. How does it hold together?

If you revisit a place, please let us know about the place's consistency. Is it better on a certain day of the week or at a certain time of day? Is the regular fantastic, and the BBQ-flounder croissant terrible?

Here is a link to this month's vote:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/961538

  1. m
    Malcolm Ruthven Jan 31, 2014 06:17 PM

    I'll start this off a day early with my so-far favorite croissant in the Bay Area, probably the best I've had anywhere, at M.H. Bread & Butter in San Anselmo. I've had the plain one and the Chocolate Almond one, both best of type to me.

    http://ruthvenphotos2.com/mhbreadbutter (first two photos of food)

    6 Replies
    1. re: Malcolm Ruthven
      s
      SuburbanBohemian Feb 4, 2014 12:35 PM

      Second this. The almond croissant, especially, is a standout. MHBB is a treasure - almost everything I've had there has been great.

      1. re: Malcolm Ruthven
        RichInMV Feb 15, 2014 05:46 PM

        I hit MHBB this afternoon, on the way home from a bike ride - I got the last plain croissant, and given the late hour, it was very good - light, flaky and had a good amount of layering and air in the center (see the picture). I kind of wished for a bit more buttery flavor, but overall it was very good - certainly as good or better than many I've had in Europe.

         
         
        1. re: RichInMV
          w
          wally Feb 15, 2014 08:59 PM

          What time were you there? We came by at a bit after 4 and the chairs were upside down on the tables and it looked completely closed.

          1. re: wally
            RichInMV Feb 15, 2014 09:08 PM

            I think I was there a bit before 2 PM. They were definitely open, but the baked goods looked in relatively short supply. I think next time I will stop there on my way out, maybe 8 or 9 AM and see how the fresh croissants are...

            1. re: wally
              m
              Malcolm Ruthven Feb 15, 2014 09:17 PM

              They close at 4, according to their website.

              http://mhbreadandbutter.com/contact

              1. re: Malcolm Ruthven
                w
                wally Feb 15, 2014 09:24 PM

                Misled by Google on a phone. Thank you.

        2. Ruth Lafler Feb 3, 2014 12:48 PM

          Since I was running too late to get a croissant at Feel Good Bakery, I got one at Focaccia, right next to my office.

          As I remembered, this is not a great croissant. It's not terrible, though. The texture is way off: no layers, not "stretchy" on the inside and crisp on the outside. But the flavor is pretty good; it's enjoyable if you don't expect it to be a croissant. A definite step up from some of those dreadful puffy and/or soggy things that are passed off as croissants.

          1. h
            hyperbowler Feb 3, 2014 01:24 PM

            My first croissant for DOTM turned out not to be a croissant, but I'll report on it anyway since it looks like a croissant and tasted better than things labeled as croissants elsewhere. I've had two croissant-shaped cuernitos at Panaderia La Mexicana on 24th St, one at 7:30am and another at 5am. It's a sweet bread, kind of like challah, but the shape lends to a higher ratio of eggwashed crust. The 7:30am one was good and airy. The 5am one needed more time to cool and tasted of raw egg.

             
             
            1. escargot3 Feb 4, 2014 09:35 AM

              I just inhaled a near-impeccable (can there be such a thing?) croissant -- at Fournee in Berkeley. Wow.

              Perfect size/shape. Crisp 'n flakey exterior. Layered dough interior. My only disappointment: I would have liked a bit more of the butter flavor coming thru.

              I will be back soon to try the bacon 'n eggs nested in croissant dough. Looks like a winner as well. Actually EVERYTHING had strong eye appeal, especially the bergamot lemon tart.

              1 Reply
              1. re: escargot3
                Melanie Wong Feb 18, 2014 07:40 PM

                Since you reported on the plain croissant, I tilted toward the Seville marmalade croissant on Friday. It's round and squat, looking like a snail, but the dough is folded inward toward the center rather than spiraled. It almost looked like a kouign amann, but not quite as tall.

