Searching for the perfect croissant, finding chocolate

bbbsmall.JPGI decided to take a day off from work last week, just because. So what do I do with my day? After sleeping in, eat of course. I have been having croissant cravings lately, so I did some research on Yelp for good bakeries in the city and printed out my map, planning to hit up as many as I could in one day. Well, the best laid plans…

I took the bus from Hayes Valley to Pacific Heights. I have never been to Pacific Heights and didn’t even realize that was where I was going (but I am a valley girl, remember? so I have that excuse). But that is the great thing about hunting down good food: you’ll never know where you’ll end up.

First stop was Boulangerie Bay Bread. I walked in and found the bakery that I have been looking for: cases full of pastries and walls lined with breads. I had a rare moment of self restraint and bought just a single croissant. My friend, on the other hand, bought bags of food, including croissant bread pudding. While drooling over the pastry case, I recognized a very delicious and familiar-looking quiche. I asked about it and found out that one of my favorite cafes, Cafe du Soleil, is another Bay Bread establishment. Turns out, they have locations all over the city, all different, but all serving the same great breads.

This location at the corner of Fillmore and Pine, and they just bake and sell bread here. No coffee or a place to sit, so we asked where to get good coffee in the neighborhood. One of the guys working there mentioned the magic words: Blue Bottle Coffee. And it gets better. He said that there was this place that specialized in chocolate, but they served Blue Bottle coffee as well. He barely got the words out of his mouth before we were running around the corner.

chocolate.JPGI walked into Bittersweet, and my croissant crusade took a back seat to my addiction to chocolate. This place had the chocolate bar selection of Fog City downtown, plus the whole counter of chocolate truffles, cakes, and other desserts, PLUS a full hot chocolate menu. Oh, and they had Blue Bottle Coffee. I planned on just getting some espresso to eat with my croissant, but how could I pass up hot chocolate? And while I was there, I really should get the little chocolate cinnamon cake that was recommended to me.

So finally I sat down with my chocolate cake and bittersweet hot chocolate to go with my dainty croissant. And of course I had to nibble on my friend’s croissant bread pudding. Decadent doesn’t even begin to describe how I was feeling.

Here I was, sitting in a sunny window in San Francisco, munching on two of my indulgences…on a workday! Oh yeah, so I guess I should mention the croissant: it was flaky, crispy, buttery, and just a tad on the greasy side. Everything you want in a croissant.

croissant.JPGI rolled out of Bittersweet determined to continue my quest. I quickly spotted my next target across the street: Patisserie Delanghe. This place was everything that Boulangerie Bay Bread wasn’t. The boulangerie was painted French blue with a pretty awning…just like Hollywood would create. Passisterie Delanghe, at the corner of Fillmore and Bush, had a dirty yellow awning and paint chipping off of the signs in the windows. I walked to see the ovens and work counters spread out in one big room, with a few cases set up in front displaying pastries. I ordered my croissant, and since I was there, a little chocolate cup filled with crème and fruit. After the richness of the chocolate, the little bright hit of tropical fruits was a nice palette cleanser before I dove into croissant #2.

DSC03412.JPGThis croissant was bigger and fluffier than the first, less buttery, but still with a really nice flavor. If I found myself half way between Bush and Pine, I would have a hard time deciding which direction to go for my croissant fix. I think it would depend on my mood.

At this point, my friend offered to drive me back to San Jose, and since I could barely move, I took him up on his offer. And so my hunt ended. But just for now. I will continue. I still have many more bakeries on my list.

Tonight I will be stopping by Riga for what are supposed to be the best croissants in San Jose. I went there last week after work, but they were already out. So I had to console myself with the most amazing and huge palmier of my life. The owner said to just call next time and he would hold some for me. And so there are two giant croissants waiting for me right now.

6 Comments so far

  1. anna (unregistered) on June 21st, 2006 @ 2:07 pm

    You have to try Brioche cafe on Columbus- not a lot of ambiance but yummy chocolate croissant!

  2. Lauren (unregistered) on June 21st, 2006 @ 2:29 pm

    It is on my list–I just didn’t get to it! Also on my list are Crepe O Chocolat and Tartine.

  3. Pete (unregistered) on June 21st, 2006 @ 4:28 pm

    If you go back to Patisserie Delanghe (and you eat meat), you must try the sausage roll. But they either don’t make them every day, or they run out really early sometimes.

  4. Ja (unregistered) on June 23rd, 2006 @ 3:09 am

    ACME Bakery makes pretty lovely croissants and pain au chocolat as well… Now we are not in LA but if you ever go, Le Pain Quotidien is awesome. They are Belgian, and the pastries and good food are overwhelming!

  5. Lauren (unregistered) on June 23rd, 2006 @ 1:30 pm

    While croissants are my first love, I keep getting distracted by other amazing food: palmiers, pain au chocolat, chocolate cake, croissant bread pudding. I think I could do a whole new search just for the perfect pain au chocolat.

    Oh, and an update on my San Jose croissant at Riga: I stopped in Wednesday evening, and the owner had my two croissants waiting for me. While I was there, and because I knew I would be seeing some people who hadn’t had dinner yet, I also picked up an apple turnover and another palmier. So that’s pretty much what I had for dinner that night. The croissant was pretty good, but starting to get dried out by 6:30PM. The apple turnover had a forgettable filling, but the pastry was AMAZING. I fell in love with it. So I will be back to Riga, but I’ll probably go to get their turnovers and palmiers since they are better than the croissants.

  6. anna (unregistered) on June 23rd, 2006 @ 2:33 pm

    Tartine: it’s just too rich for me. I had a ham & cheese croissant sandwich once and got me & my sister a bit sick (it was so rich). So, I think brioche bakery is better, as the richness is in sync with the quality of chocolate, and also not “death by butter.” I think butter is kind of a cheap shot in bakery speak too, as it’s something that everyoen loves, and if you just put butter in it, you will have loyal customers. SJ sister comment, on Riga, after buying a cake there too, was “ho hum.”

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