I didn’t eat my first croissant until college. The first I remember was at a free buffet breakfast at the Boulder Holiday Inn. I wasn’t staying at the hotel; my roommates and I would just go over once in a while when we were especially broke and hungry. Calling that chewy mound of flour and butter a croissant, though, is about as ethically dubious as me stealing it from the buffet line.
Since, I’ve been schooled in the ways of flaky goodness, of laminated doughs and crackly crusts, melted butter and airy interiors. And one of the best places to get a “real” croissant is in a surprisingly large Lafayette bakery called Jeannot’s Patisserie & Bistro.
In fact, out of all of Jeannot’s extensive menu — which includes a plethora of pastries and desserts and spans breakfast to evening bites — it’s the humble, classic croissant that is pastry chef/owner Julien Jeannot’s favorite item. And the man should know: He ate them throughout his childhood in the south of France. He was so enamored with the little crescents on every corner of his hometown that he enrolled in culinary school at the age of 14, and baked his way up to executive pastry chef at a Michelin-starred European restaurant by the time he turned 21.
Jeannot moved to flashy Las Vegas and then to the still a-little-too-flashy California before marrying and moving to the much less flashy Boulder to start a family. And now we have Jeannot’s, where I’ve spent more than one morning self caring it up over chocolate croissants, peach tarts, morning buns and chocolate chip cookies.
The pain au chocolat’s glut of layers swaddle 64 percent dark chocolate, and while it definitely crackles when you tear into it, it doesn’t fully disintegrate into a pile of crusty shards like many croissants do. The morning bun is all swirly cinnamon and sugar, with so many crisp layers orbiting a chewy center, and the flakes you lose along the way taste like sweet little potato chips.
It’s not all sweet pastries, though, as Jeannot’s has a full brunch menu, filled with classics like quiche Lorraine, salade Lyonnaise, and a croque madame. I like the Atlantic Muffin, which is a thick, house-made English muffin loaded up with cream cheese, smoked salmon and a poached egg.
And here’s something you don’t often see at a bakery: Jeannot’s just got its liquor license, which means you can order Bloody Marys and champagne with your pastries. Soon, Jeannot said, the patisserie will extend its weekend hours until 7:30 p.m., when it will serve wine alongside French amuse gueles (or small, savory bites).
But if you’re like most customers, you’re probably ordering a version of that classic croissant that Jeannot so prizes and that Americans have fallen hard for. Luckily, the ones at this Lafayette bakery are a world away from my first stolen bite at the Holiday Inn.
Jeannot’s Patisserie & Bistro: 2770 Arapahoe Road., Lafayette, 303-586-6545; jeannotspatisserie.com
Editor’s note: This is part of our new series, Hidden Gems, in which we take a look at those restaurants you should know about but may not. They are either tucked away in strip malls or otherwise off the beaten path. Try them out, and if you like what you eat, pass the word.
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