                I loved the crispness of the flaky outside layer. The housemade marmalade was attractively bitter, and there's a bit of ground nuts on top as well. Like you, I would have liked a bit more butter . . . but that's where the kouign amann comes through.

                Birdsall said this place knows lamination, and indeed it does.

                More about Fournée Bakery,
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8796...

                 
                 
                 
              2. Ruth Lafler Feb 4, 2014 09:47 AM

                Got my Feel Good croissant this morning.

                The last one I'd had was disappointing, and I was wondering if they were going downhill. However, this one restored my faith: shattering crisp buttery crust on the outside; tender, stretchy and layered on the inside, with a hint of yeast. Still one of the best around.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                  Ruth Lafler Apr 11, 2014 01:46 PM

                  Feel Good croissant -- note the shards of crust from cutting it!

                   
                   
                2. w
                  wondi Feb 4, 2014 12:27 PM

                  los gatos Fleur de Cocoa, and strangely enough the almond croissant at fresh and easy in mountain view - but only when the italian baker makes it. They only make about 8 per day, and they come out of the oven around 8:30am. If they are not outside by then, you can ask for one.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: wondi
                    Ruth Lafler Feb 4, 2014 02:10 PM

                    Ah, that sounds as if they are "real" almond croissants, made from leftovers from the day before, twice baked with almond paste/frangipane, not just topped with almonds. So much better than the typical croissant with almonds.

                    1. re: wondi
                      j
                      Jon914 Feb 9, 2014 03:41 PM

                      I second Fleur de Cocoa, especially the almond croissants which are done using the twice-baked method.

                      I've been wanting to get a bunch lately, but they consistently sell out unless you stop by in the morning.

                    2. a
                      absc Feb 6, 2014 08:35 AM

                      Still trying to recover from the cold that seems to be plaguing everyone I know in San Francisco, I stopped by Knead this morning for a croissant. The first one I have had from them in a while that was not still very warm, it was also baked a little darker than the last few I have had. That said, it still had the crisp crust and tender interior that I have come to expect.

                      They also sometimes sell both almond and butter pecan versions, as well as a cream version filled with whipped cream and covered in powdered sugar.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: absc
                        a
                        absc Feb 6, 2014 08:42 AM

                        Pictures here

                         
                         
                        1. re: absc
                          h
                          hyperbowler Feb 6, 2014 08:59 AM

                          Ha, we must have just crossed paths!

                          When the croissants at Knead patisserie in the Mission are good they're great, but I've had such inconsistent results over the past two years that I typically go for their other pastries. I've had burned croissants that were devoid of flavor and croissants that unraveled. Nothing looked too dark today, so I bit the bullet this Thursday morning at 8 AM, and had success.

                          They currently have three croissants: a plain, a cream filled, and a butter pecan croissant. The plain croissant was very crisp on the outside. Splitting it in half through the middle, there was a slightly too wet piece of dough inside that was easy to tug out , but was chewy, and delicious. The laminations were evident in the outer crust. Some points had a buttery flavor, others had that complex and enjoyable flavor you get from the outside crust of a freshly baked loaf of bread. The elbows were overcooked, all crunch but no flavor, but I will consider them a sacrifice to make the rest of the croissant so good.

                           
                           
                          1. re: hyperbowler
                            a
                            absc Feb 6, 2014 10:34 AM

                            I was there around 8.

                            By the way, my 11-year-old thinks that the cream croissant is an almost perfect treat. It is very reminiscent of a cream puff.

                            1. re: absc
                              h
                              hyperbowler Feb 6, 2014 12:04 PM

                              Good to know about the cream one! Is it straight cream, or a pastry cream or something?

                              From the looks of your photos, it looks like the center was a lot more structured than mine (either that, or you're better at tearing it apart :-) )

                              Edit: I will bring a knife to split future croissants!

                          2. re: absc
                            BernalKC Feb 6, 2014 11:26 AM

                            My problem with Knead croissants is seen in your photos. They just are not as delicately layered as some others. I call this the mille feuille pastry structure and texture though in English this term seems to refer specifically to mille feuille pastries. I haven't sampled enough to know about how consistent they are, but the ones I've had look like you've pictured - and that's just not as delicate as some others like Tartine, and my favorite, Sandbox. I like their flavor a lot, not the texture.

