The first thing that comes to mind when I think of my beloved Pâtisserie Au Kouign-Amann is butter – a shh load of butter. Your first impression will be nothing less, and that’s before you actually sink your teeth into one of their glorious pastries. Mouthwatering whiffs of bubbling butter escape and stretch far out the humble shop, putting you deep into a trance as you inch closer and closer to the entrance. As soon as you swing the door open, your nostrils flare, sparking your eyes to roll and your head to tilt back in pleasure. Watch the F-bombs, it’s a tiny place with all customers within an earshot. Awkward but totally understandable if you let one out, especially after getting physical with the goods.
It’s just plain foul to visit for the first time without sampling their namesake pastry. The kouign amann is basically a butter cake that’s sort of a cross between a croissant and a mille crêpes. Alternating layers of dough and ladles of sugary melted butter stack up to an inch in height – everything coming to life in the oven. Underneath the brittle candy crunch of the golden caramelized top, crêpe-like sheets puff up staying soft and plush with the right amount of chew, butter slightly sweating out under pressure. Every bite is rich, heavy and not overly sweet with just a tease of salt. I know I saw a wedge with your name on it for $1.95. Drop everything and run.
Thinking about skipping the croissants? For shame! $1.25 hooks you up with what’s arguably the best croissant in Montreal. It’s beautifully browned on the outside and always warm, with endless layers of buttery, flaky folds that practically melt in your mouth. My favorite bites are the first and last – those ends are the definition of shatteringly crisp. It’s pure butter in flavor, yet dangerously light on the stomach. You’re in serious trouble if you buy in bulk.
When a plain croissant just won’t do, keep an eye out for the ever-so-awesome almond croissant ($2.30). A crowning smear of sweet almond paste helps set a generous hand of sliced almonds, weighing down the puffy top in the process. But don’t worry, the inner layers stay buttery and flaky, and there’s even a bonus layer of almond paste sweetening the center. Worth every calorie.
Mark my words, the pastries at Pâtisserie Au Kouign-Amann are some of Montreal’s finest. If you meet an empty table – and your chances are slim – sit your ass down long enough to get high off the buttery aroma dancing out of the wide-open kitchen. Otherwise, take your brown paper bag to go and don’t waste any time – no real human being would.
Pâtisserie Au Kouign-Amann
322 ave du Mont-Royal E. | map