The only trouble with The Croissanterie food truck that’s been so popular in Central Arkansas is that it doesn’t stay in one place. If you craved those infinitely flaky, buttery constructions, you had to go on social media to look up where it was going to be that day. It’s often been a happy surprise when it showed up somewhere you wanted to be.
The food truck is still doing its mobile rolly goodness thing, but Arkansans seeking a more fixed spot to purchase the puffy French pastries are in luck. Chefs/owners Jill McDonald and Wendy Schay last week opened their first brick-and-mortar restaurant, located at 14710 Cantrell Road (the same shopping center as Pizza Cafe West). Its full name: The Croissanterie Bakery, Patisserie & Cafe.
If you haven’t yet tried The Croissanterie’s fare, now’s the time to remedy that sadness. If you’ve only had the croissants that come in the plastic bag or boxed at Kroger or Walmart (or God forbid, from Burger King) consider this a do-over. It’s like you’ve never had croissants at all.
True croissants are structural creations built on butter, flour, heat, air, yeast and some kind of wizardry that makes them impossibly light, creamy and flaky. This buttery richness is the aroma you’ll smell when you walk into the new location.
The day’s offerings fill the bakery cases and display trays along the counter, replenishments rolled in fresh from the kitchen. They offer butter croissants, chocolate croissants, almond croissants and bags of small croissant-muffin hybrids rolled in a cinnamon sugar that hints at some extra loveliness: nutmeg, maybe vanilla bean? Also, different specialty croissants will be sold, like a Girl Scouts croissant with Thin Mints crumbled into the chocolate filling. The “regular” chocolate croissants are filled the French way, with just a touch of high-quality dark chocolate.
The magical almond croissants are easily the bestsellers. The just-slightly-crispy caramelization of the crust creates deep color and luscious flavor offset with glazed slivered almonds and a dusting of powdered sugar. Inside, the buttery, creamy layers hide a sweet almond paste that sends them over the moon. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote about “kisses like charity — creating want by holding back nothing at all.” If he’d tried the similarly generous simplicity of The Croissanterie’s almond croissants, I’m willing to bet he’d have died a happier man.
Also gracing the counter are fresh-baked cookies, muffins, brownies and sometimes other goods. The Croissanterie bakes up “Ding Dong” cupcakes that out-chocolate anything Hostess ever dreamed of baking.
We ordered a Ham & Brie croissant — a lunch item they were happy to make for breakfast by request — with fresh fruit; the veggie Quiche of the Day, full of spinach, mushrooms, tomato and onion, served with a muffin and fruit; and the aforementioned perfect almond croissant. Coffee from Guillermo’s is complimentary through the end of the month for the Grand Opening.
The hearty Ham and Brie sandwich contained JiDona Farms shoulder bacon, brie, Bibb lettuce and tomato, and Dijon mustard. A tangy-sweet base was a nice surprise (we thought apricot, though a later look at the menu said tomato jam).
Our sides of fruit were unexpectedly delicious. The apples, strawberries, grapes, blueberries, cantaloupe and pineapple were full of sweetness and impeccably fresh. The sour cream muffin was fluffy and mildly sweet, as we’d hoped. And the hot quiche offered a dense blend of savory flavors. Its crust, made from the croissant dough, held up well.
We left Saturday morning with happy bellies and a take-home box of croissants (two butter, one chocolate, one almond), plus two of the lip-smacking good Ding Dongs to see us through the weekend. They just barely made it to Sunday.
Know before you go: The Croissanterie is closed Sunday-Tuesday.
Head’s up to the burger heads: Their beloved Le Burger will remain a food-truck-exclusive food for now. It looks like the staff is busy enough (they told us they’d been working until midnight) without fussing with a grill.
The Croissanterie, Bakery, Patisserie & Cafe.
Wed.-Fri., 7 a.m.-2 p.m.; and Sat. 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
@thecroissanterielr on Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter and Facebook
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