                            1. re: BernalKC
                              s
                              srr Feb 6, 2014 11:51 AM

                              Oh, my daughter and I shared a croissant from Sandbox last Saturday and it was excellent. We were covered in delicate shards of the layers which I consider a good sign.

                            2. re: absc
                              Melanie Wong Feb 18, 2014 11:47 AM

                              Here's a half-price Amazon Local deal for Knead,
                              http://local.amazon.com/san-francisco...

                            3. BernalKC Feb 6, 2014 12:37 PM

                              Does anyone know if its possible to buy croissants for take away from the Burlingame Sofitel? Some French friends of mine tell me their croissants are excellen - on part with the Sandbox croissants I shared with them. Wondering if anyone here has sampled them, and if its possible to get them without going to a restaurant at the Sofitel.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: BernalKC
                                Melanie Wong Feb 6, 2014 01:31 PM

                                This post from 10 years ago . . . yes, we've been singing Redwood City Sofitel's praises that long . . . seems to say you can buy them to go.
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2730...

                                1. re: BernalKC
                                  t
                                  TropiCal Feb 8, 2014 01:49 AM

                                  I'm a BIG fan of Sofitel's plain croissant - crispy, flaky exterior and nice layers of elasticity interior. Whatever butter they use has me hooked.
                                  The almond croissants are also amazing, packed full of frangipane and topped with thin almond shavings. Best fresh from the oven.
                                  The gift/snack shop carries them. If none in the display case, there may be some in the kitchen. The clerk can call the restaurant and check. Park near entrance and tell doorman you're picking up pastries, to avoid the parking lot fee.

                                  1. re: TropiCal
                                    h
                                    hyperbowler Feb 11, 2014 05:59 PM

                                    TropiCal's descriptions are accurate, even down to the parking tip! The croissants are small, certainly by American standards and the thin layers of dough are distinct, light, and flaky. Not at all oily. I prefer a bit more crunchiness and a more toasty flavor, so I'll probably get the almond one next time.

                                     
                                    1. re: TropiCal
                                      gourmandadventurer Mar 3, 2014 05:41 AM

                                      Then hop down to the Milk Pail in Mountain View and pick up a dozen frozen croissants make at home. They have a following as being close to old time Paris quality (packed on simple plain plastic bags, made by a local baker.)

                                  2. escargot3 Feb 8, 2014 11:59 AM

                                    The croissant at Acme the other day was a perfect size and shape. But tasted a little dry.

                                    1. m
                                      Mul Feb 8, 2014 02:22 PM

                                      TOUS les Jours opened up a month ago in Santa Clara, it's a French Korean bakery chain world wide. Just had the croissnt , very flaky and tasty.

                                       
                                       
                                      1. Dave MP Feb 10, 2014 09:53 AM

                                        Went to B Patisserie in Pac Heights on Sunday afternoon. Banana-chocolate-almond croissants were hot out of the oven. Also tried a pear almond croissant which was already cool.

                                        The hot croissant was definitely better. Oozy banana and chocolate made this feel like a cross between banana bread and croissant. The croissant pastry is very flaky and light. It sort of shatters and melts in the mouth. This was also the case with the pear croissant. I think I actually prefer croissants when they are ever slightly more chewy. Didn't try the plain croissants so will have to try one next time. Though this will be hard to do since the hot banana chocolate ones are so good.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Dave MP
                                          j
                                          Jon914 Feb 17, 2014 01:08 PM

                                          Just picked some plains and chocolate/banana ones up yesterday from B. Patisserie and gently reheated them at home.

                                          The plain was wonderful and everything I imagined it to be - rather buttery, flaky, crispy exterior and a little chew on the interior. The banana chocolate one was also great, if a little decadent. Sort of like a banana chocolate crepe in croissant form. I'd definitely get both again.

