In Search of Crisped, Flaky, Buttery Croissants - Croissant Journey at Chaumont, Maison Giraud, Bouchon, Proof & Pitchoun


#41

Dang. Proof is my next stop on the croissant express. Any discernible reason for the downturn?

And out of curiosity, opening up the field to croissants outside of LA, where’s your favorite?


#42

I just tried a plain croissant from Rockenwagner. Pulled it from the self-serve baked case at Whole Foods in Playa Vista. I was surprised at the change in the size and texture of their plain croissant - more compact and lamination was seriously layered and textural.

I warmed it in the toaster oven - fail on my part. I burned about half of the exterior. But still - after pulling away the char, I was surprised at how crispy the exterior of the unburnt parts were. Very buttery in flavor and tender on the Inside.

Considering how easy it is to find Rockenwagner/3-Square pastries around town, their croissants willl be more than acceptable in a pinch. I need to get a taller toaster oven.


#43

Hi @President_Mochi,

Glad you liked Chaumont! :slight_smile:

Hi @bulavinaka,

Yah I tried reheating a few croissants over the years, all to no avail (they all burn).


#44

Same! I’ve been frequenting my local intelligentsia for a latte + her croissant.

Now i gotta try Chaumont!


#45

Update 2:

Coincidentally, prior to our sudden trip up to San Francisco, we had stopped by Chaumont.

Croissant:

Taking a bite, and it reminded me of why we love Chaumont’s Croissant so much: It’s flaky, crisp, fluffy on the inside and has that wonderful, French Butter taste. :slight_smile:

But now that we were in San Francisco, it was time to try what many people call the “holy grail” for Croissants, at Tartine Bakery.

Tartine Bakery

It seems like every single friend of ours that visits San Francisco (or is from there) has told us to visit Tartine. I’ve had it bookmarked for so long, but we just didn’t get a chance to ever go until now.

So with great anticipation we finally got a chance to visit. Showing up, there were only about 6 people in line (not bad). The pastry case looked wonderful already. :slight_smile:

Croissant:

The first thing that struck us as odd was that the Croissant was burnt(!). :frowning: But perhaps that little bit of burnt Croissant was on purpose and the taste was the most important thing.

The first bite revealed a light crispiness on the exterior, but a slightly dry, airy interior. There was still a little bit of soft pastry inside, but it was also dryish. :frowning:

And then biting into the middle portion, and indeed that burnt section of the Croissant was definitely burnt. You got this bitter, burnt taste that really ruined that middle portion of the Croissant unless you peeled it away. Looking into the case, I noticed the entire batch of Croissants had a dark / burnt top! :cry:

Definitely far worse than Chaumont and Proof.

Banana Cream Tart (Dark Chocolate Coated Flaky Pastry, Caramel, Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream):

But then, thankfully due to a recommendation from the staff, we also ordered their Banana Cream Tart. And I’m so glad we did! :slight_smile:

Easily one of the Best Bites of 2017 so far for me, imagine this flaky Pastry Shell, but coated with a layer of Valrhona Dark Chocolate, cooled and hardened so it gives each bite a nice little crunch-snap!, and filled with Bananas, Caramel and Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream.

It was incredible! SO GOOD! :heart:

One of the best offerings from any bakery we’ve been to in the past few years! :blush:

So overall, Tartine’s famous Croissant was a huge disappointment, but our visit was redeemed with the amazing Banana Cream Tart.

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Tel: (415) 487-2600

http://www.tartinebakery.com/

Arsicault Bakery

Next up, we went to a place recommended by @ipsedixit, and it was voted Bon Appetit’s Best New Bakery in America 2016(!). We couldn’t wait to try this place. :slight_smile:

Walking in, it’s a humble neighborhood Bakery, a small little shop, and there’s a nice homey feel to it. :slight_smile:

Croissant:

Taking a bite, and you get this amazing blend of a light crisped exterior, flakiness, and soft, pillowy interior. There’s a beautiful, noticeable buttery taste, it almost tastes like the French Butter we love at places like Chaumont and Maison Giraud, however, it’s more refined and less noticeable. There’s a subtle sweetness to it as well (in a good way) that dances off the tongue. :slight_smile:

It turns out Arsicault uses 2 types of Butter for their Croissant, a French Butter and an Irish Butter, so that’s why it has a wonderful buttery taste that we like, but it’s not as pronounced because of the blend.

