About the Store
Trung Nam French Bakery is a small bakery which opened in St Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood in 1989. The family who runs the business got the recipes from when they lived in France, and they still serve strong after more than 30 years. And they’re still cash-only.
The croissants sold at this bakery are medium-sized, tending towards large, with a proportionally medium peak and a slight curvature. The curvature is more pronounced on some croissants I saw in the display case. The layer seams are large, suggesting a significant rise. The coloring is a light brown, darkest on top and where they touched the pan. The croissants smell of rich butter all over (delicious!).
The exterior of the croissants here is sturdy in some ways, and flexible in others: there is a crispy outer layer which will break off into flakes, and that crispy layer stays pretty well stuck together until some force is applied. However, the layer just underneath is soft and will crush easily.
The interior of the croissants I bought displayed an airy cell structure typical to many croissants, with some larger air pockets here and there. Along with the softer exterior, croissants from this bakery would be easier to crush and thus not well suited to sandwiches. The interior smelled of both richness and yeast fermentation.
When I ate them, the croissants tasted light, airy, and rich and slightly yeasty. They did indeed crush easily, but their softness did contrast with the slight crisp on the exterior. Overall I would say they’re very pleasant to eat, and great as a snack, with a caveat (read on).
I first had the croissants here in 2020, with a friend whose opinion differed slightly from mine. I found that these croissants were nice and tasted French, but their lightness of both color and mouthfeel reminded me of mass-produced croissants; it’s hard to get a good crisp and firm texture on the outside unless you’re artisanal. My friend stated that these were the “working man’s croissants” vis-a-vis the ones from Marc Heu. I still remembered these fondly, and reviewing them in 2021 confirms my appreciation, but my friend felt they were a bit disappointing.
If you want a French-style croissant at a decent price, this place will treat you well.
Ratings & Numbers
Taste Quality: 🇫🇷
Price: $2.50 (2019), $2.75 (mid 2020), $3 (April 2021). Cash only.
Trung Nam has a very limited menu: plain croissants, various filled croissants (some shaped like an odd pain au chocolat), a few French/Asian cookies, their own bánh mì, and Vietnamese coffee. The filled croissants have a light glaze.
The bánh mì are pretty legit.