                                        2. walkoffdinner Feb 15, 2014 09:11 AM

                                          Well, I like the ones at Caffe Trieste, but I don't know where they get them from!

                                          1. d
                                            donbonus Feb 16, 2014 06:44 PM

                                            Neighbor Bakery, not even close.

                                            1. Ruth Lafler Feb 17, 2014 11:07 PM

                                              Dianda (SanMateo). Too soft, verging on bready. Could have used a bit more salt as well.

                                              1. BernalKC Feb 21, 2014 11:18 AM

                                                I conducted a taste-off between Sandbox Bakery and the Sofitel croissants this morning. My co-workers and I sampled three plain croissants and a pain au chocolat from Sofitel and an almond croissant from Sandbox. (Sofitel was sold out of almond croissants by the time I got there, foiling my plan for A:B testing!)

                                                The jury's verdict was unanimous. Sandbox wins, hands down. There were no complaints about the Sofitel pastries at all. They were both lovely with a rich buttery flavor. Sandbox stood out in terms of flakiness, layering, with a nice toasted crust. The cross section shots show how Sandbox's had a more uniform airiness and lightness. Very similar densities, but the leavening was more uniform with the Sandbox pastries.

                                                The three croissants were weighed: Sanbox 200g/3, Sofitel 165g/3. Sofitel's were slightly less expensive: $8.75 vs. $10.50

                                                 
                                                 
                                                 
                                                 
                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: BernalKC
                                                  BernalKC Feb 21, 2014 11:25 AM

                                                  The first two shots above are Sofitel's, the other are Sandbox's. I'll add that both were appropriately sized, which is to say on the small side when compared to other popular croissants, especially Tartine's.

                                                  1. re: BernalKC
                                                    h
                                                    hyperbowler Feb 21, 2014 11:46 AM

                                                    Thanks for bringing scientific rigor to the DOTM! :-)

                                                    I haven't been to Sandbox Bakery in a while, but they're my favorite SF Croissant, and they're consistent too.

                                                    1. re: BernalKC
                                                      a
                                                      Aridon99 Mar 10, 2014 05:21 PM

                                                      Did a side by side Sandbox vs Sofitel croissants. No contest, Sandbox won hands down. The Sofitel croissants were pretty homogeneous without well defined peaks created by vigorous yeast and butter activity. The texture was soft all around without a flaky crunchy crust. This croissant reminds me of the premade frozen ones Paris Hotel and Bellagio get (I spoke to the rep who works for the French company). Yes they are from France, but it's thawed and baked on site. 'Fresh Baked' doesn't mean much. If I just want a soft homogeneous croissant, Costco has them like $5.99 for 10 and not $3 each. Sandbox nails it just behind Tartine IMO.

                                                    2. Ruth Lafler Feb 22, 2014 10:01 PM

                                                      Two Berkeley croissants: La Farine and La Fournee.

                                                      I wasn't impressed with either of these. The La Fournee croissant was bland, without enough butter taste or salt. It was also on the soft side and not well laminated. The La Farine croissant was slightly -- but only slightly -- better, but it was a little dry and also not really buttery tasting.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                        j
                                                        JellyDoughnut Mar 4, 2014 05:27 PM

                                                        Hmm, I loved Fournee...reminded me of Paris...where do you like croissants? I can always use a good tip! Thanks.

                                                      2. ssfire Feb 23, 2014 11:05 AM

                                                        I taste tested a bunch of butter croissants that are available in the South Bay. Here's the Flickr set:

                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/sets/72157641416900204/

                                                        The one major determining factor for quality: whether a croissant had an off-putting "mealy" texture. It's hard to explain; the worst case was from Amour Patisserie in Los Gatos: as soon as you bite into it, the croissant disintegrates into what feels like a mouthful what feels like synthetic sawdust; then, as you chew it, the particles "squeak" against each other, making a rather loud noise in your mouth. It totally ruins the experience, and also seems to mask the flavor. I don't know what ingredients cause that: maybe margarine instead of butter, or some kind of flour?

