There's now a bright spot in the land of cottony croissants.
Allow us to introduce you to the crackly-crusted, incomparably excellent specimens made by Greg Mindel, who just launched his own company, Neighbor Bakehouse.
Mindel is no stranger to laminated dough. The self-taught baker honed his skills at two Ritz-Carltons and Tartine bakery, was pastry chef at Spruce and the now-defunct Tell Tale Preserve Co., and has also taught pastry and viennoiserie at the San Francisco Baking Institute.
Currently, Mindel bakes six items: a plain croissant ($2.75); a Valrhona chocolate claw ($3.50); a spiral filled with pistachios and blackberry jam ($4.25); a savory mushroom tart with Manchego ($4.50); a Prosciutto di Parma and asparagus croissant ($4.75), and a sausage roll comprising a link with roasted onion and parsley and a smear of grainy mustard ($4.50). All utilize his ethereal dough, so flaky and light, it melts on the tongue.
Neighbor is a one-man operation: Mindel bakes all night from Leadbetter's in Dogpatch, then delivers in the morning. Currently, his pastries are sold at Sightglass, Four Barrel and Café Sophie.
"I don't want to overextend myself," says Mindel. "I am really trying to make something exceptional."
One bite, and you know he succeeded.
Neighbor croissants are available at Sightglass Coffee, 270 7th St. (at Folsom St.), 415-861-1313 or sightglasscoffee.com; Four Barrel, 375 Valencia St. (at 15th St.), 415-252-0800 or fourbarrelcoffee.com; and Café Sophie, 3463 16th St. (at Church), 415-529-2972 or cafesophiesf.com.