A Taste of France, At Long Last, in Downtown WRJ is a Hit
It's anyone's guess as to what might come along next in downtown White River Junction, but for now the latest and greatest is Café Reneé. With croissants that smack of the texture and tastes of sidewalk cafe fare in Paris, or, for me, The Place Masséna in the heart of Nice with its black & white tiled plaza simply faultless as a place to wander into and relax at any of a number of shopping and dining possibilities.
Croissants So Flaky & Buttery They'll Take You To Another Country
It's not a far stretch (except for the snow and temperatures outside today) to snuggle into one of Cafe Renee's comfy chairs with a hot cup of tea, hot chocolate, or coffee, and imagine you've been magically transported to the Côte d'Azur and Nice along the famous French Riviera. There's no earthly equal to McNamara Dairy milk and Cabot Whipped Cream to make your moment one of sheer pleasure. Here, it's clear that serving local and regional fare is a top priority.
A Floral Bouquet on the Black & White Tile Floor as Memories of Nice Sift Back In
You need not be a Francophile to enjoy this little spot in the heart of downtown White River Junction. It's adjacent and connected to the Hotel Coolidge lobby space, serving hotel patrons and those who walk in off the street with equally capable and friendly service. Janni, the Cafe's proprietress, can be found wearing her signature black beret and a beaming smile as you walk through the door (come in through the hotel lobby entrance). Trust me, the moment you enter, you'll feel like you've stepped into another world. Even the soft, female vocal-laden jazz of France and Brazil that Janni plays will transport you!
Janni seems almost to merge seamlessly with the historic mural that graces the far wall of Café Renée.
Janni has made a full circle back to Vermont after some long years away. Her brother, JY, with whom she was brought up as a twin in foster care many years back, disappeared from Middletown Springs, VT on January 28, 1991. He was a Long Trail volunteer who loved Vermont and helped maintain lean-to's and trails. Janni has written a memoir about her brother that's nearly complete titled Dear J: Siblings Separated in Foster Care as a series of letters she's written to him over the years. And Janni was married in Lyme, NH in 1985 with the wedding party staying at, you guessed it, the Hotel Coolidge. Today, she's right back in WRJ, always holding out hope that this long-unresolved case of her brother's disappearance might somehow magically get solved with her brother walking into the Café asking for a cup of coffee as if nothing had ever happened.
Coffee is on Your Left as You Enter -- Mugs are Up Top and Plenty Large
What can you expect when you walk into Café Renée? A bit of self service to your left with four different flavors of coffee from bold to medium to a flavor of the day to one other that'll be unusual. These are Mountain Grove coffees roasted so 'very far away' in White River Junction, VT! And they're delicious whether you pour yourself a large cup or purchase a fresh-roasted pound to take home with you.
Café Renée's Winter Menu is Yummy (do ask about soup and sandwich specials)
Walk a bit farther around the counter and you'll find fresh-baked croissants, danish, muffins, donuts, breads, cookies, and quiches that are just perfect for your morning delight. Janni will serve these up to you. Oh, and there's Nutella to slather what you wish in the event she's run out of chocolate croissants. When I was there an elderly gentleman from Hanover told me he makes the trip here for croissants and cookies because, to him, they are the best ever. And he should know...he used to cook for hundreds and, in some cases, thousands as a Coast Guard chef who traveled the world. For him, the croissants at Café Renée are the closest to a taste of Paris he'll ever get without making the long trip back across the Pond.
If you're approaching the noon hour, ask Janni about her soup of the day and the daily sandwich special. She also offers up a breakfast sandwich, juices, and some seasonal fruits. Here, you'll also find the most artistic hard-boiled eggs you're likely to find anywhere. Have a look below...
Ever the Artist, Janni Decorates Eggs with Whimsical Flair
That's about all from here. This great winter storm has finally abated a bit, the snowplow guy has arrived, so I'll have to next make my way to WRJ and Café Renée to see what Janni has in store today! Her prices are extremely fair and reasonable, and I'm really pining for a good, warm croissant. If you head out today, drive safely and stay calm. Once you step inside Café Renée, you'll feel better than ever!
Post Script: The cast and crew of Northern Stage have discovered Janni's lovely Café where they dine each morning, as have other local business people who can't seem to get enough of the coffees, quiches and croissants. You'll marvel at the artistic flair Janni brings wherever she goes. (Insider's scoop just in...Janni tells me that although the Café's posted hours are 7 am to noon, she's usually there until about 1 pm, so don't be shy.)
An "Out of the Window" View from Café Renée on Such a Snowy Day
Dave Celone of E. Thetford, VT writes as Poetic Licence for the dailyuv.com. Please offer your comments below to let him know what you think about this article. Do feel free to share this piece on your social media channels and however else you can spread the word. Many thanks!