Crème de la crème: Lafayette Grand Café & Bakery’s homage to French croissants
Usually nothing is as good as seen on TikTok, but this? This was.
Oct 6, 2022
Mastering the “R” sound for my French class is a linguistic victory I am determined to accomplish. To achieve this, I am trekking to every patisserie in Manhattan. I spend all my money on these flaky, buttery bites that most people call croissants. So when I saw a viral TikTok of these circular, beautifully layered and ganache-filled croissants at Lafayette Bakery in NoHo, I knew I had to go.
Located on 380 Lafayette St., the cafe and bakery is the chéf-d’œuvre of Andrew Carmellini, a restaurateur and chef who runs over 15 restaurants in New York City. The bakery pays homage to French and Mediterranean cuisine with everything from Dry Aged Duck Aux Cerises ($44) to Lemon Ricotta Pancakes ($20). Aside from their many intricate pastries, their croissants rose to stardom on TikTok a month after they debuted, with people lining up around the block to get a nibble of the decadent pastry.
Scott Cioe, the bakery’s pastry chef, said the folding process used to make sandwich bread inspired his technique for the croissant’s signature cinnamon-roll-like shape. The three-day process of crafting the croissants takes seven steps: dough-making, laminating, proofing, baking, filling, glazing and decorating.
“We decided to tilt it upright, make it a little fun-looking so you could see all the laminations, and display all the hard work that went into it,” Cioe said.
Cioe said he never intended his new creation to go viral.
“It’s not really why we make things,” Cioe said. “At the end of the day, it being like, people saying it’s worth the hype, delicious, or whatever, that really kind of makes it all worth it. And that’s really what we’re going for — is that something substantial that people would actually enjoy?”
The original Lafayette Bakery croissant began with a pistachio flavor, drizzled with pistachio icing and nuts, which stays on the menu as a staple. On the first of every month, the bakery introduces a new flavor — October’s flavor is the Pumpkin Chai Latte Suprême.
Lafayette Bakery employee and 2022 NYU graduate Richard Chan shared that beyond the croissants, it is nearly impossible to have just one favorite dessert from the restaurant.
Chan, who has worked in the food industry for more than 20 years, recommends the Mille Feuille Erable, Blueberry Buttermilk Muffin and the Blackout Brownie. Chan describes the Mille Feuille Erable, his favorite among Lafayette Bakery’s current desserts, as a “square puff pastry that is filled with a maple cream custard and poached apples with cinnamon, stacked two layers high.”
When my friends and I decided it was time to finally check out this street corner Parisian cafe with the sexy croissants, we were expecting a line of restless dessert aficionados. To our surprise, we’d made it through quickly.
Lafayette Bakery’s iconic exterior is hard to miss, with large wooden windows and petite blue umbrellas sheltering quaint marble tables. Inside, the cafe follows a classic brasserie theme: blue tiles on mahogany floors, striking arched doorways and menu items scrawled tastefully on blackboards.
Three minutes later, my friend and I impatiently opened up Lafayette Bakery’s ornate blue packaging that cradled their September flavor, the berry custard croissants topped with lemon cream. Finally breaking into the numerous layers of flaky pastry, the blueberry custard filling achieved the perfect balance of sweetness.
I felt like Anton Ego biting into Remy’s ratatouille dish from “Ratatouille” for the first time. The gastronomic rollercoaster of a croissant was well worth the nine dollars.
Contact Sara Sharma at [email protected]