Culinary and Visual Delights
The French Market, which opened in Rumson in mid July, is wildly successful at capturing a feeling. The building is painted black with white trim and a very memorable striped awning. The stunning interior is bright white, with stone floors, marble counters, exposed beams, and a reclaimed antique door. The aesthetics and careful attention to detail have created a warm and welcoming place. It is a place that doesn’t look like it even belongs in New Jersey, and that is perhaps exactly the point.
The French Market is the result of the coming together of many talented people who each contributed their visions to this group effort. The owners are Carli Windsor, Pamela Best, and Robert Smith, who work in package design, the fashion industry, and interior design, respectively. Although the owners have no formal background in food, their chef, Laurent Chavenet, has over 25 years of experience. Chavenet was born and trained in France and also owns the French Tart in Staten Island.
The menu features crepes (sweet and savory), breakfast sandwiches, panini, salads, quiche, and sandwiches (including French specialities like Croque Monsieur). The bread is baked fresh two to three times daily. They use local ingredients in the kitchen whenever possible.
The market also offers a variety of croissants, tarts, macarons, and other pastries. Additionally, there are plenty of interesting imported packaged foods (including lemonades, mints, and caviar), quality cheeses, coffee, and tea. The homewares on display aren’t merely decorations–they’re for sale, too.
The next phase for the business is to sell fresh flowers and plants as well as to have an expanded homeware and antiques section located in the attached greenhouse. Their goal is to be “a one stop shop for gourmet food and upscale home design gifts, plants, and flowers.” It currently is a wonderful shopping experience, and the future additions will only enhance what’s already available.
When faced with the task of which of their offerings to try, I had a hard time choosing. Everything looked, sounded, and smelled delicious. I was advised to go with the almond croissant, which placed first in a New York Daily News contest in 2013. The pastry did not disappoint–the flavor and texture were both perfect. I also enjoyed an imported sparkling French lemonade. The combination of the food and atmosphere transported me to another place. I haven’t actually ever been to France, but after spending some time at The French Market, I felt a little like I’ve experienced it anyway.