After reading a few rave reviews of the new restaurant Brasserie Rosie before France went into lockdown in March, I had to wait until last week (when restaurants were finally allowed to reopen) to go there. What a pleasure to meet friends Carolyn and Liz in the flesh rather than on a computer screen!
Brasserie Rosie is meant to be a modern-day brasserie along the lines of Bouillon Pigalle – big, cheap and cheerful – but I found it to be rather more like a formal restaurant.
It is indeed big, however, and divided into three very different dining rooms. To my great delight, the front room had rows of spacious booths. I don’t know why, but I love booths; maybe they remind me of the diners of my youth, or maybe it’s because they form cozy little islands in a restaurant.
The room in the back was wonderfully decorated with dozens of chandeliers, banquettes and wooden tables. Off to the side was another large room with a completely different decor and ambiance.
Like all Paris restaurants hoping to attract a youthful crowd, Rosie has a cocktail list. To celebrate our reunion, we tried the génépi (an herb-based liqueur made in the Alps) and tonic. It was a bit too sweet for my taste, but the sprigs of fresh thyme were a nice touch.
Rosie doesn’t offer the traditional long list of brasserie dishes but a limited selection of starters, main courses and desserts.
As a first course, two of us had the delicious chickpea salad with peperonata (a bell-pepper-based preparation), whose sauce made a lovely complement to the mashed chickpeas with crunchy bits for texture. Half a soft-boiled egg was added for good measure.
We then moved on to a pithiviers (a sort of turnover) with a puff-pastry crust filled with pigeon breast and free-range pork from Brittany, with a slice of foie gras (unmentioned on the menu) thrown on top as a bonus and a side of gravy, slightly too salty, but an excellent accompaniment to the rich, meaty dish. While not as exquisite as the pithiviers we had not long ago at Pantagruel, it was satisfying and flavorful. The salad that came with it consisted of lettuce and a bit of chopped tomato with a sweetish vinaigrette .
Liz had the magret de canard (duck breast) with puréed squash and celeriac. She pronounced it good but not special. At €14, however, it was certainly a bargain.
We had mixed reactions to the desserts. The cheesecake with a speculoos (spice cookie) base and toasted almonds was excellent, but the tarte Tropézienne, normally a brioche filled with a special mixture of two creams, was a bit disappointing – it was more like pound cake (stale) filled with ordinary whipped cream. Once you’ve had the original, named by Brigitte Bardot in the 1950s in Saint Tropez, you are spoiled.
The young servers were efficient and super-friendly – perhaps a tiny bit too friendly. One of them had worked in America and had that intrusive habit of constantly interrupting to ask how everything was. Still, better that than the classic rude French waiter any day. Another slight drawback was the music – it wasn’t very loud at all, but just loud enough to be noticeable and annoying.
We sat in Brasserie Rosie chatting for almost four hours! The restaurant was (sadly), not at all crowded, and the servers did not encourage us to leave, even though we had long ago stopped ordering food and drink.
The food at Rosie is not haute cuisine, but it’s not meant to be. This is a great place for a pre- or après-concert (the Paris Opera is just down the street) or cinema meal, with plenty of space, good-quality food and prices that can’t be beat in an area that is short on good eateries. And it’s open every day.