They’re lucky the food’s good.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, exactly, when I went to Rose Bakery for brunch a few Sundays ago. Other than visions of sticky toffee puddings and Neal’s Yard cheeses, neither of which featured on the brunch menu, I guess I thought it would be an English tea room of the cozy, quaint sort. I was wrong.
The front of the shop features a bakery case, a small refrigerated case with cheeses (no Stichelton, though, sniff) and English beers, a few English pantry items, and crates of organic vegetables piled up around the perimeter. There’s a rather disorganized line of people, some waiting to make purchases, some paying for their meals, and some (like us) waiting for a table. Fortunately, as a party of two, Nick and I didn’t have to wait long.
We were seated in the back dining room, a room whose decor left me puzzled. Concrete floors, a bright orange Smeg refrigerator, flourescent lights hanging vertically on the walls… it was certainly more post-modern/poor man’s Dan Flavin than I had imagined. The menu was equally minimal. Bacon and eggs, salmon and eggs, savory tart of the day, coffee, tea. And on the expensive side. I have a hard time justifying paying 15 euros for simple, easy-for-me-to-make-at-home breakfast dishes like these, or 4.50 for a cup of tea, even if it is really good tea. Nick and I both ended up ordering the cheese scone with scrambled eggs and braised endives, because they were out of the savory tart, and I wanted something I couldn’t whip up myself in five minutes. Nick also ordered a coffee, and I splurged on a tea.
The coffee was served in a homey-yet-modern ceramic mug, and came with a cute little shortbread cookie. I eyed it hungrily and a bit jealously, as my tea had yet to arrive. Nick said that the coffee was good.
Next came the bread board, a welcome surprise. The bread was chewy and flavorful, with a crispy, deeply browned crust that gave the whole a slightly nutty taste. It was served with good butter (but then, what butter in France isn’t?) and I was glad to have something to nibble on while I waited for my meal.
I guess it was here that the service missteps started to become glaringly obvious. The place had no more than ten tables, and I counted no less than five servers, and yet everyone seemed to be running around like they had way too much to do. There was some mix-up with the table numbers, and people kept bringing us things that were intended for the table next to us. At one point, a server asked a customer to help move the aforementioned fridge to accommodate a new party who ended up being reseated later. That tea I ordered? Never came. It was, by all accounts, a train wreck.
But like I said before, the food is good. Quite good. The scone was savory, buttery, and rich, with flavors of tangy cheese and fresh herbs. It sandwiched some of the most perfect scrambled eggs I’ve ever had in a restaurant. (I have strong opinions about scrambled eggs.) The endives provided a nice, bitter counterpoint to the creamy eggs, and the green salad on the side tasted lively and fresh. (It was topped with sprouted mung beans, which prompted a “damn hippies” from me, but they were actually pretty tasty. I’d eat them again.) It was a surprisingly hearty, filling meal, perfect fuel for a rainy Sunday in the nearby Gustave Moreau museum.
Would I go back though? Probably not to sit and eat. I will, however, be back for incomparable English cheddar, Samuel Smith’s beer, and probably a few of the homestyle pastries. To go.
On this day in 2009 (well, almost, but it’s pertinent): Thanksgiving Menu Plan
Originally published on Croque-Camille.