Not all baguettes are created equal.

Not all baguettes are created equal.Élodie Noël

The classic French bread can be found in multiple locations across the capital city. But where is really worth the visit? Where can you find the best one? F&W contributor (and French bread connoisseur)  Élodie Noël does the research.

There is absolutely no doubt that you can find some incredibly delicious bread in Ireland and of course, in Dublin. When I used to visit the Irish capital as a tourist, I would always sneak a loaf of soda bread in my suitcase on the way back home to Paris as I found it so tasty and unique.

Since moving to Ireland, I have been enjoying the wide array of bread available, from the traditional soda bread to the gorgeous sourdough loaves that are burgeoning around the city. I don’t really miss French loaf bread since the offering is so good in Dublin, but when it comes to a really tasty baguette, you won’t find one at every street corner.

Bread 41's offering

Bread 41's offering

The perfect baguette

Crispy on the outside with a light yellow bubbly crumb inside, a French baguette offers nutty flavours with a hint of butter. The crust should be golden brown and the crumb irregular and slightly chewy. A baguette is supposed to be a carrier of flavours, which is why in France we eat it with butter, cheese, or sauce dishes. It should taste good, but not be overpowering.

So, starting with the bad. What lets almost all the contestants of this test down was the crust, which just wasn’t right. Is it the air in Dublin that is too humid, making the crust soft only moments after it is baked? Maybe, as most baguettes got much better immediately after a quick trip to the oven or the toaster to crisp them up. While Dunnes, Cuisine de France and Lidl end up at the bottom of the list, a big disappointment came from Fallon & Byrne, whose bakery section usually gets it right.

Now for the best part. Our winner baguette was simply as good as the ones you would find in a great French bakery. Baked by The Bretzel Bakery, it came from Dollard & Co in the city centre. Although it was raining cats and dogs on the day of the test, the crust managed to stay crispy, and overall offered an utterly pleasant experience. Bread 41 came really close, with a delicious product, which felt very artisan-like and provided superb flavours. Baguettes from Le Levain, Avoca and Le Pain Quotidien were also great contestants. For the details of the test, see below.

Read more from Élodie: The History Of Bolognese

Le Petit Parisien, 17 Wicklow St, Dublin 2

Price of the baguette: €2

Look: 7/10
Crust: 6/10
Crumb: 6/10
Taste: 6/10
Value: 7/10
Total: 32/50

Verdict:

It is a sourdough baguette so it looks a bit darker and “fatter” than a traditional one. The crumb is slightly irregular with a nice smell, but the crust is soft, not crispy at all. The taste is quite pleasant but could do with more depth.  

Fallon & Byrne (several locations in Dublin)

Price of the baguette: €1.95

Look: 5/10
Crust: 3/10
Crumb: 5/10
Taste: 4/10
Value: 7/10
Total: 24/50

Verdict:

Quite a disappointing result from one of the best food emporiums in Ireland. The crumb is very regular and white, the crust completely soft. The taste is plain and overall the baguette feels… stale.

Le Levain, purchased in Sheridan's, 11 South Anne Street, Dublin 2.

Price of the baguette: €2.90

Look: 6/10
Crust: 6/10
Crumb: 8/10
Taste: 9/10
Value: 7/10

Total: 36/50

Verdict:
This bread doesn't look like a baguette, it is very dark and thick, and the crust lacks crispiness, but the crumb is very nice: irregular, with a gorgeous smell and a good slightly elastic texture. The taste is beautiful, with a lovely depth of flavour, probably from the fact that it is sourdough.

Avoca, 11-13 Suffolk St, Dublin 2.

Price of the baguette: €3.20

Look: 6/10
Crust: 5/10
Crumb: 8/10
Taste: 8/10
Value:6/10

Total: 33/50

Verdict:
Quite a huge baguette, but the look is rather appealing. While the crust isn’t crispy (can you see a pattern here?), the irregular and chewy crumb show that the ingredients used are good quality. The flavour is great with a slightly nutty undertone, and you can taste the caramelisation of the crust. It is a pricey number (literally the cost of three baguettes in France), but overall, it's a good one. Toasted in the morning, it proves very satisfying.

Bread 41

Bread 41

Hansel & Gretel Bakery, 20 Clare Street, Dublin 2.

