My favourite croissant story of all time is when I was grabbing a quick bite to eat one morning before a meeting with a mate called Tom. We both had pastries and I told him that I wished I could eat them every single day. He wondered why I didn't and I said because they were made pretty much entirely of butter; butter folded on top of butter in fact. He was astounded as somebody had told him that croissants were good for you and he'd been making an effort to eat as many as possible over the years for his "health". True story and I'm just annoyed that I ruined his buzz for him. Croissants are a treat I indulge in a couple of times a week but having grown up in Belgium, and spent lots of time in France what we get served here can best be described as a bunch of frozen, pre cooked, mass produced shite.
In the same way I burst Tom's bubble, I'm going to have to do the same for all the rest of you. The gorgeous looking croissants on the counters of all your favourite coffee shops? Frozen, pre-cooked, and the biggest input the staff have is slapping them onto a tray into the oven (and maybe glazing them when they come out). There are exceptions but for the most part, croissants and pastries in this country are made in factories. I'd say well over 90% of them are. When somebody in the know told me about a "Hidden Gem" down on the quays called Panem doing the best croissants in Dublin, I scoffed and headed down with low expectations.
How wrong I was.. Like most people, I'd say I've walked past this place a million times without noticing it. I presumed it was just a shitty little cafe but I was blown away from the second I walked in. It was a husband and wife operation (at least it looked like they were married!); with the wife making fresh bread and pastries, as the husband laughed and joked with the customers in a way only an Italian in a coffee bar can. I had an almond croissant and one with custard on the inside. They were hands down the best I have ever tasted in Ireland. Fluffy, light, rich, flakey and smooth. As I sat outside eating them in the sun I felt like I was back on the French Riviera.
It is a seriously small operation though, and given the prep time involved with pastries when they run out for the day, that's that - so you'll want to get here early. Just when I thought I knew most of the amazing food spots in Dublin, up pops one staring me right in the face. I'll be a regular in here because baking in Dublin doesn't get any better than this.