                                                        I was hoping for super buttery flavor, crisp exterior, flaky/layered interior, and a tender, slightly doughy, pull-apart section in the very center.

                                                        I also found that it's mandatory to gently warm these up in a toaster over: about 7 minutes at 325; otherwise, with the high butter/grease content, it's just as bad as eating cold pizza.

                                                        Here's my evaluation, on a scale of 1 to 5. I sampled all these in the past month:

                                                        4.8/5: Satura cakes in Los Altos; also available at Bitter+Sweet in Cupertino: smaller than most. Greasier than most, but in a good way, because it's backed up with intense buttery flavor. Nicely crisp on the outside. Super flaky. Inside is great: just the right combination of softness and flakiness.
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12725011343/in/set-72157641416900204
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12725312114/in/set-72157641416900204/

                                                        4.6: The "Crepe and Brioche" bakery that sells pastries at the Sunnyvale and California Ave farmer's markets. I think they have a bakery in SF, but I'm not sure which one it is, or if they only do farmer's markets / wholesale. Excellent buttery flavor. Nice crisp exterior, but still pull-apart tender inside. Not too greasy. Just a little mealy, but overall, excellent.
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12258342415/in/set-72157641416900204/
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12258504903/in/set-72157641416900204/

                                                        4.6: Fleur de Cocoa in Los Gatos: very tiny. I'm pretty sure I got the "full size" version, but it looks like a super tiny "mini size" version. Great crispy exterior; nice flavor, but could be a little more buttery. A little too greasy: not enough buttery flavor to justify the high grease content. Great interior pull-apart tenderness.
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12725326744/in/set-72157641416900204/
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12725326594/in/set-72157641416900204/

                                                        4.4: Palo Alto Baking Co on California Ave: OK flavor: could be more buttery. Great exterior crispiness; great interior: flaky, nicely layered, and also some tender, almost-doughy pull-apart sections.
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12725308084/in/set-72157641416900204/
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12725006753/in/set-72157641416900204/

                                                        4.0: Starter bakery, from SF, and also sold at most Philz Coffee locations; great buttery flavor. The layers are very flaky and silky. Not mealy. Nicely crisp on the outside. The combination of buttery flavor an silkiness makes it addictive. But, it's a touch too airy and dry on the inside: it's lacking the moist, every-so-slightly-doughy pull-apart very center.
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12725004243/in/set-72157641416900204/
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12725004653/in/set-72157641416900204/

                                                        3.5: C'est Si Bon Bakery in San Jose, sold at Chromatic Coffee in Santa Clara: a bit too dry/mealy: disintegrates a little too much into sawdust. It has a sour note to it, in a bad way: instead of a nice sourdough flavor, it tastes like the yeast had run amok, and masks any buttery flavor. It's too dry on the inside: not enough tender pull-apart doughy goodness. very much of a "meh" experience. More greasy than usual (but not quite as greasy as Satura). However, the grease here is just "grease": it doesn't serve to amplify either the flavor or texture.
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12725013573/in/set-72157641416900204/
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12725013423/in/set-72157641416900204/

                                                        3.2: Paris Baguette. OK flavor. Nice and flaky, nicely crisp on the outside. But a bit too mealy. Inside doesn't have enough pull-apart tenderness. A bit too dry and airy in the inside.
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12725016313/in/set-72157641416900204/
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12724856115/in/set-72157641416900204/

                                                        3.0: Kee Wah Bakery in Cupertino: Very crisp exterior, very light and airy inside. But almost no flavor. Not enough pull-apart tenderness inside. slightly mealy. meh.
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12725319184/in/set-72157641416900204/
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12725018153/in/set-72157641416900204/

                                                        1.5: Bellano Coffee in Santa Clara: they make their own, fresh daily, hot out of the oven in the morning. Meh. it's more of a dinner roll. Not really layered. Not enough buttery taste. Too dry inside; not pull-apart tender, too mealy. A little rubbery on the outside. Might be OK as a jam delivery mechanism.
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12725309704/in/set-72157641416900204/
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12725009263/in/set-72157641416900204/

