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

Nice report back @moonboy403. I still haven’t made it to Mr. Holmes yet, because its initial claim to fame seemed too gimmicky. But good to know where they fall in the spectrum. Thanks. :slight_smile:

If you are on the Westside. Super Domestic Coffee in Culver City across from Sony carries Mr. Holmes which they pick up every morning including their Matcha Croissant. I agree with @moonboy403 in that it doesn’t quite hit the buttery notes that Proof or Chaumont but it is buttery and WAY better than most other Croissants in the area, but FAR.

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Thanks @Dommy! Good to know.

Proof Bakery - 12:30PM Visit


Croissant - Is this fantastic looking or what?!


High quality stuff.


Chocolate - Raspberry Cake - Rich. Moist. Sweetness is balanced with good acidity from the raspberry jam but a little too dense.


My very unscientific 2 cent after my little experiment with croissant:

Flavor: Chaumont > Tartine/Proof > Dominique Ansel > Mr. Holmes
Flakiness: Tartine > Chaumont/Proof > Mr. Holmes > Dominique Ansel
Interior Texture & Airiness: Dominique Ansel > Tartine/Proof > Chaumont > Mr. Holmes

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It’s game over for me. The fresh-out-of-the-oven croissant I had this morning at Konbi nailed every aspect of what I look for in a croissant.

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Update 3:

Proof Bakery (Revisit)


We wanted to narrow down the reasons why our experiences with Proof Bakery were so different from @J_L’s visit, in terms of Croissant happiness. So off we went to revisit and find out why.

Croissant:
Time from Oven: 2 hours, 15 minutes.

Visually beautiful, the golden brown hue was sadly the best part of this visit: The plain Croissant was OK, barely crisped, rather soft and was respectable, but not amazing. This was the earliest we had been able to make it to Proof Bakery so far, but at about 2 hours and 15 minutes since the Croissants were made, clearly they had already started to dim. But we didn’t give up!

7th Visit:

Croissant:
Time from Oven: 40 minutes.

We were determined to wake up early enough and make the drive east (thankfully no traffic in the morning on Saturdays), and we arrived bright and early. This time the Croissants had been done for only 40 minutes or so…

Crisped, flaky, airy, a good clean buttery flavor (from an American Butter), this was a great Croissant! :blush: By far the best Proof Croissant we’ve ever had. I could see why @J_L and others might like this version.

Canele:

There’s a nice caramelized exterior which gives way to a fragrant, Vanilla Custard-like center. It is one of the better Caneles we’ve had recently. :slight_smile:

Black Sesame Financier:

I was hoping to find another great Black Sesame Dessert for @paranoidgarliclover, but unfortunately this Black Sesame Financier wasn’t it. It’s not bad at all, a very good Financier, but it barely had any Black Sesame aroma or flavor compared to the best ones we’ve run into the past few years.

Grist & Toll Spelt Thumbprint:

Delicious Spelt Cookie, soft, chewy with a nice Berry Jam center. :slight_smile:

8th Visit:

Wanting to make sure our last experience wasn’t a fluke, we stopped by a few weeks later, also bright and early to make sure the Croissants were consistent.

Croissant:
Time from Oven: 45 minutes.

Flaky, airy, crisped with a pure Butter taste coming through each bite, this was a very good Croissant again. :slight_smile:

Almond Croissant:

Proof’s Almond Croissants are too sweet for my taste. Their Almond Paste variation turns the Almond Croissant into a decadent Dessert instead of something lightly sweet to start your morning.

As we’ve seen more and more on this Croissant Journey, the time from oven plays a huge factor for how wonderful a Croissant can be. I’m glad to have found a delicious “sweet spot” for when Proof’s Croissants are best (anywhere from opening to at least 45 minutes later). At 2.5 hours after opening, has resulted in softer, barely crisped Croissants, and the previous visits at a more normal lunch hour (4 - 5 hours since the oven) resulted in not so good results.