Either way, this was phenomenal! So delicious and probably tied for my favorite Croissant in the U.S.! :blush:

Almond Croissant:

I love Almond Croissants, so we had to order one of these as well. :slight_smile: Sadly (as you can see from the pics), the Almond Croissants were burnt. :frowning:

Looking back into the case as we left, and the whole batch was similarly burnt / dark colored. Maybe it was a bad batch, but it was disappointing.

The Almond Croissant was burnt throughout so it was slightly bitter, but even the Almond Paste filling within, while lightly sweet and fragrant, lacked the beautiful flavors we enjoyed at other places in our Croissant Journey.

Kouign Amann:

The versions I’ve run into of Kouign Amann have been so drastically different, I have no idea what the “traditional / ideal” version is supposed to be like. :sweat_smile: The last one we had at Republique was fine, but this version at Arsicault was crazy. It had copious amounts of Sugar - too sugary for my tastes - and also very buttery. It was crisped and crunchy on the outside.

Croissant, Part 2:

Their Croissant was so good we had to order another one. :slight_smile: I wanted to take it to-go and snack on it as we walked around San Francisco…

But then as we both stared at the beautiful golden crust, and stared at each other, suddenly the Croissant was gone within a matter of seconds! Just a flurry of Croissant flakes were left on the plate. Oh well. :yum: :grin:

Arsicault Bakery is a stunner, and they definitely have made our favorite Croissants in San Francisco so far! :blush: Definitely worth a visit (thanks again @ipsedixit).

Arsicault Bakery
397 Arguello Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94118
Tel: (415) 750-9460

Arsicault was so good, we had to confirm how it compared to our current favorite, Chaumont. So right off the plane at “wonderful” LAX, off we went to Chaumont…

Chaumont Bakery (Revisit)

Croissant:

Visually, Arsicault’s is the prettier of the two, but taking a bite… ah that amazing, deep, moving French Butter taste comes pouring through. :blush:

There’s this amazing, deeper, purer French Butter flavor that comes through with Chaumont’s Croissant, along with its crisp exterior and airy, soft interior. :slight_smile:

But I’d say I liked Arsicault’s just as much for it’s lighter balance of flavors, but still having a great buttery taste.

Almond Croissant:

And then the Almond Croissant. Ah! Chaumont’s is so good! :slight_smile: A great crunchy exterior, and the Almond filling was nuttier, more aromatic, and it just was brighter than Arsicault’s (and it wasn’t burnt like Arsicault’s). Definitely a must order if you like Almond Croissants. :slight_smile:

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake:

And it looked like Chaumont had a new offering we hadn’t seen before, their Chocolate Hazelnut Cake. A beautiful presentation, with a little excessive use of edible Gold Flake. They use a Valrhona Dark Chocolate outer shell that’s been chilled, to make a nice little crunchy exterior, with a silky, creamy Hazelnut Cream filling inbetween layers of Chocolate Cake. It was delicious! :slight_smile:

Overall, we were happy to finally try 2 of San Francisco’s best bakeries. After trying the famed Tartine, I think Chaumont, Proof and Arsicault were far superior. Chaumont’s Croissant remains our favorite in terms of pure deep taste, but Arsicault is right up there, and easily our “1A”. :slight_smile:

Chaumont Bakery
143 S Beverly Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Tel: (310) 550-5510

http://chaumontbakery.com/


#46

Is well-known for its croissants? I thought it was more well-known for its bread, but maybe that’s my own bias. You didn’t happen to try any of their bread, did you??? :slight_smile:

Disappointing to hear about their croissant. I wouldn’t have thought it burned by the picture alone, but that’s too bad it TASTED burnt. My partner loves banana cream, so hopefully they’ll bring it to LA.

