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Croissants consistently provides first-class dining—all day and night
It’s part bakery and part bistro. It’s a caterer with wide appeal and it’s known for extraordinary wedding cakes. It’s also a unique eatery where executive chef Bradley Daniels has managed to carve out a niche for Francophiled food with a Carolina drawl.
“Bonjour Y’all,” to the icing on the cake Grand Stranders know as Croissants Bistro & Bakery.
Running a first-class bakery, in and of itself, is no easy task. A number of area “bakery cafes” have gone by the wayside over the years and many an owner who hung up the closed sign for good bemoaned the fact that they should have run either a bakery or a dining room, but not both.
For the most part they got burnt out on baking.
The fact that owner and chief kneader Heidi Vukov has made this concept work for 19 years now is an amazing feat. Croissants fires up the ovens around 4 a.m. The door swings open by 7 a.m. for breakfast and an army of pick-up-and-go orders for muffins and turnovers and fresh-baked pastries. By 11 a.m. the menu turns over to lunch, spotlighting aromatic bowls of homemade soups and artisan sandwiches like ham and pear on a pretzel bun (my personal favorite) or a hot pimento cheese and artichoke melt or bomber shrimp in a garlic wrap. But the last time I made a visit to Croissants was the first time I’d gone for dinner. And lucky for us, the prix fixe menu orchestrated for Restaurant Week had been held over. So, for one price, we could enjoy a soup or salad starter, one of the suggested entrées and a dessert of our choice—anything from the bakery display case. This was a no-brainer!
Our party of three was seated at one of the few booths, with cushions for our backs and a birds-eye-view of the small dining room. Even though the pumpkin bisque and gumbo du jour were tempting first courses, we were lured over to the green side of things with a classic Caesar and a pear and blue cheese salad. The spring mix tossed with candied pecans and red wine vinaigrette was yummy enough, but the star of my starter was a warm honey-poached pear filled with just the right amount of blue cheese crumbles to enhance, not overpower. The Caesar was classic indeed, not too heavy on the dressing with a snowfall of shaved, not shaken, parmesan.
From the entrée short list on the prix fixe menu, I ordered the crispy flounder, and my mother went for the flat iron steak. My husband shifted to the regular dinner menu to dive into short ribs, a dish that calls for up to five hours of slow cooking and loads of love. When it comes to flounder, I’m like Forrest Gump’s pal Bubba is with his shrimp. I’ve had it poached, stuffed, grilled, baked, sautéed, deep fried, sandwiched and rolled into a roulade. But I have to admit, this was only the second time in my dining life that I have been wowed by the preparation of this mild flat fish. Dipped in buttermilk and rolled in a seasoned breading, the flounder beneath the crunch was steaming and meaty, glazed over with an apricot finish. And the sides were not to be outdone—crazy-smooth grits nestled up against the filet along with perfect, just wilted spinach with the iron notes sautéed out of it.
My mother’s flat iron steak came plated in bite-size slices, tender bits of meat in a pool of onion and bourbon au jus and smoky tomato jam. She also enjoyed the accompanying sautéed spinach and mound of mashed potatoes.
The fall-off-the-bone short ribs stood at attention, surrounded by an earthy ragout of mushrooms, smoked tomato jam and a silky drizzle of white truffle oil. My husband has been trying for some time to perfect risotto at home and held up a forkful of Croissants’ asparagus-dappled version in reverence, “This is what I’m talking about!”
Full and satisfied from dinner, I have to admit that we took our desserts to go as the staff escorted us to the display counter to pick our sweet. We stood there like wide-eyed kids ordering a double-scoop ice cream cone, trying to choose between one of the layered cakes or custom brownies.
Over coffee the next morning, we dove into our thick slices of coconut custard torte, rolling the icing around our tongues and marveling at the sweet and salty notes of the salted chocolate caramel brownie.
We’ve already made mental plans to revisit Croissants and have placed our future orders: Smoked honey ginger lacquered duck breast with sweet potatoes incorporating duck fat, pickled bourbon cherries and bacon-infused kale. I have to try the peanut crusted tuna with a Pad Thai of rice noodles, carrots, spinach and cabbage.
Or we might visit for brunch one Saturday or Sunday to experience Chef Daniels’ Mardi Gras Omelette (shrimp, andouille, peppers and boursin) and Velvet Elvis (peanut butter, banana and candied bacon) creations or eat his take on Huevos Rancheros or Croque Monsieur.
Whether it be baked goodies or an intimate dinner, Croissants seems to be able to deliver, morning, noon and night. Bon Mange Y’all!
Croissants Bistro & Bakery
3751 Robert Grissom Parkway Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
(843) 448-2253; croissants.net
Breakfast: 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday
Lunch: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday
Dinner: 5–9 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Brunch: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.