This remains Proof’s Achilles’ Heel: They only make 1 batch of Croissants in the morning and that’s it. Knowing how great the Croissants are in that time window, we’ll be glad to return and pick some up when we’re in the area early enough.

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

Poppy Cake Baking Company


We were visiting some friends of ours, and they recommended we stop by a local Bakery in their neighborhood. Walking in, Poppy Cake seemed like a charming place. Lots of baked goods piled up high, fresh out of the kitchen that morning.

It turns out Poppy Cake Baking Co. is a return home for Pastry Chef-Owner Brittainy Turnquist (Bouchon, Farmshop) and her husband and Co-Owner Chef Matthew Turnquist.

Croissant:
Time from Oven: 1 hour.

Using an American Butter, these Croissants turned out to be a surprise, lightly flaky with a slight crispness and a pleasant Butter flavor coming through each bite. :slight_smile:

Almond Croissant:

A good nuttiness and crunch, the Almond Paste balance here was much better than Proof’s version, as it was less sweet. This was a respectable Almond Croissant.

Sourdough Boule:

Compared to most loaves at our city’s top Bakeries, the ones at Poppy Cake seemed rather pale. Our friends needed some Bread for a party we were attending at their house later that day, so we picked this up. It turned out to be serviceable, with a decent Sourdough tang, but it lacked the crust and wonderful center of our favorite loaves around town.

Poppy Cake Baking Company
328 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.
Sierra Madre, CA 91024
Tel: 626-355-9000

http://poppycakebakingcompany.com/

The Manufactory - Tartine L.A.'s Market (Revisit)


After the disaster of our initial visits to Tartine L.A.'s Manufactory, we wanted to stop in again to see if they improved.

Tartine L.A.'s Manufactory setup is still as confused as ever. It was raining outside, so none of the tables and chairs outside were usable. Inside, their “Market Bar” area was totally empty - no one wanted to dine off of that limited Snacks and Wine menu:

And when we ordered our Pastries, the hostess told us “Sorry, this area is only for Market Bar patrons” (and it was totally empty with no one waiting to eat there). :roll_eyes:

When we mentioned that it was raining outside and there was nowhere to eat the Pastries, she relented saying “Go ahead.”

It’s this weird setup where clearly there’s a demand and Tartine’s original draw was for its Bakery, yet here in L.A. with massive square footage and space, they portion off… 0% of the inside dining areas to eat their Pastries or to enjoy Coffee and Teas from the Market (Bakery)? :confused: Where’s the logic in that? The Market Bar has been empty for every visit during the day.

Croissant:
Time from Oven: 1.5 hours.

Terrible. :frowning: Soft, bread-like, zero crispness. This was the worst version of the Croissant we’ve had at Tartine SF or Tartine LA to date! :nauseated_face:

Banana Cream Tart:

This was one of our favorite Desserts from Tartine SF last year, so we were hoping they improved upon the average version we had during their L.A. opening.

It tasted about the same: A good Banana flavor coming through, crumbly, sturdy crust, but the Custard center wasn’t set (it was a bit too liquidy), and there was barely a hint of the Valrhona Chocolate base that Tartine SF had in spades. :frowning:

Tartine L.A.'s Market Bakery continues to disappoint with their Pastries. We’ll be focusing on picking up their Bread Loaves if we’re in the area, but otherwise, there’s not much draw.

Tartine Manufactory
(includes Tartine Bianco, Tartine Market, Market Bar and Alameda Supper Club)
(inside ROW DTLA complex)
757 Alameda Street, Suite 160
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Tel: (213) 375-3315

Lou, The French On The Block

One of the most curiously-named eateries we’ve seen in a while, I had bookmarked this for a while due to @Ns1’s strong recommendation for their Almond Croissants. We couldn’t wait!

The first thing to note is that Lou, The French on the Block is tiny! The storefront itself (not counting the kitchen) is smaller than a standard bedroom(!).

