One of the final destinations on my culinary food tour of Seoul was the much coveted and overly-instagrammed bakery, Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. We just missed the cruffin craze when it hit SF a couple of years after we left and we never had the time (or patience) to wait in line to try one whenever we returned to visit, so when the first international Mr. Holmes Bakehouse opened in Seoul, I raised my eyebrows. Perhaps there would be cruffins in our future after all.
The last time we were in Seoul we made our first attempt to obtain, and eat, the elusive cruffin. We had heard first-hand from several Seou-ites that the lines weren’t very long, and/or that there were oftentimes no lines at all, so we spent a good portion of our evening, traveling across town on a cruffin run. By the time we arrived, there were not only no cruffins to be found, but there were no consolation baked goods of any kind left to purchase. Before leaving, Sly asked if I wanted to at least take a photo in front of their stupid neon sign, but of course I didn’t. That would have been cheating.
A couple years back, when cronuts were the new “it” pastry, I tried a knock-off, version from a no name bakery. It made me gag and it sort of turned me off of any sort of glorified baked good with a name that combined two things. Like croissant and doughnut. Or croissant and muffin.
I’m positive a “real” cronut is amazing, which is why people wait in line for hours to get one, but these days, I’m wholeheartedly against the entire mentality of coveting something to the point of getting up at the crack of dawn, waiting in line for several hours, and then, after all that, risking not getting what you came for because it sold out. Which is what happened to us the first time we attempted to buy a cruffin from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, though our failure at obtaining a cronut was probably just. We arrived an hour after the cruffins were “released” and never paid our dues by waiting in line. Obviously we did not belong to the rarefied cruffin elite. There would be no photo of a cruffin on my Instagram that night, and the world would silently weep.
But seriously, must every baked good on the planet require a wait-time of 2 hours and a per person limit on how many can be purchased? And must every visit to said bakery require a mandatory post to social media? More importantly, is any baked good on the planet, worth this level of dedication to procure?
Even though I felt negatively about buying into the hype, the fact is I did. I still spent nearly two hours on the subway to travel to and from Mr. Holmes Bakery just for the privilege of buying – and eating…and yes, instgramming — a $5 croissant. My curiosity got the best of me, and since it was late in the morning on a weekday, I figured that it was as good as time as any to avoid any lines and lay my cruffin desires to rest once and for all.
While Sly toiled away in his last meeting of the day, I rode to Gagnam to pick up some cruffins from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, though I think we all know that I wasn’t planning on leaving with just cruffins. There were still plenty of cruffins left, and in more flavors than I anticipated. I chose my allotted ration of two cruffins (chocolate mint and pineapple) as well as two brioche donuts (salted caramel and what we think was cheesecake?). Then I proceeded to take a billion photos of the poor pastries while resisting every urge to eat them all and go back for seconds. Has I done so, would I have even been allowed me to purchase more cruffins?
The entire cruffin excursion was more than a bit ridiculous, but I suppose now I can brag to everyone that I’ve had a cruffin (and have the photos to prove it!), and anyway I’m sure that by the time I post this, another pastry hybrid will have taken social media by storm.
I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy my box of baked goods, because they were indeed very delicious. I’m only saying that, given the choice, I’d still prefer a box of Shipley’s glazed do-nuts, fresh and hot right out of the oven, and at $8.50 a dozen (if my mom doesn’t have a coupon, which of course, she always does), is less than half of what I paid for four highly photogenic pastries. Not to mention, no line, no hype, and absolutely no photos. Perhaps my tastes are too old fashioned, too basic, for today’s trendy pastries. Or maybe I just prefer no-frills baked good that make for a lasting, lifelong, food memory instead of just a passing fad.
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse | CUISINE: Fancy bakery | COST: ~$5 per cruffin | LOCATION: Gangnam (main outpost) | DESCRIPTION: If you live in Seoul (or San Francisco), you’ve probably seen plenty of photos taken in front of a neon sign that reads, “I got baked in ____ “(fill in the blank with Seoul or San Francisco). Apparently this is the place to “get baked.” Mr. Holmes Bakehouse first opened in San Francisco, which is how I originally heard about it, with the Seoul location(s) being their first, and so far, only, international store. While Mr. Holmes Bakehouse pumps out a variety of baked goods, they are most known for their “cruffin” which is a croissant forced into a muffin shape, and injected with a rotating menu of creme fillings. The cruffins are released into the wild twice daily, and if you follow them on IG, you can keep up with the various flavors of the day/week. | VERDICT: While the cruffins were really delicious, they didn’t exactly live up to my wild expectations. Texture wise, I think I expected the cruffin to be a mixture of a cruffin and a muffin, instead of a coiled up, cream-filled croissant. Unless I’m missing something, I’m not sure that really qualifies it as a hybrid. Like I said, these are for sure delicious pastries, but I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to eat them and certainly would never wait in line. I would definitely return if I was in the neighborhood, or if maybe if I needed to bring some desserts to a party of people I cared about impressing. I preferred the brioche doughnut over the cruffin, but overall, when it comes to croissants, I still prefer my plain old boring standby, pain chocolat. A well-made chocolate croissant is hard to beat.