Albany CA: Patisserie Rotha croissants

Patisserie Rotha
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.


Are they doing any better in fulfilling demand in recent weeks? Hoping to drop by and grab some croissants, pastries…

Don’t know if things are getting better. We’ve been busy and just returned from a trip, so haven’t been back to Rotha.

Since we were in Sonoma County we stocked up at Patisserie Angelica and won’t be buying any more carbs for a while, LOL.

Well, Hyperbowler and I didn’t know better and showed up at Rotha after the meal at Wojia. Now I know why you showed up at 10am…

Because they close at noon.

…And that alone is enough! :blush:


Pâtisserie Rotha

This is exactly what a croissant should look like. Pâtisserie Rotha’s croissant ($3.25) has that rich brown color, perfect layers, an outstanding lift from a great proof and a textbook egg wash and shape (minus a slouched nose). This one has a beautiful exterior crispiness with a tender layered crumb inside. It has that classic sweet yeast smell and taste with the ideal amount of butter. Overall, superb flavor. Pâtisserie Rotha , 1051 San Pablo Ave. (between Marin and Dartmouth), Albany

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Thanks for sharing—- that’s like a pocket guide for croissant judging, and has got to be the most disciplined and instructive top 10 list of 2018! The guidance spot on describes the croissants at Neighbor Bakehouse (which I’m more likely to eat at the Mill than in-house). Does anyone disagree with her characterization of what makes a croissant good?

I’ve got to get to Rotha. Fornee is amazing, so I await something even better. I’m surprised/confused Crispian is ranked so high—- on perhaps an off day two or three years ago, I had a rather pedestrian croissant, questioning why I even had the place bookmarked.

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Yes, I disagree with her. Parker-Lusseau is lighter and not so densely layered inside. Its delicacy really makes a difference.

We went down to Monterey and picked up 2 dozen PL croissants on 12/07. Still had 3 Rotha croisants in the freezer, so was able to do a head to head comparison. Rotha was tasty, but stodgy/heavy in comparison to PL. It was almost like there were too many layers of dough. It does make a very fine sandwich croissant.

Fournee and Angelica’s are light, but in a head to head comparison with PL it was because it was obvious they had fewer than the standard 27 layers of folded dough. Fournee and Angelica also had much, much less butter taste than PL or Rotha.

Just FYI: I have not tried them, but a foodie friend of mine who goes periodically to Paris got hooked on the PL croissants when I gave her some a year ago. She went to Arsicault/SF and stood in line for an hour, and said the croissants (heralded by Bon Appetit[?] as the best in the US) were “meh” by Paris and Parker Lusseau standards. She said the PL croissant is still the only one she’s tried that is exactly like the ones she she buys on her Paris trips.

I’ll take her word for it, LOL - it’s bad enough driving to Monterey to buy the PL pastries. Takes more than 3 hrs to get to Paris [grin]!

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PL’s are consistent and wonderful. Ariscault must have a consistency problem—- I’ve had great and meh there, and would definitely not wait more than 5 minutes.

Wow, that doesn’t bode well for Arsicault expanding to a 2nd location!

I should clarify that my meh was a month before they were awarded best croissant, and the problem was that it was over cooked. My better experiences have been more recently, but they’re still not my favorite.

I’m willing to wait in line for certain things, but not croissants—- I’ve recently had Fournée, Tartine Manufactory (too big, and eggy), Neighbor Bakery (at the Mill), and Stonemill Matcha without any wait, and in a few weeks will be visiting Parker Lusseau, where there’s never a line.

[smile] There is sometimes a line at the Hartnell location because it’s so tiny, but it’s rare to see one more than a 2-3 person line at the main location on Munras - and that’s only at absolute peak B/L times!

Thanks for clarifying on Arsicault. I think Fournee was better when it first opened, as were his cakes. We noticed the quality has cheapened quite a bit over time. I don’t think he gets enough foot traffic up there as he expected.