R O G G E N A R T
After some serious sleuthing, I've figured out that this is actually a franchised location. From Serbia. Which is so wild to me because on the brands Instagram account, it says "Belgrade, Novi Sad & Baltimore". Seems like the right next step right in locating the next best place to open up. I'm not complaining though, this place is awesome.
It is eccentric, so if you are looking for a Starbucks or Corner Bakery look-a-like, this isn't for you. We got in around 9:00AM on a Sunday, and it was the right amount of busy for being a small café. It smells of flour and bread as soon as you walk in and a glass roof which houses loads of different pastries and breads to choose from to either enjoy at the 5-6 tables in the cafe or take home in the usual white paper bakery bag.
I had a chance to sit down with the manager and he let me in on some secrets of this Austrian find. There are actually a lot of stores overseas in Austria, Belgrade, and across Europe. 18 to be exact. My first question for him was, why Baltimore? Not that Baltimore isn't a great choice, but if I was in that position I would be more influenced to look at the bigger more well known cities in the US. He told me that the owners family lives in Vienna, Virginia and they had first looked at DC but later decided that Baltimore would be a better fit due to the demographics and how quickly the food scene is making a name for itself around the country. The owner is always traveling between the states and Europe, and he is due back for a visit soon. A few customers behind the table I was sitting at had noticed I was writing a post and inquired. Turns out, the husband is a native Austrian and was very pleasantly surprised at how authentic the pastries and breads were to where he grew up. So, if you didn't trust my opinion, at least trust his.
John, the manager who took the time to sit down with me is a Baltimore native. He grew up in Columbia and has been working around the Roland Park/Hampden area for a few years now. He recently spent a lot of time in Europe and formed a huge liking to Austrian rye bread and when he saw a sign for with a huge piece of rye bread and was instantly drawn in. He had hung around the cafe for long enough that the owners decided to offer him a place to work and he accepted on the spot. Its been history since. From the opening in May of 2017, they have only grown since then and have drawn in customers from all over the area, but mostly concentrated in the Roland Park area.
I do want to take a second to and pay homage to the baker in the Baltimore location. Bora. Just one name, kind of like Madonna. He is rarely seen walking around the bakery but you will know its him from his all white attire and flour covered hands. The more I was talking to John the more I got the feeling that he was one of those master bakers. Could bake anything, and make it into any shape. He grew up in Serbia and has been a part of the company for a while now and was recruited to come over to Charm City to bring his craft to all the local residents. It's only him by the way, he doesn't have any baking assistants or help when he bakes all the goodies overnight, which is pretty amazing to me.
Coffee is big for me, and I always like to enjoy a nice flat white or latte when I am eating some pastries and they didn't disappoint. They use Lavazzo beans, which has never done wrong (to me at least), and John is the barista at the helm. He is a professional milk designer for sure and just overall knows what he is doing behind an espresso bar.
The price is really great, in my opinion. When I go to a place like that, I know how much work and time went into each pastry, so I don't mind paying a little bit more than I would at a Starbucks or some other big corporate store. We got a latte, a cappuccino, and two pastries for about $13. Go to any other competitive coffee shop in the area and I can assure you will be paying the same if not more.
I have high hopes for Roggenart and have a huge feeling that come their year anniversary, they are going to be a household name. Take a trip over now and try and take advantage of their $1 baguette special until September 30th, 2017. Their site is here and you can contact them here with any inquiries.