Bread Furst Now Open in Van Ness – Have a Look Inside and at the Menu

4434 Connecticut Ave, NW

Ed. Note: Just after 9am this morning a reader writes: “Bakery wiped out within an hour of opening. Clearly a much needed addition to the neighborhood.”

Next up in incredible transformations – from Real Estate office to Bakery – Bread Furst is now open in Van Ness:

“Bread Furst is a project many years in the making, and a result of Mark Furstenberg’s relentless pursuit to make the kind of remarkable bread that we often remember and rarely find.

We are a neighborhood bakery where Washingtonians can buy food for daily life or for celebration. At Bread Furst, you can select a beautiful loaf of bread with character, indulge in a slice of delicious pie, order a child’s birthday cake, or pick up freshly prepared foods to be enjoyed at your table or ours.

At Bread Furst we believe in offering delicious, wholesome, well-made breads that uphold hundreds of years of traditional bread baking. Breads made from whole grains and ancient grains. Baguettes baked every four hours, so they can be sold and eaten when they are at their best.

Our pastry kitchen creates American desserts made with an inspired mix of tradition and creativity. We strive to make the desserts you love while enticing you with new and exciting flavors. Come in and enjoy our freshly-prepared croissants, brioche, scones, donuts, and other delicious pastries and desserts.

Bread Furst offers a seasonally driven menu made with locally sourced ingredients. Our soups, salads, sandwiches and prepared dishes focus on bold flavors; influenced by the flavors of the Mediterranean, North Africa, and Asia. We also carry a small, but carefully chosen selection of cheese and charcuterie from our favorite local and international producers.

We are pleased to serve you freshly brewed coffee and espresso from Madcap Coffee Company. Stop by for a hot cup of coffee or a drink from our espresso bar, choose from our wide selection of teas, both caffeinated and herbal, or sample one of our refreshing, house-made sodas.”

Check out their opening menus here.


Lots more photos of the inside after the jump.










The man, Mark Furstenberg, in the middle


46 Comment

  • Definitely need more bakeries in this city. In many european towns there’s one seemingly on every corner. Why the hell we don’t have more I don’t know.

    • @Eckington Chick… not to be snarky BUT in the US (unlike Europe) we have 55,000 sf supermarkets on every other corner… that said, I am all for bringing back good, small local markets… on that front, DC is really on a roll lately.

    • And the sad truth is, even in places like Paris, the bakeries on every corner are often second- or third-tier, selling products prepared at a central bakery or simply finishing dough made elsewhere. Sure, you can find great stuff but it’s like buying a bagel in New York City. Unless you make a little effort to seek out a quality provider, there’s a good chance whatever you pick up at the corner shop will suck.

      • I’m not sure that I’d use Paris as my example of how bakeries in Europe aren’t what they’re cracked up to be. Paris isn’t particularly representative of France or even Europe, in the same way that NYC isn’t particularly representative of the US. I’d point to cities like Lyon, Seville, Strasbourg, Bologna, etc as more representative of european cities. In those cities we see decent bakeries with some regularity, even though they often have large supermarkets on the edge of town and sometimes even in town.

    • He may be self-congratulatory (and certainly his reputation for “prickliness” precedes him), but that article was largely spot on.

    • Sure, he’s full of himself, but is he wrong? Were you eating around DC in the late 80’s/early 90’s? Furstenberg (like Frank Ruta) had a huge hand in putting DC on the culinary map. Sometimes it takes a big ego to the first and best at what you do. His impact on the quality of food in this town cannot be understated.

      • justinbc

        Yes, in many ways he is drastically wrong, and seemingly oblivious. I will admit that DC doesn’t have a long standing tradition of some type of food culture such as New Orleans with Creole cooking, but I also don’t hold that against it now in the way he does. Many of the things that he says DC lacks in terms of specific small vendors (charcuterie, coffee, bread, cheese and ice cream from his article) are here in abundance. You can actually find every single one of those things just at Union Market alone, a building he only even barely acknowledges in passing. OK so he’s upset food costs more here? Guess what, so does housing. Jobs pay more here, so the cost of living goes up accordingly. This doesn’t make DC a bad food town, it makes it an expensive one.

        • where are these ice cream places? I can’t think of one in my neighborhood, or any of the nearby/walkable surrounding areas.

        • maxwell smart

          “Jobs pay more here” Do they? Maybe some jobs do. Personally I think the cost of food here is excessively high for overall fairly poor quality. I usually end up at Whole Foods because the produce at Safeway and Giant is usually going bad. It’s not like this is Hawaii where everything has to be imported in, therefore the cost (and low quality) could be justified.

