Rose’s Garden Cafe – Garden Valley

“Anybody who doesn’t think that the best hamburger place in the world is in his home town is a sissy.”

— Calvin Trillin


Rose’s Garden Café

I recently received a note from John Anderson, who with his wife Rosie, own Rose’s Garden Café in Garden Valley. They wanted to let me know that they will soon be celebrating 10 years in business. Well, since I had never been there, I took the opportunity to stop by.

“You can’t miss us,” John told me on the phone. “We are near the Garden Valley Grange and there is a big sign out front that says, ‘Real Estate.’” No, he wasn’t kidding.

I drove up and parked in front of the building at 4916 Marshal Grade in Garden Valley (the real estate office is next door), and was almost immediately greeted by John, who shook my hand even before I got to the door. A few minutes later I got a hug from Rosie.

Rose’s is an old fashioned diner with all kinds of neat pictures on the wall, a place to post your business card and even a group of regulars eating breakfast, drinking coffee and sharing ideas. And everyone greets everyone who walks in and shares lots of hugs. When was the last time you were in a restaurant where people said, “Love you,” to the owners as they left?

The menu is on several large whiteboards, so I will only be able to give you a sampling of what is listed. You will have to check it out yourself.

“We first started serving deli sandwiches, hot dogs and ice cream” said John, and things expanded as customers asked for something different, so the menu just evolved.” Apparently that is why the menu includes items such as Stephanie’s spicy Buffalo chicken sandwich, Ian’s jalapeño pepperjack burger, Margie’s chef’s salad, Johnny’s spicy chicken salad, Erin’s veggie sandwich, Bill’s BLT, Mr. Spencer I and Mr. Spencer II (pastrami and Swiss with lettuce ‘I,’ or coleslaw ‘II’). There is even a “Grizzly burger” named for nearby Golden Sierra High School’s mascot (bacon, onions, barbecue sauce and all the trimmings).

“Our burgers, tri-tip sandwiches and dips, along with the salads are the number one sellers,” said John. “Even though we are known as the ‘home of the flame broiled cheeseburger,’ a lot of people are ordering lighter foods and our salads are very popular.

“Years ago Rosie and I worked for Coherent, a company in Auburn. They started outsourcing and we were laid off. We were making our third generation Scottish shortbread which we sold to local businesses.

“Mochas and More, which had this site, was a customer, but one day we showed up with a delivery and there was a sign that they were closing. Rosie had some restaurant experience, so I looked at her and said, ‘What do you think?’ she said, ‘Let’s do it,’ so, nine and a half years ago, we opened Rose’s Café.

“We call the shortbread  third generation because my Scottish grandfather taught my father how to make it and he taught me (take it from a Scot, it is delicious).

I sampled a lumpia, which they only serve for dinner on the first Friday of each month. It is the Philippine version of a Chinese spring roll, and filled with chicken and vegetables. The shell was very, very thin and it came with two dips: sweet and sour and garlic vinegar. It was great, and I really liked the garlic vinegar sauce. On the same plate Rosie put a piece of fish (cod) that they serve. It had a very thin batter and was moist and delicious. I don’t like the heavy batter found on some fried fish, and this was perfect. John also insisted I also try some of their crinkle-cut fries with the fish. They are proud of them and they were crisp and well done, just the way I like them.

Then I tried a small Oriental salad. Like all their salads, it was made to order. It had lots of fresh vegetables along with tender chicken, chow mein noodles and sliced almonds. It came with two dressings, sesame ginger and honey mustard. It was quite a nice, refreshing meal and it wasn’t a full order.

Even though I was full they insisted I have a hot fudge sundae, with whipped cream, nuts and a cherry. Heavenly. I don’t think anyone has ever turned one of those down.

There are also lunch and dinner specials, a kids menu, coffee and coffee drinks, milkshakes and even a video game that plays Frogger and Ms Pacman.

You will have to check Rose’s out yourself. They are nice friendly people (you will probably get a hug from someone). By the way, if the name John Anderson seems familiar to you, John’s father owned Hangtown Ski Hut and John grew up in Diamond Springs.

Rose’s Café is open from 9:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. It is closed Sunday and Monday. For more information or if you want to try and make a reservation for the lumpia on the first Friday in August — it always sells out — call 530-333-9900.

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