Almond Financier:

Soft, moist with a nice Almond flavor coming through. Tasty.

Croissant:
Time from Oven: 3 hours.

While using a French Butter, their normal Croissants taste strangely “chemically” on this visit. :confused: Also with the extended time out of the oven (over 3 hours), they have no crispness and are soft and not that appealing. :frowning:

Almond Croissant:

Taking a bite…

Wow! :heart:

@Ns1 was right! Lou’s Almond Croissant is incredible! :blush: It’s crispy-crunchy, with a beautiful balanced Almond Paste that’s not overly sweet. It’s fragrant, a nice nuttiness and fantastic! :slight_smile:

2nd Visit:

Croissant:
Time from Oven: 2 hours.

This was better than our 1st visit, the chemically taste was gone, instead replaced by a simple Butter flavor coming through, but it was still a bit too soft and bready for my tastes. This is a perfect example of where all French Butters are not alike (this one just lacks the depth and flavor of Chaumont).

Almond Croissant:

SO GOOD! :heart:

Just as great as the first time we had it: Crispy, crunchy, a good nutty aromatic flavor, not overly sweet, easily Top 2 Almond Croissant in L.A.! We had to verify how this compared to our favorite soon.

Lou, The French On The Block is a surprise Almond Croissant specialist, creating some of L.A.'s best in a tiny little corner of Burbank. Thanks again @Ns1!

(Closed Sundays.)

Lou, The French On The Block
4007 W. Riverside Dr.
Burbank, CA 91505
Tel: (747) 238-8710

https://www.louthefrenchontheblock.com/

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse


Creator of the Cruffin (Croissant + Muffin hybrid), we were curious how their base Croissant might be.

Croissant:
Time from Oven: 3 hours.

Soft, bread-like with some flakiness and zero crispness, there was also barely any distinct Butter flavor coming through. :frowning:

Carrot Cake Muffin:

Much better than their Croissant, the Carrot Cake Muffin tasted like a Mini-Carrot Cake in Muffin form. A touch on the sweet side, the Ginger was a nice touch with a moist center.

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
111 S. Ave 59
Los Angeles, CA 90042
Tel: (323) 739-0473

http://www.mrholmesbakehouse.com/

Konbi

From Chefs Akira Akuto and Nick Montgomery, Konbi feels like their homage to Japanese Konbini (Convenience Stores) Sandwiches and little easy-to-eat food items (Potato Salad, etc.), but elevated. So it was surprising to hear they were offering Pastries a few weeks after opening. In hindsight, it makes sense since as a daytime restaurant offering Breakfast and Lunch, with Coffees and Teas, Pastries seem like a natural extension (here in L.A. at least).

Canele:

Hard and crusty on the outside, the inside turned out to be dryish and rather disappointing. :frowning:

Hazelnut Financier:

Dried out, but still nutty, this was terrible. :cry:

Croissant:
Time from Oven: 5 minutes.

Our first encounter with Konbi’s plain Croissant came about a couple weeks after they debuted their Pastries. Using a New Zealand Butter, we were able to sample this just minutes out of the oven.

First, notice how burnt it was (above). This led to a slight bitterness added to a relatively decent, straightforward Butter taste. It was also super greasy. :sob:

Chocolate Croissant:
Time from Oven: 5 minutes.

Their Chocolate Croissant was thankfully not burnt, and fared better. The New Zealand Butter was fine, but it was rather straightforward in flavor. Still having it arrive fresh from the oven with some melted Chocolate with the flaky Croissant showed promise.

2nd Visit:

We wanted to see what a few more weeks might do for the Pastry Chef and staff working in an extremely cramped kitchen. Their baking setup is tiny, as they usually only have enough room to bake 6 plain Croissants per batch(!).

Croissant:
Time from Oven: 1 minute.