        • And he points out that with all that spending power, things should be much, much better here. Again, is he wrong? DC does high-end *dining* well, but aside from Union Market (which was in its infancy when he wrote this) where are the centralized places to get top quality products? DC does this very, very poorly. The tide is changing, but he wasn’t wrong to point out that DC doesn’t really give a shit about great product. Not when people with all the spending power are just waiting in lines for 2 hours for mediocre food on 14th street. We DON’T have a market culture here. We just don’t.

          • justinbc

            I hate to break it to you, but waiting in line for new/popular places with mediocre food is not exclusive to DC. In fact they do it just as much, if not more, in his food meccas of NYC, SF, and LA.

          • But NYC, SF, LA, etc. also have an established network of markets and local purveyors that provide for a more robust and varied food scene. Please stop missing the point. I love what DC has become foodwise over the past 10-15 years, but it is undisputed fact that in the non-dining world we are leaps and bounds behind most established cities on the FULL spectrum of product availability.

    • I just read that article, and I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Furstenberg. Maybe he gets it, and you just don’t. He’s been around a lot longer than you have.

      • justinbc

        Maybe he does and maybe I don’t, but I disagree that length of time is somehow relevant to discussing the city in today’s terms.

        • Justin, I feel that much of the backlash to Furstenburg is emotional rather than on the merits of his case. Offering a place like Union Market as a counterpoint really only reinforces his point – the current Union Market actually replaced what was, by some measures, a far more robust food market. There are a smattering of high-end vendors, many of them very good, but it is a dim shadow of a true urban food market. It’s hard to argue against the point of a lack of a native food culture (in fact you don’t) and while it’s getting better, it’s also hard to argue about our lack of high quality, neighborhood food stores, especially specialty shops. I think that the breakaway success of places like Red Hen and Roses are, rather than being evidence of Furstenburg being wrong, evidence supporting his point…that there is a void in really good casual fine dining.

          • justinbc

            The response link I posted may have some emotional discourse in it, but it’s hardly devoid of factual counterpoints. At one point he lists off some 20+ distinct specialty vendors to counter Furstenburg’s absurd claim that they don’t exist. He simply sounds myopic and disgruntled in his ramblings about DC, and doesn’t seem in touch at all with what the city has today. If he wants a cheap city, then he should have moved to Baltimore. DC isn’t going to get any cheaper any time soon, and that fact alone is not an indictment of its food culture.

          • 20+, sure, but dive into them and they get thin, quick. The breads section, for example, offers four suggestions, one of which is Heller’s, which should disqualify him on principle alone. Buzz bakery, also listed under breads, is a sweets bakery, and also doesn’t belong on a “breads” list. Coffee could be another example (and one dear to my heart). Great spots on that list, but any coffee fan who travels about this town will tell you that you’re far more likely to find yourself far from a third-wave shop than close to one.
            At the end of the day, it’s ok to say our scene is lacking. It’s not the same as saying the city sucks, or that there aren’t great places. Sure, he overlooks some, but his points are largely right.

    • What Furstenberg, like everyone else (except you) is saying was spot on in his critique of this city’s food scene. There is very little in the way of good charcuterie – Litteri has some but their selection is limited and is not of high quality (except for their Parma Prosciutto), and other than that, there are few options throughout the city to actually get charcuterie. It’s not something that one should have to trek all the way across town to get. Nice to have the Publican and the place in Union Market, I suppose, but their prices are so outrageous that it would be cheaper to have the exact same thing, in greater quantity, shipped to me from NYC. In fact, ethnic groceries of all kinds are a rarity in DC. Same problem with cheese – the place in Union Market is good though pricey, and Cowgirl is gone. It says a lot about DC’s food scene that I have to go to Whole Foods to find a decent selection of cheese. And good bread in this town is a joke. A few places here and there but again, one would expect to find at least one good bakery in each major neighborhood. Instead, I have to schlep all over the place to find a decent baguette. But at least we aren’t want for cupcakes!
      While we’re on the subject, I might as well elaborate further. Ethnic food here is just pathetic. With the exception of Ethiopian, there is little in the way of good sushi, good Indian, good Chinese, good Mexican, and good SE Asian. A few places here and there but a city with DC’s population really ought to have more of all of that. What exists is decidedly mediocre. And while people line up on 14th street for mediocre food, they line up in NYC, SF, Philly, Chicago, LA, etc for GREAT food. The mediocre restaurants on that strip wouldn’t last 6 months in any of the other cities I mentioned, but DC is such a food desert that they not only survive but they thrive. Things are getting better but this city still has a long way to go.

