The comparative series are a set of reviews I'll be publishing from time to time. I'll be ordering the same item from three to five different places for a constructive comparison... Let's enjoy breakfast and eat some croissants!
I tried five places and came up with one verdict. This was the first time that grades were not even needed. The winner was obvious from start to finish and by far on all fronts. The others should reconsider their recipes and fast! Baking a croissant is not as simple as one may think... A croissant should be rich, buttery, flaky, crispy, flavorful, enjoyable… not chewy and not bready...
I placed the orders and as soon as I received the deliveries, I knew that it was going to be a special review. Each one of the five pastry shops or bakeries has different packaging which clearly shows the level of attention put into the products. Let's see what's inside the bags or boxes.
First impression: Neo's croissant comes in a box while the others come in paper bags... Le Grenier a Pain, Tartine Bakery and Gustav...
Prices: all the same.
Presentation and Packaging:
- Le Grenier a Pain: the croissants are individually wrapped, presented in a bag with a small booklet about the bakery's delivery options. (1st place)
- Tartine Bakery: a white bag includes individually wrapped croissants, presented in the branded bag. (2nd place)
- Neo: a carton box, nothing else, four croissants inside. I like the box idea but using a paper bag inside would have been a welcome touch. (3rd place)
- Biscuit: like a small unprofessional "patisserie de quartier", a paper bag, unwrapped croissants, smaller than those from the other bakeries, and the receipt printed on a manual machine village grocery shops use. (4th place)
- Gustav: paper bag with the croissants wrapped individually inside. (5th place)
The Zaatar Croissant: Neo wins.
- Le Grenier a Pain: a good looking croissant, decorated with light green Zaatar and sesame seeds. A light crunch but a chewy inner. Not enough butter... It's more of a Lebanese-style croissant/or zaatar bread sandwich. (3rd place)
- Tartine Bakery: it doesn't look as good as that of Le Grenier but this croissant surely tastes better. Airy, fresh, flaky, light and the Zaatar itself is tasty. (2nd place)
- Gustav: Zaatar out of stock.
- Biscuit: smaller than all the others. Lightly flaky, heavily bready, intense Zaatar but not a croissant I'd crave. (4th place)
- Neo: biscuity and flaky, airy and light, feels like a gourmet croissant with no Zaatar to decorate it but only sesame. (1st place)
The Cheese Croissant: Neo Wins.
- Le Grenier a Pain: thick, big and better looking than the others. Eating it will make you change your mind. Bread, lots of bread, not flaky and not buttery with a faintly bitter taste from the cheese. (4th place)
- Tartine Bakery: better looking than the others, the cheese used on top and inside is not melted. A tasty cheese "sandwich". (3rd place)
- Gustav: a light croissant, airy inside out, not too crispy and feels fresh. Not bad at all. (2nd place)
- Neo: amazing! Wow! It's very good, even before rating the three other choices. (1st place)
- Biscuit: bad! Loaded cheese sandwich that's heavier than a donut. No freshness, no airiness, and no life! (5th place)
The Plain Croissant: Neo Wins.
- Le Grenier a Pain: bread all the way. A massacre to the croissant. (4th place)
- Tartine Bakery: light and airy. Not as good as I expect a croissant to be but good enough. (2nd place)
- Gustav: bread ready to be spread with Labneh. (3rd place)
- Neo: bravo, bravo, bravo! Tasty, full of aromas and flavors, crispy, flaky and airy. Buttery inside out! (1st place)
- Biscuit: typical Lebanese croissant of the sixties... bread! (5th place)
The Chocolate Croissant: Neo Wins.
- Le Grenier a Pain: it looks great but it's far from being a croissant. Extremely chewy tasteless bread! Definitely not recommended. (5th place)
- Tartine Bakery: three fingers of chocolate inside an average commercial pain au chocolat. (3rd place)
- Gustav: better than the first two, good quality chocolate but nothing I'd crave for next time. (2nd place)
- Neo: OMG! Amazing! Exceptional! Yummy! Bravo! The only one of the five worth ordering or talking about. It's so buttery, so flaky and most importantly made with love. A molten dark chocolate with a fine quality. (1st place)
- Biscuit: the chocolate croissant at Biscuit is better than the other flavors they do but yet... I won't be ordering breakfast from them anytime soon. (4th place)
The best croissant - by far - is Neo's and the others are below average. Bravo Neo... Tartine Bakery and Gustav both come in second place, Le Grenier a Pain in third and and I'm sorry for Biscuit: they need to revise their recipes and upgrade their system.