By Ryan LaRosa
Boston is home to a wide variety of specialty coffee shops and roasters. In recent years, the scene has grown across the city, with some older shops expanding to multiple locations and new shops popping up quickly. Here at Boston University, Starbucks is a mainstay, with many locations across campus. While convenient, there’s so much more to coffee than Starbucks. Whenever you have a second, take the opportunity to venture away from campus and enjoy one of Boston’s many great coffee shops.
Rochambeau is a restaurant and café occupying the space that was formerly Towne Stove and Spirits directly next to the Prudential Center on Boylston Street. They celebrated their grand opening just two weeks ago on Oct. 7.
Rochambeau is broken down into two almost completely separate spaces: a restaurant and bar space and a café space. The restaurant and bar offer a full service, upscale French dining experience as well as craft cocktails and globally sourced wine. This review will focus on the café portion of Rochambeau.
Rochambeau’s culinary program is headed by Boston French food veteran Nick Calias who was executive chef at Brasserie Jo for 12 years. Joining him as Rochambeau’s head chef is Matt Gaudet who worked under Calias previously and was awarded Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs award for his now closed West Bridge restaurant in Cambridge.
Along with the culinary clout brought by these two chefs, Rochambeau is backed by the Lyon’s management group that has been running successful ventures in the area for years, including the nearby Sonsie and Back Bay Social Club.
With a winning recipe, it should not come as a surprise that my first experience at Rochambeau’s café was a good one. They brew exclusively La Colombe beans, serve freshly baked pastries as well as sandwiches and light fare from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Their food menu runs the gamut from French classics like the jambon fromage to unique creations like the pastrami salmon bagel sandwich.
The café also offers a selection of salads and desserts. Highlights would include the Paris-Brest, a dessert consisting of circular choux pastry filled with Bavarian cream — a must try if you’re in the café looking for a classic French dessert. The pastry selection doesn’t disappoint, featuring deliciously crisp and buttery croissants, pan au chocolate and tarts.
As far as coffee is concerned, the Rochambeau café is no slouch. They put out excellent strong espresso shots as well as expertly crafted cortados and lattes. Don’t overlook their tea selection either, especially the on tap iced tea selection. The hibiscus iced tea was especially delicious, with a crisp refreshing bitterness. Whatever your caffeine needs may be, Rochambeau delivers classic, delicious coffee and tea that are sure to satisfy.
The Rochambeau café space is beautifully designed with a decidedly retro vibe. The comfortable seating and relaxed atmosphere certainly lends itself to staying a while and relaxing or studying. There is ample seating for up to 60 persons in the café, and it is nice to see a new café or coffee shop really focusing on having enough seating to feel comfortable staying a while.
There is certainly a winning combination at Rochambeau: a European style café featuring delicious food, pastries and fresh rich coffee in a comfortable, beautiful space.