Coincidentally, prior to our sudden trip up to San Francisco, we had stopped by Chaumont.
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.
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.
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.
The first thing that struck us as odd was that the Croissant was burnt(!). 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.
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!
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!
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!
One of the best offerings from any bakery we’ve been to in the past few years!
So overall, Tartine’s famous Croissant was a huge disappointment, but our visit was redeemed with the amazing Banana Cream Tart.
600 Guerrero St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Tel: (415) 487-2600
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.
Walking in, it’s a humble neighborhood Bakery, a small little shop, and there’s a nice homey feel to it.
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.
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.!
I love Almond Croissants, so we had to order one of these as well. Sadly (as you can see from the pics), the Almond Croissants were burnt.
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.
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. 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. 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.
Arsicault Bakery is a stunner, and they definitely have made our favorite Croissants in San Francisco so far! Definitely worth a visit (thanks again @ipsedixit).
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…
Visually, Arsicault’s is the prettier of the two, but taking a bite… ah that amazing, deep, moving French Butter taste comes pouring through.
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.
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.
And then the Almond Croissant. Ah! Chaumont’s is so good! 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.
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!
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”.
143 S Beverly Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Tel: (310) 550-5510