      • +1. And while we’re on the subject, I’ve got to get something off my chest: I think Litteri’s and The Italian Store are both wildly overrated. Compare them to the italian shops of Brooklyn, Boston, Philly, Providence…and they come up so short. I frequent both of them, but frankly, I wish they would up their game, the Italian Store in particular.

      • justinbc

        It says a lot about your knowledge of DC’s food scene if you think you have to go to Whole Foods in order to find a decent selection of cheese. The fact that chefs from those other cities you’ve mentioned continue to open up restaurants here in DC says a lot about their faith in the dining populace, whether you have any or not.

      • For charcuterie, I’d suggest:

        Jamie Stachowski (Stachowski’s Market)
        Doug Singer (Singer’s Significant Meats)
        Chris Johnson (CuredDC)

        As for bakeries, I have to agree. I wish there were some in my neighborhood – but I end up going to farmers markets which are a godsend:

        Whisked! (they do several markets, but mostly pies and quiches)
        Panorama (they do lots of markets)
        Lyons (all wholesale?)

        Anyway, there are many others (Le Caprice, Sticky Fingers, etc.) sprinkled around.

      • ROFL @ having one good bakery in every neighborhood. In what city is this sustainable or even necessary? Have you heard of public transportation?

      • lovefifteen

        Is it really fair to compare DC to some of the largest and most established cities in the country? Of course DC isn’t going to offer what NYC, LA, SF, and Chicago offer. Those cities have been large, cosmopolitan cities for decades. DC has a smaller population, and the city’s dramatic transformation started less than two decades ago.

        For those of us who moved to DC from “average” American cities, I’d say the food scene here is an improvement. It just strikes me as unfair to trash DC because it’s not NYC or Chicago.

        • +1 the original author sounds like a self hating prick. I bet working for him is miserable.

        • It’s not fair but once DC started to get a reputation for being an up and coming food city, the backlash began in earnest. I grew up in NYC. I’ve had some really good meals there. I have also had some really bad meals there. Most were somewhere in the middle. The idea that NYC (or any other major city for that matter) is a mecca for great food where every hole in the wall offers 4-star meals is a fantasy.
          Also, not everybody wants, needs, or can appreciate a transformative dining experience.

  • Three things I hope come of this: 1) he considers doing some wholesale work, and getting some of his staples (especially hearty loaves and crusty breads) out to the neighborhood markets; 2) he has tremendous success and spawns a half dozen imitators within the next 6-12 months; 3) he opens another store, one closer to the center of the city, as was Marvelous, Breadline, etc.
    I know one thing: I’ll be making weekly trips (by car) to stock up.
    Also: were those bagels I spotted? ZOMG!

    • maxwell smart

      1 thing I hope becomes of this: It does become wildly successful and Van Ness / et upper Connecticut Corridor sees a resurgence and more bars, restaurants, etc. move in.

    • I love bread as much or more that the next person. But trust me, if all of a sudden there is a bakery on every corner all that means is that in one year there’ll be a lot of bank auctions for ovens and mixers.

      Nowadays rent in the city and build-out is just too expensive to sustain very many bakeries. Don’t believe me? Ask Mark how much the build-out cost. $300k, $500k, $1M? Got to sell a lot of bread to get to even.

      • On every corner? Reductio ad absurdu – fun, but useless. No, I said 6. And let’s be more concrete – here are six neighborhoods that could really use a good bakery: U street, 14th street, Columbia Heights (no, Le Caprice isn’t that good), Dupont (no, Firehook isn’t that good), west end, Adams Morgan…

  • I love the location. I can run in there for a loaf of bread while my car is being washed!

  • Why do they spell it “Furst”?

  • Once the novelty starts showing signs of wearing off, and people realize it’s mostly hype, he’ll sell it off and let it continue to run itself into the ground. After all, baking really good bread isn’t some kind of mystery, it’s just very hands-on and time consuming. There simply aren’t enough people willing to put the energy into it anymore.

  • interesting location. wonder if there will be tension with the neighoring car wash if they go for an outdoor patio.

    Breadline was never the same once he left. I always liked his prickly presence there. He’s actually very nice but seemed to have a low threshold for customer BS like petty complaints, unreasonable substitutions and general type-A behavior. And he knew and appreciated his regulars very much.

  • I stopped by a few minutes after six and the cupboard looked bare. I saw two loaves of bread, a few things in the showcase, a medium sized line, and bakers baking furiously. It looks lovely and smells great. I’ll try again at some point.

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