Well, this past week, I finally made my way down to Patisserie Claude for the very first time. I happened to be in the nabe and figured I should give it a try instead of returning the following day at an earlier time as planned. It was 5PM when I arrived (yup, I knew it was late) and there was the infamous Claude SMILING! He was happily chatting with a couple sitting at one of his quaint tables. I said a kind hello and proceeded into the store. He looked away from me and continued chatting with them until I arrived at the counter. I politely asked him whether there were any croissants at this late hour and he pleasantly responded with an apology b/c there were none left. I smiled, thanked him and told him I would return the following day as planned. He uttered a kind farewell. I sadly headed back uptown.
Sure enough, the following day, I returned with a friend as we had planned on our vacation day from the office. We made it down by noon (too late for the chocolate ones) and little Claude was not behind the counter. Instead, there was a lady in the shop who handed us our 4 croissants. I could barely make it out of the store and, with full excitement, I took my first bite.
Hmmmm... geez... I gotta calm down b/c I can't taste this... I'm just not feeling this. What's wrong with me? I am still amazed at our reaction to them. They were definitely soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside but I think we found them to be a bit heavy than we would have hoped. But, the more interesting realization was that they didn't taste buttery nor were they light, flaky and multi-layered at all.
We took the remaining ones homes and later nuked them to see if they were better warm. We also warmed another one in the oven. We caught a bit of the butter then but we still weren't feeling them.
Having never been to France, I feel very ignorant about my reaction to these great croissants. Are these truly great and I don't know better? So many chowhound experts have sang their praises. Is it because they are soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside? What makes them great?
Anyway, my favorite croissants in Manhattan are, by far, still at La Baguette Shop on University between 12th and 13th. These are buttery, warm, flaky, light and have dozens of layers. Maybe these are too greasy to those who know better. I hate grease and do not find these greasy but I just don't know. Anyway, they have mini ones, other flavors and are baking them all day. Chances are you'll walk out with a hot one even as late as 5pm. It's also a cute shop for sandwiches.
I haven't been to this shop in a couple of years but I will need to return within the next few weeks. Does anyone with a knowledge of croissants have any opinions on La Baguette Shop? I've only seen a post or two from way back. I will give Claude another try in the future for other items.