Patisserie Florentine

10 S Dean StEnglewood, NJ 07631 • (201) 408-4890 • patisserieflorentine.com

Engle-fucking-wood Cliffs?! Are you kidding me?! How is this place in Englewood Cliffs? Scratch that- WHY is this place in Englewood Cliffs? Their Banana, Nutella, almond croissant is such a baller it needs to be playing on a much bigger court, like Manhattan.

This Ultimate of a pastry is messier than a Sean Spicer press conference, but far more enjoyable. Oozing in all directions with a miraculously well balanced treat that doesn’t overdo it, despite the potential to do so looming large.

Other players in the baked game are the regular almond croissants, which are great, and less messy than their banana-Nutella siblings, but they are also less novel. Of the muffins, the granola is the one to get, followed by the orange. But I say skip the blueberry. It was surprisingly the weakest of the lot.

Even the egg dishes are nothing to overlook as the eggs benny proves to be a savory powerhouse in its own right. But be sure to ask them to make the eggs runny, because they have a tendency to overcook them a touch. Tisk, tisk.

Where Florentine fails miserably, however, is with their service. It is god awful. So bad in fact that I feel a moral imperative to dock them a knife. It’s as if the entire wait staff is simultaneously starting their first day on the job. Every table in the joint is yelling at them. Complaining. “No silverware” over here. “No one has taken my order yet” over there. They are slow, forgetful and worst of all, inept. So much so that the last time I visited I asked for three of the Banana Nutella Almond croissants to go and they gave me three plain old almond.

So if you are the owner or the manager and you are reading this, please start over with the staff, because eventually people will grow tired of their shit, regardless of how great the food is. I know I am.

Croissant Gourmet

120 E Morse BlvdWinter Park, FL 32789 • (407) 622-7753

Any place called Croissant Gourmet is either overstating their offering to lure suckers in (like me), or they are so unbelievably confident in their product that they didn’t spend more than five minutes thinking up a name for their bakery. Well, one bite in and I can assure you the reason is the latter, because their almond croissants are the stuff upon which empires are built. A flaky, almond, crescent-shaped masterpiece that would bring tears to Napoleon’s eyes.

Speaking of empires, that’s the other thing I love about this place. It isn’t one. And sadly that’s what 80% of Park Avenue has become, an outdoor shopping mall filled with chain store empires. Long gone are the charms of mom ‘n pops and boutiques. So please give the few stragglers all the love you can. Binge mightily on their croissants and perhaps one day that demand will help transform Park Ave. back into its glory of yore.

A word of caution: don’t eat too many croissants, not just for health reasons, but so that Croissant Gourmet doesn’t blow up and turn into a chain itself, because it would defeat the purpose.

Sono Baking Company

44 Church LnWestport, CT 06880 • (203) 557-8626 • sonobaking.com

I can’t say I looooove Sono Bakery, but they definitely have far better croissants than Isabella et Vincent which everyone seems to tout. Guess I’m just spoiled by the ones I used to get at La Tulipe in Mt. Kisco, NY where I used to live. Although, to be fair, that was pretty stiff competition, because those croissants were world-class. Then again, to be fair in the other direction, Patisserie Florentine in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, and even the friggin’ Croissant Gourmet (terrible name) in Winter Park, FL both have much superior croissants, so I’m not sure what the problem is here in Westport, a town that has no shortage of amazing restaurants.

But before I get off on a rant (TM Dennis Miller), Sono has lots of merits. The first being that it’s more than just a bakery, offering a full menu of made-to-order breakfast and brunch options. Plus, the seating area and vibe inside is pretty cool, granted the parking situation outside is not. No parking lot and most of the street parking is off limits for one reason or another, making it feel more reminiscent of Manhattan than Westport. So personally, I recommend walking or biking if you’re close enough, it’ll help burn off what you’re about to eat.

And now for the BIGGEST reason to come here, two words; Monkey Bread. Yes, the Monkey Bread, or more like “money bread” steals the show. Dense and dripping with frosting. It’s worth a parking ticket, it’s so damn sintastic. I also dig their cranberry zucchini muffin for a less sweet option that’s nice and moist and can help balance things out if you go splitsies with someone on one of the sweeter options. #bestofbothworlds

Isabelle et Vincent

1903 Post RdFairfield, CT 06824 • (203) 292-8022 • isabelleetvincent.com

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I’m not sure what people are smoking, handing out stars to this place like it’s the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Maybe it’s the baguettes? I mean they are good, but not sure they’re worth smoking. What I am sure of is that the rest of the stuff isn’t even worth eating. The croissants are doughy, not flaky. The chocolate isn’t even partially melted in the chocolate croissant and the marzipan in the almond croissant tastes like actual paste. Oh, and the pain raisin doesn’t even hold up to an Au Bon Pain.

