Best Thing I Ate This Week: The Croissant Puff at Chez Christophe

How is this not the Cronut of 2018?

July 3, 2018

By Neal McLennan / Photo: Chez Christophe

Our offices recently moved from Burnaby’s SOLO district and in the week before the move I committed myself to trying out all the restaurants in the neighbourhood that I never got around to visiting because I was in denial that our offices were in the SOLO district. To be honest most of the spots were just fine—good in a pinch, not worth traveling for if you weren’t in the neighbourhood—but near the end of my week I hit the pilgrimage jackpot.

I thought I was well aware of Chez Christophe. The high-end patisserie on Hastings is routinely lauded in our annual Restaurant Awards for its chocolates and baked goods, and Chef Christophe Bonzon is justly regarded as a pastry savant. But I was showing up for their under-the-radar Cafe menu, a compact exercise in five well-priced sandwiches ($6.95 to $9.45) with creative fillings ( jerk chicken, roasted cauliflower). I went for the beef bulgogi and, for starters, the bread was all you’d expect from such a spot: it emerged from the panini press unscathed by the high heat, retaining its springing freshness and eager to absorb the richness of the filling, which was free from the excessive sweetness that bulgogi marinade can often impart. It was a helluva sandwich and if not for what happened next, it would be the focus of this post.

But as I was leaving I made the knee-jerk reaction to grab a pastry, given that I’d driven all the way over here.

“What’s that?” I asked, pointing to a sugar-dusted tower of pastry that sat, a tad off-kilter, behind the glass.

“A coconut-filled croiss…”

“I’ll take one.”

At $3.95, the croissant puff ain’t cheap—although compared to the $3.50 for, say, the ho-hum Maple Bar at Lucky Donuts, it’s a bonafide steal. The components are simple enough: croissant dough, a coconut filing (evidently this rotates with chocolate, chocolate chip, vanilla, pistachio, and raspberry all having had their day in the sun) and sugar. But Les Demoiselles D’Avignon is just oil paint and canvas, too. Yet somehow the hand of genius has touched both these creations. But one of them gives you a deft interplay between sweetness and substance for less than a Flat White at Starbucks. The other is in at MOMA.

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