First Look: Bread Furst in Van Ness/Forest Park

By Olga Boikess  |  May 7, 2014
Credit: Courtesy of Bread Furst

Nationally respected chef and baker Mark Furstenberg’s much-anticipated Bread Furst, a neighborhood bakery, cafe and market on Connecticut Ave. NW near the Van Ness Metro stop, opened this week. He says that he wants to create a neighborhood fixture like the original Marvelous Market, which he founded in 1990 (subsequently it was expanded, sold and is now closed). So far, it looks like he is on the right track - this place has been hopping since hour one.

The Talent: Visitors can taste the work of some of the area’s top baking and cooking talents. Ben Arnold (formerly at Range and Society Fair) heads the day-to-day bread team and pastry guru Jack Reville left the White House kitchens to work here. As for Furstenberg, besides his role in crafting the artisan breads, you’ll find his flavor forward, Mediterranean, Asian and African bent reflected in the soups, salads, sandwiches and take-home dinner entrees.

The Look: A see-in bread kitchen, with its artisan display at the entrance, and a picture-perfect pastry line-up on the marble topped service counter are sure to whet appetites. A handful of high-tops hug a white-washed brick wall where food stuffs for sale are displayed on rustic boards. What’s more - all the cooking stations have windows. A child’s corner, with coloring books, adds to the neighborly feel.

The Bakery: Crusty rustic loaves (have them slice off a chunk), baguettes, chewy Montreal-style bagels, bialys, English muffins croissants, scones, housemade donuts, classic cookies and pies - and much more - emerge fresh from the ovens all day. Look for breads featuring whole and ancient grains, flatbreads and Furstenberg’s renowned Palladin ciabatta. .

The Food: Sandwiches like a harissa chicken with chickpea spread or roast beef with spicy slaw come on freshly-baked breads like ciabatta rolls and corn rye. Take-home dinner entrees include the likes of Greek shepherd’s pie with lamb, mejadra - Arabic lentils and rice with eggplant - and a spicy fisherman’s stew. At breakfast, there’s a hearty grits cup with organic egg, sausage and greens.

The Drink: The barista crafts Madcap Coffee Co. drinks, and there area also fanciful takes on the NY classic egg creams, housemade sodas, lemonade and teas.

The Market: Besides the breads, pastries, and prepared foods, there's an ample selection of cheese and charcuterie, plus products from local and international producers.

4434 Connecticut Ave. NW;  202-765-1200