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The croissant's various origin stories are as varied as they come.  A popular myth dates back to the Battle of Vienna in the 1680s, when the Turks had surrounded Vienna, cutting off supply lines in an effort to starve its inhabitants out.  This apparently took longer than expected, and the Turkish army soon took to digging tunnels under the city to gain access.  Bakers up late at night heard the tunneling, alerted the city's defenders, and saved Vienna from occupation.  In celebration, the bakers made the croissant, taking the shape from the Ottoman flag.

Many people have taken issue with that story, noting that it didn't really spread around until the first edition of Larousse Gastronomique in 1938.  In other versions of the story, the battle was in Budapest.  Others credit the croissant to Marie Antoinette.  Still others cite it back to Austrian August Zang, who, in  the 1930s, opened one of the most famous Viennese bakeries in Paris, and later developed the croissant from the Austrian kipfel.

These disputes all underlie an accepted truth: everyone loves a great croissant.  Even the bad ones are good.  But who's got the best croissant in town?  Vancouver Slop's going to find out, with the thankless task of sampling croissant after croissant - from restaurant, from bakery from cafe - until we come up with a declaratory win.

Here's the criteria:
  • Butteriness - it goes without saying that a great croissant owes a heavy, heavy indebtedness to bricks, buckets and boatloads of butter;
  • Flakiness - tear a croissant apart (which, of course, is the best way to eat one), and you should see flaky layer after flaky layer.  Pretenders will end up resembling a solid dinner roll mess; and
  • Lightness - while lightness and flakiness are common bed, lightness in itself can't be forgotten.  A lovely croissant should float away like a balloon, a possible solution for the reported helium shortage.
We'll start it off with Acme Cafe's croissant later this week, but tell us what other places we should check out in the comments.

-The Slop

19 comments

Anonymous said... @ October 11, 2010 at 9:24 PM

1. Patisserie Bordeaux
2. Coco et Olive
3. Thomas Haas (49th Parallel, Les Faux Bourgeois)
4. La Baguette & L'Echalote
5. La Boulangerie
6. Acme
7. Elysian
8. Panda Truck or whatever it's called.
9. Vancouver Croissants, I guess.
10. Seriously reaching on those last five.

Anonymous said... @ October 11, 2010 at 9:25 PM

Pastry Club in Kerrisdale. 2438 W 41st Ave

taraine said... @ October 12, 2010 at 12:04 AM

Cedar Cottage Cafe (Kingsway and Clark). They're made in house daily.

This neighborhood is getting some serious food - Pink Peppercorn, Aree Thai, Sushi Bay, Dai Tung, Les Faux Bourgeois, Seb's...

Just Sayin'

Anonymous said... @ October 12, 2010 at 12:51 PM

Patisserie Lebeau

Andy said... @ October 12, 2010 at 3:30 PM

DB Bistro has a very nice brunch pastry platter with croissant, pain du chocolate and a cheese one.

Anonymous said... @ October 12, 2010 at 7:13 PM

If you have not had it already, have an ice cream croissant from Panda bakery (the mini school bus-like truck parked near David Lam Park)... fresh warm croissant with scoops of vanilla, choc or green tea ice cream. Amazing

Anonymous said... @ October 12, 2010 at 10:34 PM

You definitely have to try Thomas Haas' Double Baked Almond Croissant!!!

Anonymous said... @ October 12, 2010 at 10:59 PM

I have already informally conducted this survey - plain butter croissant only -- and Quince on 2nd Ave wins on all 3 criteria.

The Slop said... @ October 13, 2010 at 9:20 AM

Thanks everyone. We're sticking to plain butter croissants for this one.

Anonymous said... @ October 13, 2010 at 5:22 PM

The double baked almond croissants are the best then the plain butter croissants at La Baguette.

Anonymous said... @ October 14, 2010 at 9:59 AM

49th parallel's thomas haas butter croissants!

Anonymous said... @ October 14, 2010 at 12:28 PM

I saw someone pick up a Thomas Haas croissant that fell on the floor and eat it. That's how good they are.

Derek said... @ October 14, 2010 at 1:12 PM

Thanks for putting us on your list to try and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Derek
PanDa Fresh Bakery

Anonymous said... @ October 14, 2010 at 7:10 PM

Coco et Olive
Thomas Haas
La Baguette

The Fledgling Basement Foodie said... @ October 14, 2010 at 10:14 PM

The best croissant I have ever had is from the Pacific School of Culinary Arts cafe on Granville Island. It's open during the day and it is delicious. So buttery, so light, so flaky, so French, so perfect.

On another note, in response to taraine's comment, Cedar Cottage neighbourhood does have some awesome eateries, but let's not forget The Tipper (wonderfully reviewed on V-Slop) at Kingsway and Victoria. Great burgers, great coffee, great service, great chef/owner Colin! I really want to try their hoisin salad.

Anonymous said... @ October 16, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Freshly baked croissants at Brother's Cafe by T&T near Stadium station. Nom nom!

Anonymous said... @ October 17, 2010 at 1:56 PM

ELYSIAN
hands down.

Mrs. Loquacious said... @ October 21, 2010 at 9:29 PM

La Baguette & Elysian. Both are flaky and buttery and light, though without having them side-by-side I can't tell you which one is superior.

Anonymous said... @ January 10, 2011 at 9:17 AM

Swiss Bakery in Mount Pleasant, 3rd Ave - is worth trying as well!

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