I've known for years that Tartine makes great croissants, and I've eaten and given many to the croissant lovers in my life. But until this week, I'd never noticed just how much better Tartine's croissants are than the other offerings in San Francisco. Hit with an intense craving for buttery flakiness, I went to the three most obvious croissant choices:
Bay Breads. I walked into both the Polk and Fillmore branches, and I did not even bother buying a croissant at either. The top was obviously no longer flakey, it looked deflated and slightly moist. It might have been a bad day or bad timing, but two days in a row at two different branches? Disappointing.
ACME in the Ferry Building. Not bad, but not great. Smaller than I remember. Actually, a lot of their bread looks smaller than I remember, and maybe more expensive too. Is this a recent change?
Tartine. Wowsers. The price was a little higher, but we're talking under a dollar difference for a much bigger croissant. My only issue ever with Tartine croissants is that I would prefer a little less blackening on the outside, but it's a tiny price to pay for how delicious 99.9% of the croissant is. Shatteringly crisp, the crust seems to be made of a thousand layers of pastry crust. It pulls apart the way a croissant should, not in chunks but in long coils of both crust and bread. The most distinct flavor is that of fresh butter, quickly followed by a bready yeastiness and an "oveny" burnt essence. I swear, this croissant has depth of flavor. The center of the croissant was still warm when I got to it, a buttery, layered, slightly toothsome contrast to the crackly exterior. Truly the best croissant experience I've had in awhile.
So, hounds, hie thee to Tartine for a croissant, and also post your favorite croissants that I'm missing!
600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111
2325 Pine St, San Francisco, CA 94115