I like to think I discovered Rose Bakery before just about anyone else. When I worked for the Time Out guides our office was just down the street from this Anglo-French café in rue des Martyrs and I soon became devoted to its crunchy salads, towering carrot cake and square quiches with the extraordinarily flaky crust. Only after a year or so did I realize that I was not the only one who thought Rose Bakery was one of the best places on Earth. People as dependent as me were bursting into tears when the carrot salad ran out (where do they find such deep orange carrots?) or if sticky toffee pudding was not in the day's display of desserts. On weekends the line-up for brunch sometimes stretched out the door, despite the army of energetic young staff in the dining room.
After Time Out closed its doors I stopped coming to Rose Bakery so often, though I continued to make the occasional pilgrimage and consoled myself by cooking from their beautiful book. By now it had become official bobo (bohemian bourgeois) headquarters and I started thinking that it may have become too fashionable. But, when I heard that South African-born Rose and her French partner Jean-Charles were opening a second location in the northern Marais, I couldn't help but feel excited. Yesterday I braved the icy cold (it was minus 6 Celsius) to see if the new Rose Bakery had the magic that I remembered.
I walked past the discreet but very pretty entrance once without noticing it, then pushed the steamed-up door to find a dining room similar to the one in rue des Martyrs: white and rather sparse, but somehow very warm. There was the same display of cakes and salads at the front, British food products lining the shelves - I couldn't leave without some Green & Black organic chocolate - but here there is also an open kitchen at the back. Like me, many of the people here looked very happy eating on their own.
Having consumed a rich bistro meal the night before, I was craving the vegetable plate. It seemed a little more expensive than what I remembered at €12.50, but I couldn't find fault with the assortment of salads and roasted vegetables that arrived. Best were the roasted carrots, sweet potatoes and salsify - someone had gone to the trouble of preparing this difficult black root! - but there was also rice salad with lentils, cherry tomatoes with fennel and (surprisingly) grilled avocado, very thin green beans with peanut dressing, and the famed carrot salad in lemony dressing with toasted sunflower seeds. I make it all the time at home, but still appreciated it here.
Carrot cake, crumble and lemon tart looked as tempting as ever, but this being the Epiphany I decided to taste Rose's pistachio galette des rois, which I shared later with my parents. This puff pastry cake filled with frangipane is hard to pull off because of the essentially heavy nature of its ingredients. Puffy and not too sweet, this was one of the best galettes I had tasted (but where was the fève, the little porcelain figure that is meant to be tucked inside?).
Rose Bakery isn't cheap - the freshly squeezed juices cost €6.50 - but for €17 with a pot of Samourai tea I was amply satisfied and left feeling three times as healthy as when I arrived (that was before I ate the galette). I can't help but feel that the pottery from Norfolk has much to do with the pleasure I take in eating here; somehow it made the green tea with ginger taste astonishingly good. My sister happens to live in Norfolk, so I'll see if I can prove this theory by buying a few of these dishes for myself.