My hunt for the perfect croissant continues, aided most recently by my friends at ParisbyMouth.com. It’s awesome to have a bunch of local afficianados for such recommendations. Between them and my usual cast of foodie characters, I’m beginning to discover progressively more obscure shops. While today features two chains, plus one of the less-sung heroes, you’ll start to see more little-known gems weaving their way in here.
Now, as you know, I’ve been extremely fond of Des Gateaux et du Pain’s croissant for the last month or two – so much so that I’ve speculated some Divine Intervention. Well, DGedP might have now been trumped. Bread & Roses has taken me to a new level of croissant splendor. I’ll of course pit them head-to-head before I leave Paris in a few months, but the new contender for the #1 seed is quite something. Also up today are two other solid showings from Poilâne and Eric Kayser. Shall we now indulge? . . .
Bread & Roses (above): As I bit in, the skin gave way with a mix of both big and small crumbling flakes – like a veritable “something for everybody” texture. Chew, chew, chew . . . wow! Not only is this little guy sublimely buttery, but there is a totally discernable taste of fresh cream. I’ll just say it again . . . wow. The internal texture is not too unlike Des Gateaux’s, in that it does succumb to the lips quite readily. As if the combined taste and textural experience weren’t great enough already, it’s the aftertaste that makes the croissant truly epic. Smoky, creamy, warmly toned and buttery. I didn’t want to eat or drink anything for at least 15 minutes afterward. All I wanted was for it to linger on my palate for…ever. While a repeat visit lacked the majesty of the first round, it was still an exceptional piece that beat-out DGedP on an average day. Score: 9
And now on to Poilâne…
Poilâne: Not only does Poilâne open at 7:15, which is awesome for an early riser like me, but it has an olden-timey charm that cannot be beat. There’s no fancy cash-register, and it appears they keep hand-written paper records of every purchase that’s made. As for the croissant – it’s a notch above really good. The exterior is beautiful, though a bit bready and was flaking in big chunks with each bite. The internal texture was soft and buttery, though no salty or sweet tones to speak of here. It’s mostly how I imagine classic croissants must have been long ago. Overall, it’s a fun one to experience. Score: 7.5
And now on to Eric Kayser…
Eric Kayser: I must admit that I was a little shocked at the quality of this . . . in a good way. Expecting more of a travesty than something enjoyable, I was like, “What?!” Although it’s not up to the level of the two above, it’s a perfectly acceptable croissant with pleasant butter tones and a good internal structure that provides a more than satisfactory mouth-feel. I guess I can’t really ask for any more from a chain. Score: 7
I’m beginning to discover that most croissants essentially taste the same and are, in fact, quite boring. But if Bread & Roses, Des Gateaux et du Pain, and Pierre Hermé can create standouts, then hope is not lost. Will I find a perfect 10 somewhere here in the city? Only time will tell.