1051 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706
Limited hours/days open
We stopped in at 10a on a Thursday (yesterday) and indeed, virtually everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, was sold out. There were two glazed raisin snails and maybe three large fruit tarts left.
The kitchen is small and the owner/chef is having to bake in continuous batches. Nice for freshness, not so great for his health. He’s doing everything and is working like a dog, even with the very limited hours/days open. They are currently looking for help.
Lovely couple, btw; turns out they’re friends of one of our best friends. The Bay Area is a small world indeed, LOL.
Strongly suggest you reserve in advance. Even then, Rotha has trouble fulfilling all orders. We reserved half a dozen croissants from his next batch coming out of the oven in 30 min. When we returned, they remarked that ours was one of two pre-orders, and they were simply unable to fulfill the other one - had to refund the $$.
We judge French patisserieres by their plain croissants. No butter or jam, just eating them “as is.” Only the very best ones can pass this kind of test; no bready brioche/sandwich style croissants need apply.
Rotha croissants have a different taste than our gold standard, Parker-Lusseau/Monterey. But they are equally as good, just differing in style. Baked longer, a touch more dense - not sure if that’s due to the tightness of the rolling/folding or perhaps just the size. Rotha croissants are slightly larger than Parker-Lusseau.
Both extremely buttery, with high quality cultured sweet butter. PL croissants have a sweeter profile (not from sugar; M. Lusseau just uses less salt than everybody else seems to). The crust on R has a very slight but not unpleasant saltiness with the crumb having the same lovely sweet butter taste as the PL.
My guess is it’s the longer baking: the deeper caramelization of the natural sugars on the outside crust lessens the sweetness. One sees this when making Vietnamese sugar syrup for cooking: if you cook it to a rich dark caramel it is much less sweet to the tongue than if you stop cooking when it’s a light or medium amber color.
We also tried the Fournee Bakery/Berkeley croissant against the PL and Rotha. The FB is good, but much less buttery. It’s noticeable vs the other two. It’s similar to Patisserie Angelica’s croissant in Sebastopol. FB and PA are what we rank as very good, but not A+ level like the Parker-Lusseau and Rotha.
All four bakeries, however, make their dough the traditional way (all are certified master French patissiers). If you pull at the crust, rather than just breaking off, the croissant will unravel like a spool of thread. I’ve pulled a Parker Lusseau croissant into a 2’ long strip before I finally tore it off.