For this 2nd visit, about 3 weeks later, the baking was improved. We arrived just as they were taking a batch out of the oven(!). These arrived literally 1 minute after being removed from the oven. :slight_smile:

First, there are few culinary pleasures in the world as great as getting fresh-baked Pastries/Breads and being able to enjoy it piping hot. The Croissant was fantastic being so fresh, radiating heat still, and it exhibited a good crisp flakiness and a fluffy interior. :slight_smile:

However, the New Zealand Butter was merely fine. It was a step below the fragrant creations of places like Arsicault Bakery and Chaumont. But if we were local, we would be more than happy to enjoy these very good Croissants. :slight_smile:

3rd Visit:

At this point, we had a good idea of what to expect with Konbi’s Croissants, however thanks to a note by @moonboy403 that Konbi had just switched to a French Butter, we had to go back and see how much of a change there might be.

Croissant:
Time from Oven: 1 minute.

Speaking with the staff, we confirmed that Konbi had indeed just switched over to Isigny Butter from France. This is phenomenal, but also interesting because Konbi basically just switched over to using the same Butter as Chaumont! (As the saying goes, if you can’t beat’ em, join’ em.) :stuck_out_tongue:

We arrived luckily as they were finishing up their 2nd batch of Croissants for the day. We got ours straight out of the oven, and the difference from our first few visits compared to today’s was like night and day:

A beautiful fragrant, deep sweet Butter flavor (something that only great French Butters have been able to impart in Croissants we’ve tried so far), it’s crisped and flaky and airy. It is outstanding! :heart:

Being very nitpicky, it still comes across as a bit more greasy than Arsicault and Chaumont and Proof, as if the Pastry Chef is being overly generous and layering in too much Butter (still).

Canele:

Giving their Canele another try, this one turned out much better than the dried out dessicated version we had earlier. It was fine, but nowhere near as good as Proof’s, nor Republique’s.

4th Visit:

The most important thing is consistency, so we wanted to see how consistent this new phenomenal flavor would be.

Hazelnut Financier:

This 2nd time trying their Hazelnut Financier was also much better than the 1st time (which was dried out). It had a good nutty flavor that only Hazelnut can impart, but as a Financier? It was pretty average.

Croissant:
Time from Oven: 30 minutes.

We lucked out in that for this visit, there was one plain Croissant unsold from the morning batch. However it had been out for 30 minutes (which in terms of almost every other Bakery in L.A. is a stellar “fresh time window” to be able to enjoy a Croissant), but it was important to see how Konbi’s would hold up when not enjoyed fresh out of the oven.

It was room temperature / cold by now, but still had good crispness and flakiness. However the greatest joy and spark from the previous Croissant with Isigny French Butter fresh out of the oven was gone (piping hot), and in this light, the Croissant was good and had a nice deep French Buttery taste, slightly sweet even, but it was greasy and slightly charred on one edge (uneven baking).

We wanted to see how this taste compared with Chaumont, so we immediately hopped in the car and drove over to Beverly Hills to do a bang x bang with our favorite:

Chaumont Bakery


Croissant:
Time from Oven: 1 hour.

I verified with the staff that Chaumont indeed is still using their Isigny Sainte-Mère French Butter. Even though this was out of the oven for 1 hour, taking a bite…

The Isigny Sainte-Mère Butter is more savory-sweet than Konbi’s. The flavor is more balanced, whereas Konbi’s (in light of this bite) was more sweet (not sugary, but naturally sweeter).

Whatever the case, there is a far more crispy-flaky fantastic texture and flavor compared to Konbi’s cold version. The French Butter sings a bit more and it’s less greasy than Konbi’s. This is phenomenal even when it’s not minutes out of the oven! :heart:

Almond Croissant:

Taking a bite of Chaumont’s Almond Croissant, there’s a more rounded flavor, probably with the more distinct Isigny Sainte-Mère Butter compared to Lou’s. It’s not overly sweet, there’s a nice slight crunch and beautiful Almond filling. Outstanding! :heart:

But Lou’s is very close, and if travel is a concern, then whichever one is closer for you would be a great choice regardless.

