Best Croissant - 2005
It doesn't take long for international ex-pats in South Florida to congregate with their own kind: Uruguayans have their clubs, Panamanians their hairdressers, Haitians their takeout restaurants, Poles their Friday-night dances. And the French have their bakeries. At Croissan'Time, you know you're in the right vicinity not just by the unmistakable scent of warm, layered pastry but from the recognizable buzz of French-speaking customers crammed together over tables crowded with beignet and brioche. Owner Bernard Casse opened Croissan'Time in 1986 after a string of apprenticeships and baking gigs in France and New York, including La Grenouille and Regine's. Locally, he wowed the Palm Beach crowd with delectable confections at the Little French Bakery before moving to Lauderdale. Casse and crew are still turning out hundreds of filled and plain croissants daily, hot from the ovens every couple of hours. You'll recognize chocolate or almond paste-filled varieties, but you may never have experienced the guilty pleasure of croissants stuffed with sour apricots and custard, tart raspberries, silky prunes, or walnuts, apples, strawberries, cinnamon, ham and cheese, or guava ($1.25 small, $2.25 large). They're flaky, buttery, each better than the next, and impossible to tire of. But if you're still craving variety, try the coffeecakes, the tourtes, a selection of charcuterie that includes mergez and boudin noir, game meats like pheasant and partridge, homemade ice creams, freshly cut cheeses, paté sandwiches, bacon bread, cream puffs -- a short, delicious tour of French gastronomy for any Lauderdalian who loves Paris.