Croissan’Time French Bakery and Fine Foods has a well deserved reputation for having what is arguably the best French bread in Florida. Founded 27 years ago by French baker Bernard Casse, this bakery’s most popular items are clearly the baguettes ($2.75) and mini croissants ($1.50) made with butter from Normandy. But the dinner rolls (60¢ ea.) are made from the same dough as the baguettes, so if you’re having a buffet, the rolls are a more practical alternative—and just as delicious. Croissan’Time is also the only bakery in Florida (as far as we know) that makes ficelles (meaning “string”), those very skinny baguettes that have more tasty and crunchy crust in proportion to soft crumb (what is called mie in French).
Croissan’Time is also a charming little café, where you can sit inside or outside and pretend that you’re in Paris. When going to eat at a bakery whose specialty is the bread itself, it’s best to keep that in mind when ordering your food (i.e., sandwiches are best). There is no service beyond the counter, so we placed our order and waited to be called outside. We started with the soup of the day, seafood, and a bacon and asparagus soufflé ($4.95). While the soup was good, we prefer their pea soup, when it is available.
Even though the soufflé was warmed up, it managed to retain the consistency of a classic soufflé. I don’t know how they do it. If there had been a little less asparagus, and if those pieces had been cooked more thoroughly, it would have been a perfect soufflé. The problem seems to be an obsession with recent culinary trends that call for undercooked vegetables. That would have been OK for a quiche, but you generally don’t want any crunchiness in your soufflé.
We were in heaven with our duck pâté sandwich on a baguette ($8.75). There are several garnishes available with the sandwich, such as lettuce, tomato, cheese, mayonnaise, etc. We opted for just a dab of Dijon mustard and some cornichons (mini pickles). If you keep it simple, you get more of the taste of what you are really paying for—in this case, it’s the pâté.
We then decided to be a little more adventurous. The best thing about the chicken pie ($8.50) was the pâte feuilletée (puff pastry) that encased it. The pastry is rarely made as well in Florida as it is at this bakery. The filling was juicy and quite good, but any more mushrooms would have made it a mushroom pie instead. By the way, Croissan’Time will prepare the dough for you to take out. That’s good for baking-challenged people like me.
We had to have dessert, what with endless choices of pastries and cakes–so pretty you almost don’t want to eat them. But eat we did—a very pretty “key lime tart” ($5.95) that perhaps wasn’t made of true key lime, with a slightly dense pastry base. But the mini “napoleons” (millefeuille in French) with sips of excellent espresso coffee made the Parisian illusion complete. As if that weren’t enough, we took with us a few white chocolates shaped and decorated like tiny dolphins… for later. And they were delicious!
If you go to Croissan’Time on Saturday or Sunday for brunch, you can enjoy live Jazz music. And, if you do, tell them Guy Magazine sent you.