Everyone has their own perfect croissant. I’m willing to bet that it falls somewhere along the spectrum of good croissants because, let’s be honest, a bad croissant just stinks. Of course, the fact that the majority of croissants made in the world are probably sub-par doesn’t stop croissant zealots like me from incessantly trying new ones in the hopes of figuring out which is the best in New York, London or, let’s say, Bristol.
Can we really apply a blanket term ‘best croissant’ to a single pastry? Isn’t the very nature of this laminated dough that it is finicky at best and impossible to master at worst?
I’ve come to the conclusion that the ideal croissant does not exist. Sure there are specimens that come closer to being your dream pastry than others and there are some examples that certainly taste like bliss, but a best one? Not really.
That being said, Ceci Cela comes pretty close to being regarded as New York’s best croissant. And, I gotta say, they come pretty close to my ideal as well. But, before we get to analyzing what makes this dough so exceptional, let’s take a look at the cafe shall we?
Ceci Cela is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cafe on Spring Street in Soho right off of Lafayette. The storefront is nestled among ritzy windy displays and right next to another patisserie. It looks a bit shabby. If you were just passing through, there’s no real reason why you would stop in, nevertheless think that this would be the patisserie touted as selling the best croissant in the city. But you’d be missing out.
Upon walking in, your impression wouldn’t change much. The front bit of the cafe is crowded, unpleasantly so. Push through the throngs of people getting their pastry to take away to their nearby office and you’ll find the most delightful little seating area. You’ll feel as if you have been transported from hectic Soho and transplanted in a delightful Montmartre cafe.
The croissant will only augment this feeling. Ceci Cela’s croissant is the single most buttery, decadent and French croissant I have had in the city. The outside is not crispy, it won’t break into flakes and it won’t give you delightful shards to pick up later. It will, however, pull apart into beautiful layers. It will give you a mouthful of butter each time. The taste is somewhere between being salty and sweet, a balance that not all croissants hit so pleasantly.
Is this the best croissant in New York City? Maybe, but it’s not my favorite. I’ll still always prefer a croissant that is a bit crispier, a bit drier and, yes, a bit less imbued with butter (I thought I’d never type it!). This croissant is, however, a must eat for any croissant loving person in New York. Even if it’s not your ideal, you won’t be disappointed!
What’s one food that you think has many levels of perfection?