                                                        1.2: Specialty's Bakery and Cafe: no flavor, too dense, not flaky enough; Only a hint of layering. Looks like flattened road-kill, as if it failed to rise sufficiently. More like a dinner roll. Waste of calories.
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12725030183/in/set-72157641416900204/
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12725030003/in/set-72157641416900204/

                                                        1.0: Amour Patisserie in Los Gatos: Super mealy; disintegrates into Styrofoam-like sawdust; the particles squeak against each other as you try to chew it, making a loud noise in your mouth. I almost wanted to spit it out. The inside is too dry. OK flavor. Outside is not crispy enough.
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/12725020433/in/set-72157641416900204/
                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/1...

                                                        1. Ruth Lafler Feb 23, 2014 12:24 PM

                                                          Craftsman and Wolves:

                                                          Plain croissant -- I can't really be fair to this one, since by the time I got to it, it was a day old and I had to refresh it in the toaster oven. Still, I would give this one high marks for flavor. Maybe a tad lacking in elasticity in the center, but overall, pretty good.

                                                          Almond, pear croissant -- outstanding. A true twice-baked almond croissant with soft cooked pear layered with the frangipane filling.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                            BernalKC Feb 23, 2014 03:21 PM

                                                            I had two of their plain croissants today. I had hoped to face them off against Tartine's. The C&W line was pretty long but the Tartine line was ridiculous, even by Tartine standards. So no face off today.

                                                            I liked everything about C&W's plain croissants. Delicate layering, uniform texture, good balance between toasted exterior and moist but not mushy interior. (I think a day later and reheated I can see that it would have been too dried out.) A little bit more toasted than Sandbox's, which may have muted the buttery flavors a tad. A fine pastry for $2.75.

                                                          2. h
                                                            hyperbowler Feb 23, 2014 12:41 PM

                                                            Noe Valley Bakery: 8am weekday, very large and bready

                                                            Marla Bakery (Mission) : 11am Saturday, the regular croissant had nicely stuctured and crunchy elbows, but the buttery innards were too wet and the arch didn't have noticeable layering. A French woman standing in line recommended their orange flavored chocolatine, and it looked fantastic. Many gorgeous treats in their window...

                                                            Aramark: the chocolate filled croissant was a good baseline to confim I wasn't being too harsh elsewhere. So inelastic, I had to really yank it to pull it in half. Not very good, but a generous amount of chocolate that was soft enough to pair ok with the dough's texture.

                                                            Sandbox Bakery (Bernal) : BernalKC's report stirred a craving. The taste was a bit lacking at 9:30 on a Sunday , but the texture of the entire croissant was uniformly awesome. You can hear and feel each layer get split when you bite into it, but there's still enough elasticity that's there's some bounce to each bite.

                                                            Potential tip: A friend of mine told me about something she's been eating from Arizmendi on Irving. She said their croissants aren't great, but they have a delicious "bread" that tastes like it's made from croissant dough.

                                                            Other potential tip: Someone please nominate "steamed carrots" as the next DOTM :-)

                                                             
                                                             
                                                             
                                                             
                                                             
                                                             
                                                             
                                                            1. cometraveler Feb 25, 2014 08:11 PM

                                                              Casse-Croûte Bakery, Livermore has pretty good croissants, on a consistent basis. I like both their plain croissants and their pain au chocolat.

                                                              They are not too greasy like many of the croissants one finds in the Bay area, and they also taste like croissants, unlike many of those I have had that just taste like regular rolls.

                                                              Only downside is that they are a little out of the way, and they do run out of them

                                                              1. BernalKC Mar 2, 2014 04:03 PM

                                                                Conducted a head to head face-off between croissants from Tartine Bakery and Craftsman and Wolves. It was a hard job, but a couple of friends braced ourselves and went to work.

                                                                Step 1 was the weigh in, which validated what I've been saying about Tartine croissants. They are huge. Tartine: 154g, C&W: 45g. Tartine's were more expensive, but hardly 3:1. You can see size difference in the pictures too. Tartine's are not only bigger, they are denser. The other point I've made about Tartine croissants is the size leads to a trade-off between being too toasted, verging on burnt, or else being too gooey in the middle. In this case, they were on the verge of being burnt.

