(Update - Jennifer at the French Rose Bakery has now opened a bakery/sandwich shop in downtown Davenport. Click here to read about it.)
One of my worst guilty pleasures in my world is a bakery called the French Rose Bakery. They don't really have a retail location as they sell their goods at one of the Farmer's Markets we go to nearly every Saturday here in Davenport. And while they don't have a retail location, they are looking to move into one. And the bad thing about it, it's not very far from our house.
Cindy found out about the French Rose Bakery a couple years ago and she had an assortment of cinnamon rolls, eclairs, beignets and croissants delivered to our house for my birthday. From the first bite of the maple eclair, I was in ecstasy. By the end of the day, Cindy, her kids and I were fighting over the remaining maple eclairs.
Then when I tried one of the French Rose Bakery cinnamon rolls, I went straight to heaven. It was one of the best cinnamon rolls I've ever had in my life. And just like finding a good burger, finding a good cinnamon roll is one of my life goals. The French Rose Bakery uses nutmeg in the cream cheese frosting on the cinnamon rolls. They're big and chewy, and there's ample amounts of cinnamon in the roll. There's three or four restaurants and/or bakeries around the Quad Cities all well known for their cinnamon rolls. But the French Rose Bakery is head and shoulders above 'em all.
And their croissants are so light, flaky and flavorful that I would have thought they were made in France. The first time I tried one of her croissants, I told Cindy, "This is unbelievable! This is EXACTLY how the croissants in France taste!" I have never come close to experiencing a croissant in the U.S or Canada as good as the one from the French Rose Bakery.
The proprietor of the French Rose Bakery is a 20-something young lady by the name of Jennifer Ewert (right). I've met her a couple times and she's a great kid. Jennifer studied as a pastry chef at The French Pastry School in Chicago. She grew up on the west side of Davenport and she uses an addition onto her parents home as her bakery. Her mother, Mary, and father, Gary, help her out at the Farmer's Market in the parking lot at NorthPark Mall. They're really great people.
Jennifer tried selling some of her pastries at a local gift store, but that experiment ended after a few weeks. She would invariably run out of pastries, disappointing dozens of people - like me - who would stop in to pick something up. Her mother told me earlier this spring that they really needed to have a place where she could bake and sell her good tasting stuff. The last I heard, she was looking at a store front in a strip mall about a mile from our house. That's not good, especially for my diet.
Actually, the French Rose Bakery was probably responsible for a 10 to 15 pound increase in my weight over the past couple of years. At least, that's what I accuse them of doing to me. But now that I'm on a diet, I have to show restraint when I walk past their booth at the Farmer's Market at NorthPark Mall. But those maple eclairs keep calling me and calling me!
A couple three weeks ago, Cindy was out of town for the day. But she told me to go up and get a half-dozen maple eclairs at the Farmer's Market from the French Rose Bakery. She wanted to take some to work with her to show some people how good they were. When I got up there, a lady I didn't recognize was running the stand. I asked if they had any maple eclairs and she said, "No, I'm sorry. She ran out of them at 3 a.m."
I was kind of perplexed - she ran out of them at 3 a.m.? Now, I know her eclairs are great, but running out of them at 3 a.m.? What did she do? Go hang out outside of the bars in the District of Rock Island and sell eclairs to the drunks walking by on their way home? (Actually, that doesn't sound like a bad marketing idea.)
Instead, I got a cinnamon roll (and showing restraint, I cut the roll into thirds and ate those portions three mornings in a row). I walked away and as I was nearing my car, I heard Mary Ewert calling for me. She said, "I'm sorry, I can't remember your name, but you come here all the time."
And then she began to PROFUSELY apologize for not having maple eclairs this morning. It turned out that Jennifer had a big order of eclairs for another function and she ran out of maple flavoring for the frosting at 3 a.m. Oh, OK.
Mary said, "But come back next week and we'll have more!"
Now, that illustrates how nice of people the Ewert's are. She didn't have to come running after me to tell me WHY they'd run out of maple eclairs. They were out of them, end of story. But Mary went out of her way to track me down to apologize and explain herself. Good people.
Cindy and I went back the next week to pick up some assorted things for her dad's lady-friend's birthday the next day. The weather was cold and blustery. There were about 50% less vendors at The Farmer's Market at NorthPark that day. And the French Rose Bakery was one of the no-shows. I didn't blame 'em.
In addition to her great croissants, cinnamon rolls, eclairs and beignets, Jennifer also has a full menu of cookies, cakes, brownies, dessert trays and cream puffs. Her mother told us that she hoped to be able to expand her offerings when she moves into the retail space. Boy, I think she has a lot to offer now!
But for now, Jennifer only sells selected items at The Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings, or they'll deliver to your home or business (in the Quad Cities only) for a $50 minimum order. I know once she opens her retail bakery location, her business is just going to take off. She's a little higher priced than some of the other bakeries around. But the difference in taste and quality versus those other places is why The French Rose Bakery is a little more expensive.
Man, I have GOT to quit writing these blog entries on an empty stomach!
(Update - Unfortunately, Jennifer has not only quit selling on Saturday's at the Farmer's Market, but never realized her dream to open her own bakery. While part of me is sad for her, another part of me completely misses those cinnamon rolls and maple eclairs. I don't know if she's still doing any baking as her web site is down, as well. Oh, well. I'd probably be over 400 lbs. if she was still baking.)
(Update May 2016 - We had heard that Jennifer was going to be opening a small shop in downtown Davenport sometime soon. I got a message from her in the comments section that said she would be open sometime in June. We'll let you know.)