Your dedication to the puff pastry is truly inspirational! :smiley:


#47

I don’t think Tartine is primarily known for Croissants–more for its bread and then also the morning bun. The croissant is actually supposed to be right up to the brink of burned. It is similar to the Lodge situation in that some like it, and some don’t, but if you read the Tartine baking book or other interviews they are clearly going for some of the flavor changes that come along with taking the croissant right up to the edge.


#48

Hi @paranoidgarliclover,

Thanks! :slight_smile: Ah, maybe it’s hearing it from multiple friends (either in the Bay Area) or visited a few times. I guess it was just a small sample size, but they all mentioned “get the Croissant!” over the years. :smile:

Bread: No. :frowning: I saw some loaves of Bread for sale, but, we weren’t at “home” in L.A., so I didn’t think we could finish an entire loaf of Bread during our trip. :sweat_smile: I also didn’t think it’d keep and I didn’t have room in my luggage. :frowning:

Yah their Banana Cream Tart is amazing! Definitely order that (I don’t even like Banana that much).


#49

Thanks @Haeldaur.

Yah as I mentioned to @paranoidgarliclover, maybe it’s just the small sample size of a bunch of our friends… they just all mentioned the Croissant the most (out of the variety of things we should get if we go to Tartine).

Interesting that they wanted to push it up to the point of being burnt: For ours, it tasted burnt in the middle portion, so there was a “flavor change” I guess. But just not that appetizing. Beyond that though, it was slightly dryish and not as good as Chaumont, Proof or Arsicault.

Thanks for the rec on the Morning Bun, I’ll have to try that next time. :slight_smile:


#50

Based on a tasting this past weekend, Proof Bakery (Atwater Village) has shot back up to the #1 croissant in L.A. for me. (Fortunately, news of its recent downward slide were not substantiated on my visit.)

As for the croissant itself: Buttery, but not oily… Lightly fluffy, yet with a satisfying density on bite, with excellent “shatter”… Its aftertaste carries an ever-so-slight saltiness which begs for yet another bite. Supreme baking, if you ask me.

Plus, they make an outstanding (vegan) banana loaf withOUT nuts! Yay!


#51

Hi @J_L,

Nice! Thanks for the report back. I’ll have to give it a try soon, and that vegan banana loaf as well. :slight_smile:


#52

Update 3:

In exploring Croissants more and more, I’ve come to realize the shelf life for the plain Croissant is ephemeral at best. They simply don’t hold up as well, or taste as amazing as when they are fresh out of the kitchen, ready to eat.

This came to a head on this quick update. Based on @J_L’s recommendation and excitement for Proof Bakery, we once again headed out to see how they stacked up.

Proof Bakery (Revisit)

Croissant:
Time from Oven: 3+ Hours

I excitedly dug in to see if Proof had improved since our last visit.

It had a nice shatteringly crisp exterior, a subtle, clean Butter undertone (they use American Butter), but it was so dry! :sob: It was extremely dry actually, worse than the last visit to Proof. :frowning: I respect @J_L’s opinion and the restaurants we’ve gone to based on the great reviews have been excellent.

At this point, I decided to ask the question to their manager and found out a few key things:

Proof only makes 1 batch of Plain Croissants daily (in the morning). After that, they don’t make any more the rest of the day.

The Croissant I ate was “over 3 hours” since the time it came out of the oven. This absolutely has something to do with how Croissants taste.

I’ve since added a category in this post (and future posts) to note when they’re last made to compare and understand better.

Proof Bakery
3156 Glendale Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Tel: (323) 664-8633

Chaumont (Revisited)

So it was back to Chaumont to see how they compared to Proof and to get details on their baking rounds, time tables, etc.

Croissant:
Time from Oven: 2 Hours

Taking a bite, these had that amazing deep French Butter taste still, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, however, for the first time in all our visits, I had one edge taste a bit dry.

I noted the time - 2 Hours since they came out of the oven - and asked the staff their about their schedule:

  • Chaumont bakes Plain Croissants throughout the day in small batches, usually a batch every 2 - 3 hours.

Cinnamon Twist:

We decided to try their Cinnamon Twist today. It looked glossy and delicious, but sadly, they were a bit dense, and the Cinnamon was there, but it just tasted so-so. :frowning:

Sun-Dried Tomato, Basil, Goat Cheese Croissant:
Time from Oven: Immediate.