                                                                But I have to admit, these complaints are about the only negatives to report. We all agreed that Tartine's had a really sumptuous, buttery flavor. They may be denser, but you can see from the sectioned photos that the layering was excellent and the leavening was uniform and delicate. I found the crust to be slightly unpleasantly caramelized, but my friends had no complaints and instead thought Tartine's had a nice crunchiness that C&W's lacked.

                                                                This was my 2nd encounter with C&W croissants and, from this small sample size, I give them high marks for consistency. Nice delicate layering. Very even doneness throughout the pastry. They looked perfect to me. Since we were splitting the croissants among the taste testers, I had to cut each into quarters which meant I didn't get to play so much with pulling it apart. But I have to say that the C&W ones were not as crumbly as Tartine's, which is not a good thing for a croissant. Visually, the layering was beautiful. But the layers, especially towards the outside, didn't yield flaky crumbs. Mopping up the flaked remains of a croissant at the end makes for some of the best bites of a croissant. And C&W's remained more intact and left fewer crumbs. In fact, I think the uniform doneness muted the butter flavor in C&W's. Tartine's centers were moister and butterier.

                                                                The verdict: 5-1 for Tartine. I was the dissenting vote, because of the burntness and the size. For my other panelists, the buttery flavor and the crunchy crust won them over.

                                                                 
                                                                 
                                                                 
                                                                 
                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: BernalKC
                                                                  Melanie Wong Mar 3, 2014 09:22 PM

                                                                  The next time I complain that Tartine's croissants are too big and someone asks, "how huge are they?", I'll be able to say, "Three times bigger!"

                                                                2. Melanie Wong Mar 3, 2014 09:18 PM

                                                                  Late post . . . picked up a plain croissant from Mayfield Bakery in Palo Alto last Tuesday. Not really much to say about it, basically it's middle of the road all-round. Golden-brown, modest crispness, some layering, moderate amount of butter. Perhaps more suited to sandwich-making than enjoyed for its inherent croissant-ness.

                                                                  What I found there that was much better turned out to be the canele. Very dark and crusty, sweetness in check, good egginess, and could only be downgraded for being somewhat too damp inside. I'd place it behind La Fournee and Boulette's Larder, but a good effort and one I'd get again if in the area.

                                                                   
                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                                                                    k
                                                                    kewpie Mar 10, 2014 07:58 AM

                                                                    this is fantastic- thank you all

                                                                  2. Caitlin McGrath Apr 8, 2014 02:35 PM

                                                                    A friend and I tried a few croissants from Nick's Pizza in Oakland, which serves coffee and an assortment of croissants and scones in the morning.

                                                                    We didn't try the plain butter croissant, but did get three filled ones: chocolate ($2.75), almond ($2.75), and mixed mushroom and gruyere ($3). There's also a poached pear croissant, but they didn't have any in the case the other day.

                                                                    These croissants are made with sourdough starter, like Nick's pizza crust, and while the sourdough flavor is discernible, it's pretty subtle, and doesn't overwhelm the pastry's other qualities. Overall, these are well made - nicely browned, with a good, flaky exterior; fairly uniform layers inside with good elasticity; and a moderate butter flavor.

                                                                    The chocolate croissant was the miss among our samples. The chocolate had melted out the ends and what ended up on the exterior was a bit hard, while inside there was a tunnel without much filling. The mushroom was very nice, with a savory, flavorful filling that I think may be made with a combination of fresh and dried mushrooms; the pastry directly under the filling was a bit damp, however. The almond is not double baked, and the interior is tunneled, without any visible filling, but it turned out that the almond paste had melted into the pastry; overall, the flavor was very good, and very almond-y.

                                                                    http://oaklandstylepizza.com/nicks-pi...

                                                                     
                                                                     
                                                                     
                                                                     
                                                                    Show Hidden Posts