A little bit of Paris has come to Rumson. This past July, The French Market opened in Rumson, New Jersey […]
A little bit of Paris has come to Rumson. This past July, The French Market opened in Rumson, New Jersey in the 550 square foot space formerly occupied by Le Bon Panier. It has been busy from day one. People coming in and out, leaving with multiple bags or sitting at the quaint tables from morning until 7pm. Once you visit The French Market, you’ll see why. I had the opportunity to interview Carli Windsor, the creator and chief visionaire behind The French Market. To say she is charming is an understatement. Fortunately for us, The French Market is Carli’s baby and her personality and vision permeates the whole place – charming, kind, sweet, lovely, interesting, smart, bubbly and sophisticated. It is no wonder that The French Market has such a warm, inviting environment. Carli bestowed upon me a chocolate croissant, 3 truffles and a salad. I couldn’t have asked for a better meal. Previously, I had a Fresh Burrata and Fig Jam on Cranberry Walnut Bread sandwich. It was sandwich perfection. I think the chocolate croissant was beyond perfection. I have a feeling everything on their menu is droolworthy, but you’ll have to go see and taste for yourself! Let me know what your favorites are from The French Market in the comments below. To learn how the French Market came to be, please see our interview below:
1. Please tell us how The French Market came to be?
It was 7 months ago now while sitting at dinner with our long-time friends Robert Smith, a Design Professional and Plant Expert and his wife Pam Best, a Fashion Buyer discussing ideas for my venture, that I happened to mention that the charming but dilapidated spot at 114 East River road was up for rent (I should mention here, that at this point I had not yet considered the diminutive space on River Road but had entered into negotiations to secure a much larger space in town). Our friends then began reminiscing about its past as Le Bon Panier (which my husband and I had been unaware of) and then all of a sudden it hit us: this could be the perfect spot. We discussed it a bit further over drinks and by the next day our partnership was born. Within the week, we headed to Staten Island to recruit Laurent. It was in the following weeks that Robert put his design expertise to work transforming the vision from concept to reality. And here we find ourselves.
2. Your aesthetic is very special – please tell us more about it, and your past design experiences and background
The French Market is the realization of a lifetime of absorbing, collecting and cultivating the things, ideas and tastes that strike a chord in me. It is my attempt to surround myself with things that somehow fulfill that feeling of longing or that ineffable pang of desire that all creative and sensitive people know and to communicate this experience with others.
It is though, only the latest and most ambitious of my attempts to find the right creative outlet to communicate my vision and aesthetic. My prior decorating or design experience consisted of the creation of my own home décor line Pari Passu, the constant reimagining and repopulating of my own home with new finds as well as the education I gained by accompanying and partnering with my husband and father-in-law in the family art and antiques business.
3. How did you find your chef?
My husband and I discovered our chef Laurent about 8 years ago in his little café, The French Tart, in Staten Island. It quickly became our favorite “date night “ spot where we would regularly uncork a bottle of our favorite bubbly and enjoy his fabulous French fare. It having long been a dream of mine to open a French inspired café/bistro flower gift shop, I repeatedly told Laurent “one day, Laurent, I’m going to find the perfect place to make my vision a reality and I’m going to take you along with me!” His reaction year after year was a doubtful but good-natured “sure just let me know.” So when we finally approached him a few months ago all ready to go ahead with our long conceived vision he was, I think he’d admit, a bit surprised but readily signed on to the venture as our chef.
4. What baked goods are made on the premises?
All of our baked goods are prepared and baked fresh daily by Chef Laurent, with our baguettes and other breads coming fresh out of the oven at least 3 times per day. All of our items” our crepes, sandwiches, salads, wonderful selection of cheeses and pates have been very well received but one stand out favorite that comes to mind is Laurent’s almond croissant which, a couple of years ago, gained esteem by being voted #1 croissant in New York by the New York Daily News!
5. The size of The French Market is small, almost tiny; do you have any plans for expansion in the future?
We enter the fall season actively preparing phase two of our vision which involves opening the attached greenhouse portion of The French Market. This will enable us to expand our aesthetic from the front café into the rear greenhouse. Here Robert Smith’s expert garden design will be highlighted along with my own beautifully curated selection of eclectic home décor and gifts.