Theoretically, Rose Bakery and the new store City Organic should not be in competition. I was really excited recently when I saw that the owners of Rose Bakery had gone into business with another couple to open a proper organic supermarket in Paris. I love Rose Bakery. In addition to imaginative salads and quiches, delicious English sweets (ooh, carrot cake! treacle pudding!) and such freshly made delights, Rose Bakery has a small section set aside for the selling of great organic foods. Specifically, Rose Bakery sells Neal's Yard organic cheeses. As everyone knows (or at least every reader of the Observer) Neal's Yard sells the best English cheeses in the world.
So, as I say, Rose Bakery should not be in competition with City Organic. They should be two perfect halves of a wonderful whole. They should.
On my birthday I made a trek to check out the new store, my brand new birthday camera in hand. First I went to Rose Bakery and bought myself this gorgeous piece of quiche and a tomato and avocado salad. I didn't bother asking for cheese because the lunch time crowd was impatient and I'm a thoughtful person. In any case, I was going to visit foodie mecca around the corner: City Organic.
A few days before I had asked Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini what she thought of the place. Her opinoin could be summed up in one word: meh. Okay, French people don't actually say "meh"; people like Barrett do. But if she was in the habit, that's what she would have said.
And she was so right. It's hard to define what's wrong, what's so unwelcoming about the store. On the outside, it definitely wins over Rose Bakery, which is difficult to find even armed with the address. (I noticed a comment on Clotilde's site a while back by a reader who had been unable to find Rose Bakery even though he was in the right street and knew the number!) But once you enter the shop it looks a little barren and ground floor section doesn't actually have much to draw you in and make you want to shop. Down some narrow stairs you see the main part of the shop but it looks more like your grandmother's larder than a grocery store. The shelves are deep and far apart and it's very difficult to see any logic in the arrangement of products. Okay, I told myself, they are a little amateurish, they are experiencing a few teething problems. I can handle that.
I made my way over to the fresh foods section, eagerly searching for the cheese manna, Neal's Yard cheeses. After a bit of searching (why did it seem everything was difficult to find in this shop?) I found some pre-packaged cheeses from another organic supplier. No Neal's Yard. Disappointed, I approached the young woman discussing product arrangement with another fellow and asked if they had le fromage de Neal's Yard? Non. Did they anticipate stocking this wonderful cheese in the future? With a wrinkled nose (perhaps I was not the first to ask this question?) she again said Non. Cheese à la coupe (cut to order) was too much trouble for a grocery store. In a place like Rose Bakery they had the leisure to serve customers to order, but not here.
And so I made my way to the till with my cheeses (by now I didn't have time to go back to Rose Bakery for the real stuff), some carrots, some organic rice cereal for the kid and paid up. When I got home, I discovered the Wensleydale cheese was nearly two weeks out of date.
Thank heavens Rose Bakery has not discontinued its small organic foods section. I may give City Organic another try in six months or so just to see how they are getting on. But I'll be buying my cheese, my organic cider, my Green and Black's Organic Hot chocolate at Rose Bakery first. I'm not going to make the same mistake twice!
46, rue des Martyrs
01 42 82 12 80
10, rue Milton
01 48 78 29 50