As we were picking up the Plain Croissant, we noticed one of the staff pop out of the kitchen with a tray of freshly baked savory Croissants. They looked amazing. We had to order one and see if right out of the oven / kitchen compared.

These were amazing! :open_mouth: :slight_smile:

Fantastic, crisp exterior, fluffy, delicate, moist interior, with that stunning French Butter taste, but with a gentle note of Basil, Sun-Dried Tomato and a light Goat Cheese (not too much).

Sure, this is something more California than the typical Croissant, but wow, was it just an amazing Croissant! :blush:

And the time from the oven? Immediate (it was just made / cooled enough / ready to serve). Amazing!

I wanted to see if Croissants held up at a closer time period, so we went back the next day:

Croissant:
Time from Oven: 1 Hour.

Shattering crispiness and fluffy, soft, slightly moist on the inside (not dry), this was the Chaumont taste we’ve come to love! Amazing French Butteriness, we inhaled the Croissant. :blush:

At this point it seems the “sweet spot” for Chaumont Plain Croissants is anywhere from just out of the kitchen (fresh batch) up to a little over 1 hour or so.

At 2 hours out of the oven, it was still good, but I noticed a little dryness on the last bite.

I want to try Proof again, when I can get in closer to when they release their first and only batch in the morning one of these days.

All the plain Croissants I’ve bought To Go, from Chaumont, Proof, even Chef Alain Giraud’s Maison Giraud and others, after 1-2 hours in the car (we had to run errands, stop by some places before heading home), have never tasted as good as when we had them fresh at each of the bakeries.

Arsicault Bakery’s amazing Croissant was had just out of the oven as well (we were the 2nd customers right after they opened), and it was fabulous! :slight_smile:

So for Chaumont, since they make multiple batches a day, call ahead to time your visit to get them fresh out of the kitchen. :wink:

Chaumont Bakery
143 S Beverly Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Tel: (310) 550-5510

http://chaumontbakery.com/


#53

That was my impression for the choc chip cookie I had there once. When I ate it, I thought to myself, I bet this was REALLY good just out of the oven. And, unfortunately, it was very clear that that had been many hrs ago (although I didn’t ask to confirm).

Good sleuthing!


#54

Maybe that would explain my lackluster noon Proof experience.


#55

Not an expert,have not been to Chaumont, yet. Possibly my favorite local croissant was Maison Giraud, which I miss badly. Since this thread seems to have expanded , geographically, let me give a holler to the most amazing croissant I have had in 2017, sadly not in LA. Bobs Bakery in Los Alamos. Very, very, very good croissant, perfect crisp and laminated outer, interior tender , layered, butter heaven. I had stopped by for breakfast: amazing eggs benedict, perfect sous vide poached eggs and house made English muffins. I bought a box of pastries to take home, but thought it would be a shame not to “sample” a little nibble of the croissant with my cafe aux lait. That croissant did not make it home…


#56

Hi @ciaolette,

Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll be keeping it in mind the next time we’re driving up north past Santa Barbara. :slight_smile:

Yes, we miss Maison Giraud’s Croissants as well. We went once when they first opened up and the Croissants were phenomenal.


#57

Hi @Chowseeker1999 -

I came across this and thought of you.


#58

Great food town, Los Alamos!!


#59

Thank you for this amazing rundown! I’ve only been to Chaumont once and they were out of almond croissants.

I lived in Paris years years years ago, and my favorite breakfast was an almond croissant. In France, they make them using day old croissants and I’ve never found a place in Los Angeles that would use day old. Health laws, I was told. When I lived in Baltimore, there was a place that made using day olds, or at least it seemed! Heaven! And Chaumont looks like they use day olds, or at least they make them the traditional way.

I did take a baking class in Santa Monica that taught how to make proper almond croissants, but it’s so much work!! Must return to Chaumont!

Again, thank you for posting!


#60

Hi @TheCookie,

Wow, at first I thought this was a new creation at Chaumont, but then I noticed the “Chaumont Street”… looks like it’s 2 different stores, but very close to each other. I wonder if they’re the same owner?