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After three months that left us on tenterhooks, longtime West Village favorite Patisserie Claude has reopened–sans Claude. The gruff French pastry chef has left the business in the hands of his able assistant Pablo, who was able to arrange financing to keep the place open. After a renovation that left the premises looking identical as far as we can tell, the place is once again packed with happy croissant eaters. The signed picture of violinist (and Django Reinhardt pal) Stephane Grappelli is gone, presumably returned to France with Claude. In its stead is a picture of Claude and Pablo, who is the new pastry chef. We delighted to see Pablo once again at work among the convection ovens in the cramped room behind the counter, training a new assistant.
But what about the croissants? A FITH taste test indicates that they are as good as ever, just a little different. The butteriness and flakiness remain, but the croissants are less tightly twisted, a little browner, and the almond croissant oozing a little more of the creamy marzipan custard. As in the days of Claude, the pan au chocolat had run out, and we’ve got to remember to get there before 10 a.m. next time.
We’ll miss the sight of Claude peering myopically through the kitchen window, though, his gray locks tousled as if he’d been in the bakery all night long. He probably had. 118 West 4th Street, 212-255-5911