Tarte Tropezienne:

A Brioche-like top and bottom are filled with a light, airy Pastry Cream. Not as cloud-like as a Choux à la Crème (Cream Puff), it was still quite enjoyable, but we’d probably seek out the classic Cream Puff over this offering. :slight_smile:

Konbi (Revisit)


6th Visit:

For consistency and to make extra sure we were discerning the flavors enough, we headed back to Konbi for our 6th visit.

Croissant:
Time from Oven: 35 minutes.

On a weekday, there’s more of a chance you’re able to actually get a plain Croissant from Konbi, and on this 6th visit, there were still a couple Croissants left from the final batch of the day.

With this Croissant being out of the oven for 35 minutes (still a great window for most of the best Bakeries around town and in SF), the flavor was good. There was a nice crispness and airiness still. But removing the unrealistic, fresh-out-of-the-oven experience, the final taste was still “great” but not “amazing.”

When cooled, Konbi’s Croissant is greasier than Arsicault, Chaumont and Maison Giraud (RIP). We brought along a dear friend who’s tried Croissants in Paris and at the late Anisette (Santa Monica), and she confirmed that the flavors were not as good.

But this is being nitpicky on purpose, for discerning our favorite Croissants locally. :wink: Ultimately, Konbi makes a great plain Croissant with the switch to Isigny Butter. If you’re lucky enough to show up when they’re pulling a batch out of the oven, it is fantastic and one of the best morning tastes worth experiencing. :slight_smile:

However, it should be noted Konbi has limited space: They only make 6(!) plain Croissants per batch. And depending on the day, they’ll make only 2 batches (or 3 at the most). Given how limited the quantities are, it’s a bit unrealistic for many to make the rush over to the restaurant early enough to buy a Croissant before it sells out. However, if you’re around, don’t miss out.

Konbi
1463 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

https://konbila.com/

Chaumont Bakery (Revisit)

12th Visit:

We had to go back to Chaumont again for another bang x bang immediately after Konbi a 2nd time, to make sure the flavors were really what we were tasting (and we brought along our Croissant loving friend who had just tried Konbi).

Croissant:
Time from Oven: 45 minutes.

Crisp, shattering outside with a more buttery, balanced, savory-sweet flavor coming through. So good! :heart:

In comparing Konbi’s cooled Croissant (35 minutes out of the oven) vs. Chaumont’s cooled Croissant (45 minutes out of the oven), we all felt Chaumont had a better balance of flavors and was less greasy.

Almond Croissant:

Ridiculous. :heart: Our favorite Almond Croissant in town with the balanced Almond flavors shining through in every bite without being overly sweet. :slight_smile:

When looking at how most people are able to consume Croissants, it’s safe to say 99%+ of them are not piping hot out of the oven. It’s just not realistic or fair to make that comparison to what the vast majority of people are able to partake of. However, we were lucky enough to have experienced a piping hot, fresh out of the oven Croissant at Arsicault, and it was superior to Konbi.

We also were lucky enough to have a Croissant fresh out of the oven at Chaumont once, and that, too was better than Konbi. Then, when looking at a more realistic state of Croissant (not piping hot) for most people, Maison Giraud, Arsicault, Proof (at 45 minutes) and Chaumont were more enjoyable for us. All of them were less greasy than Konbi, and while Konbi had a great French Butter flavor, when cooled, it didn’t hold up as well as the French Butter flavor at Maison Giraud, or the combination flavor at Arsicault, and not as enjoyable as Chaumont, which manages to deliver the best combination of French Butter flavor and crisp-flaky-airy awesomeness.

Chaumont Bakery also has the advantage of making batches throughout the day. In our 12+ visits (and confirmed with the staff), they are always making batches of Croissants every 1 - 2 hours, so you’re never stuck with long-sitting Croissants like many other Bakeries (that only make 1 or 2 batches in the morning only). But ultimately, go to where you’re able to enjoy Croissants early enough in the day: A Croissant at Proof just when they open is likely to be more enjoyable than an Arsicault Croissant 2 hours out of the oven.

