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Chocolate café offers more than chocolate

Rose's BonBon Bistro and Sweet Shoppe in Gresham has bistro-style dining
by: Jim Clark Members of the Rose family from Rose’s BonBon include (from left) Lori, Larry and Michelle. Not pictured is son Dave.

In French, the phrase 'C'est bon,' refers to something good.

If gourmet chocolate, homemade pastries and a selection of nostalgic candy are your weaknesses, then Rose's BonBon Bistro and Sweet Shoppe in downtown Gresham is 'C'est bon.'

'Our concept is to combine chocolate and food,' said Larry Rose, owner of the recently opened eatery and confectionary shop. 'Chocolate cafés on the west coast are mostly chocolate sweets, but no food. On the East Coast, (chocolate cafés) have food but no chocolate. We combined the two. We don't know of any other chocolate café around here that has retro candy, food and gourmet chocolate.'

Rose's BonBon is an American take on European-style bistro dining, where good espresso is often accompanied by a fresh fruit crepe or croissant sandwich. With its trendy brown and yellow décor and comfortable atmosphere, the café brings a different twist to enjoying conversation over a latte with friends. It's waffles, paninis, fondue and chocolate to die for.

Larry and wife, Michelle, are no rookies to the restaurant industry. Michelle co-owned Rose and Gales Café in Clackamas in the 1980s, applying her culinary training to a menu of homemade soups and pastries. From 2004 to 2008, Larry and Michelle served traditional Italian cuisine at Roseone's Italian Dining in Sandy, and briefly ran the Blackberry Café in Welches. Their latest venture is a family operation, including son Dave, who works with candy vendors, and daughter Lori, who assists Michelle in the tidy kitchen.

What sets the café apart is the menu of mouth-watering freshly made bistro fare. Lightly toasted crepes filled with fresh fruit, dessert waffles and chocolate fondue mix well with the selection of Longbottom Coffee and espresso. Everything is fresh and made to order.

'I enjoy cooking, and (downtown Gresham) is a great environment for the European flair with lighter meals,' Michelle said. 'We make our own soups, croissants, crepes, waffles, quiches and brownies. And we dip just about everything in chocolate right here on-site.'

Yes, the chocolate. Rose's BonBon carries more than a dozen varieties of fine chocolates from Northwest artisans as well as selections from Belgium, Holland and Germany. There's even an assortment of chocolates using only natural sweeteners and organic ingredients for those with allergies or medical restrictions.

But Rose's BonBon is also a source for local chocoholics desiring more than grocery store quality. The café offers samples of different chocolates to introduce new taste sensations and provides tips on more creative ways to indulge.

'A lot of people who come in are looking for a more distinguishable taste,' Dave said. 'A higher quality chocolate to pair with wine for a sampling or with fruit and cheese. We can give them suggestions for something like that.'

And if a bite-size fix is more your speed, Rose's BonBon does indeed dip just about in chocolate - fruit, cookies, candy and bacon.

Bacon?

'It's been unbelievable,' Larry said. 'We had bacon bars when we opened March 10, but they sold out in the first three days. So we decided to dip it ourselves. We make it every day, and it usually sells out by noon.'

In addition to the specialty chocolates, Rose's BonBon also has an extensive offering of retro-style candy such as all-day suckers, Bazooka bubble gum and Pop Rocks. Custom orders for candy bouquets can be made for any occasion and are packaged in old-school containers.

Larry and Michelle credit recent business growth in the downtown core area as part of their attraction in opening a new restaurant. Like several new merchants, the couple participated in the city of Gresham's Garage to Storefront Program, where permit fees are waived to encourage new business expansion.

Finding a niche in an area already dotted with eateries and coffee houses was a challenge for Larry and Michelle. But Rose's BonBon, they said, complements the surrounding diverse dining choices with its unique menu and atmosphere.

'We wanted a new approach to the small European café, where people sit and socialize for a while,' Michelle said. 'It's about community for us, and we've always had a love affair with Main (Avenue). We're glad to be here.'

Details

Who: Rose's BonBon Chocolate Café and Sweet Shoppe

Where: 331 N. Main Ave., Gresham

What: homemade crepes, waffles, panini and croissant sandwiches, soups, quiche and pastries. Nostalgic candy and gourmet chocolate. Custom-ordered candy bouquets and special occasion floral arrangements are also available.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

More info: Call 503-927-8020 or visit the café's Facebook page, rosesbonbon.




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