Price of the baguette: €1.95

Look: 6/10
Crust: 5/10
Crumb: 5/10
Taste: 6/10
Value: 7/10
Total: 29/50

Verdict:
The baguette looks well baked but it’s missing the ridges of a traditional baguette. The crumb is irregular, but a bit too thick with no elasticity, while the crust shows a bit of crispiness but not much. This taste is good, with a slight acidity, but the texture is letting it down.

Dunnes (several locations in Dublin and Ireland)

Price of the baguette: €0.75

Look: 5/10
Crust: 4/10
Crumb: 2/10
Taste: 2/10
Value: 5/10
Total: 18/50

Verdict:
Looks like an industrially-made baguette but with interesting asperities. The crumb is too regular and falls apart, the crust is too soft. The taste is plain, with no depth whatsoever. This baguette is very cheap in price, but also very insignificant.

Cuisine de France (several locations in Dublin and Ireland)

Price of the baguette: €1.40

Look: 5/10
Crust: 4/10
Crumb: 3/10
Taste: 3/10
Value: 4/10
Total: 19/50

Verdict:
The colour is quite uniform, making it look very processed. The crumb is too dense and regular, the crust too soft. Taste-wise, it is terribly plain, with a little hint of sweetness at the end - probably because the flour is very refined.

La Cocotte (Odaios Food), Inside the Alliance Française, 1 Kildare St, Dublin 2

Price of the baguette: €2

Look: 7/10
Crust: 6/10
Crumb: 7/10
Taste: 6/10
Value: 7/10
Total: 33/50

Verdict:
A nice appealing look, with beautiful dark ridges. The crumb is nicely airy with a slightly nutty taste. This baguette could have been baked for a bit longer, which would have given it more crispiness. It is a good contestant, you can see it's not made by an artisan baker but it does the job.

Read more from Élodie: Mum and Baby-Friendly Dining in Dublin

Le Pain Quotidien, 1 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. 

Price of the baguette: €2

Look: 9/10
Crust: 7/10
Crumb: 7/10
Taste: 7/10
Value: 7/10
Total: 37/50

Verdict:
This looks like a proper French baguette, well cooked, with the distinctive ridges. The crust lacks crispiness but has a nice texture, while the crumb is airy with good flavour.

The Bretzel Bakery in Dollard & Co, 2-5 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2 or 1A Lennox St, Portobello, Dublin 8. 

Price of the baguette: €2.75

Look: 10/10
Crust: 8/10
Crumb: 9/10
Taste: 9/10
Value: 8/10
Total: 44/50

Verdict:
The winner of this test, the Baguette d’Esparde is just as good as the ones you would find in a great French bakery. The crust is golden with sharp ridges, the crumb is bubbly and chewy. The flavours are perfectly balanced.

Bread 41, 41 Pearse St, Dublin 2. 

Price of the baguette: €3.40

Look: 9/10
Crust: 9/10
Crumb: 9/10
Taste: 9/10
Value: 7/10
Total: 43/50

Verdict:
This beast of a baguette - which they name “flute” - could easily compete against some of the best French ones. The flavours and the textures are on point, showing that a proper bakery is behind this gorgeous bread. It doesn’t come cheap, but it’s worth every bite.  

Tesco (several locations in Dublin and Ireland)

Price of the baguette: €1

Look:7/10
Crust: 7/10
Crumb: 6/10
Taste: 6/10
Value: 8/10
Total: 34/50

Verdict:
Looking a bit pale, the baguette is nicely crispy and offers some good flavours. The crumb is slightly irregular, which is nice to see for a baguette produced by a supermarket.

Lidl (several locations in Dublin and Ireland)

Price of the baguette: €0.69

Look: 5/1
Crust: 4 /10
Crumb: 3/10
Taste: 3/10
Value: 6/10
Total: 21/50

Verdict:
Very processed and industrial looking. The crust is quite tough, the crumb is poor and overall the taste isn’t pleasant - which isn’t the case for all of Lidl’s bread, otherwise perfectly decent.

Author: Élodie Noël

Élodie is a French journalist who relocated to Dublin about three years ago. She immediately fell in love with the island and its amazing food and has been writing about it on her blog Lemon Lipstick

You can follow Élodie's food adventures on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr.