To go with Jojo: Chocolate croissant crusade


For those who have never experienced it, a Chicago winter is indescribably cold. The face-stinging winds, sub-zero temperatures and months spent in a sunless, gray haze doesn’t even begin to cover it. After Lake Michigan freezes over and sharp ice caps begin to form on its shore, the only way to survive is to envelop yourself with warmth. For coffee lovers, this may be a steaming latte in one of Evanston’s many inviting coffee shops. However, I’ve found one of the best ways to sweeten up your February is with one of my favorite Valentine’s Day treats: a warm, buttery chocolate croissant. 

In my chocolate croissant crusade, I decided to go to three different Evanston staples, all of which are known for their cafe-related charms: Brothers K Coffeehouse, Hewn and Patisserie Coralie. While the three contenders are incredibly different, I was happy to discover that at first glance, none disappointed. In fact, as I made the rounds from Central St. to Davis St. to Main St., I couldn’t help but crack open the bags at a stoplight to gaze longingly at my precious confectionery cargo. I may be blocks away from the high school rather than the Eiffel Tower, but as I sit down to dig into these treats, my god, have I made it to France. 


In deciding where to venture on the North Side, Hewn was the obvious choice. Previously named as one of the best bakeries in America by Food & Wine magazine and renowned for its artisan breads, I was interested to see if the Central St. staple’s pastries compared to the store’s esteemed reputation. 

Heading to Hewn on a Sunday morning is a mission. At around 11:15 a.m., the line had already wrapped out the door of the building and halfway down the block. With no warm drink in hand, I decided it would be better if I came back after picking up its competitors. By 12 p.m., the line had vanished, and I happily sauntered into the rustic storefront. Within minutes, I was $4.15 poorer, but equipped with the most puffy, flaky croissant I had ever seen. While the actual pastry was the least sweet out of all my options, the chocolate was the smoothest and darkest, leading me to immediately believe Hewn did not skimp on quality. The croissant itself was dark in color and held an unmatched airiness that clearly results from a wise pastry chef and experienced hand. All in all, I was pleased with Hewn’s creation, but I can’t help but believe the bread shop’s prestige was a significant factor in how much I enjoyed the whole experience. 4.2/5.

Brothers K

Armed with a craving for a good iced coffee, I decided to head to Brothers K Coffeehouse for my next croissant. The cafe, which is cozily situated on the corner of Main St. and Hinman Ave., is the pinnacle of a good coffeehouse: a welcoming environment to do some homework, meet a friend and pick up mouthwatering, strong coffee. Most importantly, though, it’s the perfect place to grab a copy of The Evanstonian (wink, wink). Luckily, the croissants hold up as well. 

There’s no doubt the chocolate croissant at Brother’s K was mouth-wateringly delicious, but it was definitely the most unique and non-traditional croissant I tried. It was significantly lighter in color and flatter than those from Hewn and Patisserie Coralie but still incredibly appetizing, partly due to the lightly-dusted coat of powdered sugar spanning its surface. While the croissant was light and fluffy, somehow it was simultaneously a bit dense and chewy. Compared to its competitors, it was also significantly less flaky and more moist. What really set the treat apart, though, was the taste of the pastry itself, which possessed undertones of something sweet but hard to grasp, like almond or vanilla. While the croissant at Brothers K almost rivaled a sweet roll, I’ll most definitely be tempted to grab one on my next coffee adventure.  4/5.

Patisserie Coralie

From the outside looking in, Patisserie Coralie looks like a quaint little France themed coffee shop that the occasional Evanstonian visits in lieu of a European vacation. When I walked in that Sunday for my first visit ever, I was shocked to see every seat taken and a short line stemming from the counter. Excited voices reverberated around the small establishment, cultivating the sort of buzz synonymous with old friends catching up. 

The croissant, which came out to be the cheapest of my options at $3.50 a piece, was the harmonious middleground between Hewn and Brothers K. It was of a similar color to Hewn, but slightly less flaky and a little bit more moist. The pastry was springy, and the light sweetness of the buttery dough was offset by the deep, darkness of the chocolate. Overall, I was impressed with Patisserie Coralie, and for my first trip in, the cafe made a convincing argument that I should come back. 4/5.