Overall we had a great time exploring more Croissants (and Almond Croissants) around the city. Thanks again @Ns1 @J_L @moonboy403 and others for the recommendations. :slight_smile:

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

http://chaumontbakery.com/

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I so admire your tenacity, @Chowseeker1999! Your multiple visits and write-ups are so detailed…and thanks to you, I (and my chowpups) are avid Chaumont fans.
@Ns1 Is Lou located in the former Bake It Again, Sam? Nice to see something good has come from that old space.

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Yes it appears to be the same place. I actually never even knew it by that name. That particular intersection is very revitalized now, anchored by Chipotle and Jinya.

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If there is a shortage of butter in LA, we shall blame @Chowseeker1999 :rofl:

Excellent work!

I am curious if the older croissants can be rewarmed in the oven for 2-3 minutes?

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@A5KOBE I’ve found it works well to reheat Chaumont croissants in the oven the next day. When I go, I buy at half a dozen…they’re all gone by the next day.

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Thanks @attran99. :slight_smile: So glad you and the family enjoy Chaumont!

Thanks @A5KOBE. I haven’t had success, whenever I tried to put them in an oven (or toaster oven) for even a few seconds, the outer shell starts to burn. :frowning:

But then I just saw @attran99’s post. @attran99 what temperature setting do you use and for how long? Thank you!

I wouldn’t be surprised if the guys from Konbi call it quits in the next month, as they’ve already made enough money to retire from chowseeker’s business alone. :smiley:

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I usually just warm it for 2-3mins at the std 350F

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We shall blame @attran99 as well if there is a butter shortage. :rofl:

I may have to “research” this reheating in the name of science!

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@Chowseeker1999 I’ve run my toaster oven set to reheat at 300 degrees for no longer than 5 minutes. Crisp exterior and super soft inside.
@A5KOBE LOL Chaumont refills their croissants throughout the day…and I go about once a quarter to get my fill of croissants. Helps me stay away from cheap croissants in the meantime. :wink:

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Hey CS, glad you were finally able to check out Lou’s. If you ever make it back there, I can also recommend their eclairs and tarts. I like the chocolate/almond croissant as well but you may not…

Re: Proof, I myself have only gotten fresh croissants from them once and it was indeed glorious, but the rest were just on par. Have you had their sandwiches? Poor QPR for sure but damn are they good.

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Thanks @Ns1 again for the amazing rec! Lou’s Almond Croissants are amazing, and pretty much 1A to Chaumont’s 1. Some of the best in the city. :blush:

I’ll be sure to try their eclairs next time.

Proof Sandwiches: Yes! I love them, but definitely not that good for QPR (small portions), but tasty. Any favorite flavors to order? Thanks.

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Re: Proof

I’m a sucker for that ham/cornichon one. So simple yet so addictive.

Re: Lou

Naturally, today was the first “miss” I’ve had from them re: Almond Croissant. You can see that it’s not nearly as brown as usual. Edges were still amazing though.

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Back in the neighborhood and I’ve tried Lou on The Block a couple of times now. @Ns1 and @Chowseeker1999, I was pretty impressed by their butter croissant. There was still some crispness when I bit into it. Chaumont is still king in my book, but Lou is a great alternative for folks who live in the Valley and don’t want to trek down to Beverly Hills.
Lou’s quiche lunch special is pretty fantastic. It’s a hefty piece of quiche laden with comté cheese, spinach, tomatoes, and pecorino cheese. Comes with a nice side salad with a house made Dijon vinaigrette. For $11, it may not be cheap, but it’s very large portion of a very good quiche (1/6 of a 10 or 12 inch tart pan).
I tried the financiers, but found the almond one rather artificial or chemical-tasting. Not sure what happened there, but the raspberry one was delightful.

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