The first time I went to Queens I was in high school. Two of my best friends lived there in one of the three Queens neighborhoods that the subway touches and convinced me to go out to see Borat. We bought our tickets to see Happy Feet and sauntered into the incorrect cinema without a care in the world.
Without a care in the world is, in fact, a good way to describe my attitude toward Queens. I don’t think about it and, in that affectionate way of random New York areas, I don’t really care about it. Sure, it’s New York and I hope that all the people there are happy, but I don’t quite register that it exists apart from when I land at JFK.
If there are two things in the world that will get me to care about a place, they are coffee and croissants. Queens has both. After hearing about Cannelle Patisserie for what seemed like eons, I managed to make the trip. All the way to Jackson Heights — or on the border of Jackson Heights and somewhere else as all neighborhoods are described in Queens — to figure out what made the pastries so gosh darn delicious.
I’m not sure I figured it out.
The café is located in a strip mall and would be frightfully easy to miss had you not travelled so far, unwilling to leave empty handed. Inside the bakery the strip mall atmosphere continues with faux wood and plastic features that evoke an air of early bird special. As the tables are full and the line is long, it’s easy to put aside your doubts and trust that the customers know quality.
Since I knew I would
probably never return, I sampled a shocking amount of pastries; a couple croissants, a pain au chocolat and a brioche for three people. There were plenty more pastries that looked quite appealing from behind the glass display case.
I wanted this croissant to be so good. After going to Bread’s Bakery, I had high expectations. Unfortunately, I wasn’t amazed. The croissant was light and fluffy with a pleasantly crisp outside. There wasn’t a decadent buttery flavor or texture; the flavor seemed lost. It wasn’t so much bready, but it was oddly dense. While I would liken it to the croissant from Gontran Cherrier, I’m not sure it was even that good. I wouldn’t return and I probably wouldn’t recommend it.
The pain au chocolat was equally disappointing, though the bitter chocolate baton improved the pastry. The brioche is barely worth mentioning, though pretty much any brioche beside the one at Bakeri is notable.
Save the time the money and effort. You don’t need to travel to Cannelle Patisserie in Queens for a stellar bakery experience. If you’re looking for a pastry excursion, Almondine or Runner & Stone are much better bets.
What makes you travel to a new area?