Yes, I know the chef is French, but it’s not like being French automatically makes you a good baker anymore than being American makes you automatically shitty at electing presidents. So my advice, for much better croissants just up the road, I definitely recommend SONO Baking Company over this place. Their croissants aren’t amazing either, but they are far superior to Isabelle’s. That said, if you truly want to taste the croissant mastery of a French baker head to La Tulipe in Mt. Kisco where I used to live (wistful sigh). Their croissants are so good we almost didn’t move.

My mother always told me to try to find something nice in everything though, so I will say that there is a semi decent vanilla bean and chocolate pastry amongst the losers and shockingly enough, they do have some winners, their wide selection of baguettes, which I mentioned above. We tried the parmesan and thyme and it is money. Not sure I’d ever make a special trip just for that, but it’s the only thing I will ever buy there if I return.

2 teeth

Maison Kayser

921 Broadway New York, NY 10010(212) 979-1600 maisonkayserusa.com

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I’m not sure what it is about this chain, but I really want to like it more than I do. And I’ve tried. I really have. I’ve eaten there for breakfast once, lunch twice, even from their prepared foods and bakery. But everything falls just short for me.

Worse still is that it’s sort of like a lesser version of it’s fellow Parisian transplant next door neighbor, Le Pain Quotidien, only with white tiles instead of wood, waiters dressed like mimes (without the face paint) and no communal tables, which I’ll file under the plus column. So how they’ve managed to expand as they have is beyond me.

Of all the things I’ve had there, there are only two worth ordering. The nicoise salad holds its own pretty nicely and the pre-prepared Iberico sandwich with manchego, Iberico ham, mission figs and mustard is pretty solid as far as pre-made sammies go. MUCH better than the tragically recommended saucisson (Le Rosette). Not sure what the peeps over at Thrillist were smoking when they wrote up that one, but I can assure it was potent and laced. It’s basically cured sausage and cornichon on a baguette with a little butter. Nothing more. And I mean nothing. It’s almost like something you would throw together in a post-apocalyptic fallout shelter because these ingredients were all you had standing between you and starvation. And the pre-made Israeli couscous and wheat berry salads aren’t much better, lacking more flavor than melba toast. The plain kind. Without anything on it.

In the middle of the road, their truffled egg and asparagus tartine for breaky/brunch is neither here nor there nor anything I would ever order again… and neither is the fig, honey and goat cheese tartine on the lunch menu, because not only was it a big snore, it’s also no longer on the menu. Guess I wasn’t the only one. And that’s my issue with MK as a whole, serving up food you would never even think twice about again in your life, unless you had a cantankerous food blog where you reviewed restaurants and wanted to write a warning to people that the food sounds much better than it is. Wow, that was meta.

2 teeth

L’anjou Patisserie Francaise

130 N Bedford Rd. Mount Kisco, NY 10549 • (914) 242-4929lanjoupatisserie.com

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Once again La Tulipe was closed, so once again I found myself hunter-gathering a back up plan for our Sunday morning family croissant ritual. Having already tried Jean-Jacques in Pleasantville and Susan Lawerance in Chappaqua, Anjou was the last bastion of hope for a go-to alternative according to the wisdom of Chapp Moms.

And while Anjou was certainly the best of the attempts to find said alternate, I believe it’s best at this point if we just do the unthinkable and go croissantless for a week or two until La Tulipe reopens. Brutal, I know. First-World problems are the worst.

So why did Anjou come up short? Well, right out of the gate one has to take marks off for not serving things freshly baked. I got there as soon as they opened and the croissants were already as cold as the weather outside. Maybe I could forgive him if he was busy baking tons of other morning goodies, but the place is tiny and there were no other freshly baked excuses to be found.

My other major complaint is texture. The croissants are way too doughy. This is blasphemy as far as I’m concerned. If you can’t make a croissant flaky, you just shouldn’t be offering croissants. Consider yourselves on notice Jean and Susan. That’s right. I’m getting’ real up in this bitch.

But before I go too deep down this rabbit hole of criticism, I do have to give Anjou props for flavor. Surprisingly I found the chocolate within the chocolate croissants to be excellent. Perhaps even better than in Tulipe’s. Just not as ooey-gooey because they weren’t warm.

And while the marzipan in the almond croissants was also good in terms of flavor, it was nowhere near as good as at La Tulipe, which is a tall order considering La Tulipe’s almond croissant is an Ultimate.

2 teeth

Anderson Bakery

50 Post St. San Francisco, CA 94108(415) 262-0079andersenbakery.com

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Not sure what standards people are judging these croissants by on Yelp, but it’s clearly a highly delusional one. The almond croissants are WAY too bready. Like something you’d find at virtually any chain in the airport. This doesn’t even make my top 100. Hell, Au Bon Pain is better!

