Liv Sandow, Cuisine Editor
It is difficult to imagine a perfect continental breakfast without images of beautiful, flaky croissants wafting, like their freshly baked aroma, into my mind. Although Durham and Paris are two very different places, I searched far and wide to find most irresistible croissant in this city so that you don’t have to.
First up on this croissant odyssey, we ventured to the Bizr Coffee House to sample one of their all-butter croissants, and were immediately confronted with some of life’s big, dairy-related questions. How buttery is too buttery? Is there even such a thing as too much butter? Is butter a carb? Will I be described as ‘all-butter’ after eating all of these croissants? Bizr offered the perfect start to our morning of pastry indulgence: the croissant was a warm colour and a reasonable size for £2.05, but unfortunately its temperature (Baltic) and texture (somewhat stodgy) left us needing more…
Crossing the bridge, Coviello was next on our list – they did not stock the traditional all-butter variety, but instead specialised in more Italian versions: pistachio or chocolate cream-filled croissants. Having plumped for pistachio, it became immediately clear that this was in a different league to Bizr’s offering. Not only was it five pence cheaper (a student budget friendly £2), the texture can only be described as immense. Coviello has managed to strike the seemingly impossible balance between flakiness and crispiness, a harmony elevated by the interior’s pistachio cream. Although the actual flavour of this filling was perhaps slightly artificial, the warmth of the pastry more than made up for this and succeeded where croissant number one did not.
Flat White has long been heralded as one of Durham’s go to cafés – its queues at brunchtime often extend past the lofty gates of Hatfield; we were understandably excited for what this staple of the Durham community would offer us. You can therefore appreciate our incandescent rage at the meagre quality of this breakfast treat; not warm, nor flaky, nor buttery, but instead the type offered on budget airline flight. You could probably fly to Paris with Ryanair for less than this £2.20 extortion. It’s safe to say that we will be croissant Flat White off our list.
However, the quest for the perfect croissant must go on and fuelled with sugar, we trekked up the hill towards Claypath Deli. Although not as central as some other cafés, this voyage was undoubtedly worth it – a treasure trove of beautiful pastries, freshly made bread and delicious sandwiches awaits any patron of this artsy deli, reminiscent of a small Parisian boulangerie. At long last, we had hit the croissant jackpot: a rich, mouth-watering flavour, heightened by the textural masterpiece of light, buttery pastry with a superlatively flaky outside. For only £1.35, this croissant achieves a 10/10.