In fact, I don’t even live in a major city and my local bakery makes an almond croissant that would make Andersen himself cry. Granted, it’s also one of the best croissants I’ve ever had, period, including Paris and New York, but enough about better places that are too far away to do you any good.

My closer recommendation, walk around the corner to Bread & Cocoa. It’s the real deal.

2 teeth

Jean-Jacques

468 Bedford Rd. Pleasantville, NY 10570(914) 747-8191jean-jacques.com
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Once a year La Tulipe closes for a couple of weeks for their summer vacation, and when they do, it’s always a very dark time in the Ferocious Foodie household. But, rather than suffer the affliction of going croissant-less for two weeks (first-world problems are the worst), this year we decided to try a highly recommended alternative, Jean Jacques.Well, Fu Ku, I always appreciate the tips, but I’m afraid I can’t go there with you. Jacques is no La Tulipe. In fact, I think I’d rather eat a cold, La Tulipe croissant off of the floor than one of Jacques, fresh out of the oven. Sure it’s better than Susan Lawrence’s croissants, but that’s like bragging that you can outrun a two year old.

From the moment you enter the Jacques bakery you know you’re in trouble as nothing about the place gives you confidence in what you are about to put in your mouth. It feels like the cheap, typical bakery you go to for cookies when you’re the one who drew the short straw and has to bring dessert to a bris. All three croissants, the chocolate, almond and plain were nothing better than you’d find at an Au Bon Pain, which is actually pretty great for a chain, so in all fairness, if Jacques is farther from your house than La Tulipe or an Au Bon Pain, than I say don’t even bother.

2 teeth

 

 

The Ultimate Croissant

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City Bakery – New York, NY – Pretzel

Way before the cronut ever stepped onto the scene, there was this baby (pictured). The original croissant hybrid. Only instead of going sweet, they went savory. And I have to say they “nailed it!” (Read with a high-pitched lilt). The saltiness interacts with the butteriness in a way not unlike sea salt does with chocolate or caramel- and in that alchemy of decadence, all ships rise.

La Tulipe – Mount Kisco, NY – Almond

While all of their croissants are excellent, the Almond reigns supreme. Get there right at 7:30am (Monday-Saturday) or 8:00am on Sundays just as they come out of the oven, and then race home to eat it while they’re still warm- the almond paste still liquefied. The dusted confectioners sugar still settling. It’s like eating a warm hug from a hundred puppies.

Petrossian New York, NY – Plain

The buttery/flakey quotient of this plain and simple croissant simply can’t be beat. Like an explosion of pop rocks in your mouth, the flakes will seek out your taste buds like guided missiles, swooning every last one of them. Also, one other thing that is truly impressive about these croissants versus the others is that they are the only ones that travel well. The others won’t last more than hour or two before their magnificence starts to wane. These are more like the Energizer Bunny.

La Tulipe Desserts

455 Lexington Ave. Mount Kisco, NY 10549(914) 242-4555latulipedesserts.com

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I find it shocking that people can give this place 1 star on Yelp based on a myopic sampling of macaroons (hence why I left Yelp). I defy anyone to find any bakery on the planet that does EVERYTHING with perfection.

That said, La Tulipe does a lot VERY well. So let’s start with what rocks… First, they have the best almond croissant I’ve ever had in my life. And yes, I’ve been to Paris. Even their plain croissant is in my top 3. The chocolate croissant ain’t too shabby either. In fact, let’s just say they’ve got the entire croissant family covered.

But croissants are just the tip of this delicious iceberg. Most of their cakes are excellent too. For example, their chocolate bomb cake IS the bomb. Beautiful inside and out. Probably the best I’ve ever had as well.

Their gelato is excellent- I recommend pistachio and chocolate and skipping every other game in town if you want truly serious ice cream.

Most of their muffins are VERY good.

And as for their macaroons, I’ve had about 6 different flavors from them and I have to say only about 2 were great. The rest just “eh.” But 1 star? Seriously? I mean it’s not like Bouchon is batting 100o either. But as long as we are pointing out the nits, there are a couple of others. Skip the carrot cake- granted they don’t usually make it, but if you commission one for a party, think twice. It will look pretty, but the taste is just okay. Also, the staff is a bit hit and miss. Not particularly warm and not particularly good at remembering your order, unfortunately. Although, the chef himself is very nice.

So, to set the record straight, let’s just recalibrate La Tulipe in terms of their competition… They blow Lulu’s in Scarsdale out of the water and the only other bakery in Westchester that has anything as transcendent as their croissants would be Sherri B’s in Chappaqua, with brownies so good you’d swear they were laced with something other than butter.

5 teeth