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Bread Furst, Baker Mark Furstenberg at Connecticut Avenue and Albemarle Street in Van Ness


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If you live within walking distance of Connecticut Avenue and Albemarle Street, drop to your knees, bow down to the ground, do a medieval chant, and pray to all that's holy that what might come to pass, will come to pass.

Right now, the odds are slightly against it happening, but the possibility is definitely there, and for once, Van Ness might be the source of some exciting culinary news, coming our way in the near future.

I asked for permission to say more, but was asked not to, so I must honor that request.

Cross your fingers ...

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I find it barbaric to ask people who want to come to your restaurant to wait in the street.  We are going to have at Bread Feast one menu, one dinner.  People will be able to buy a seat (or seats) fir

It's going to be a good collaboration, I think. My objective has been to have a neighborhood bakery, rooted in the neighborhood and rooted in baked goods.  I didn't have that downtown at The BreadL

Mark Furstenberg had emailed me earlier this morning. I had asked Frank Ruta a few weeks ago if he could tell me about any upcoming projects, and he said that his partner wanted to tell a few people a

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This pisses me off. I have suffered in this land of culinary blah for over a decade. Yes, there's Bucks, Comet, Jake's but that's not saying much anymore. Growing up, we used to drive across the city for a loaf when he opened the first bread shop and now he's bringing it to my soon to be former neighborhood. That's just wrong.

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That's the location i thought might be the spot. At the very least it will help improve the chemical stink from the carwash next door. But considering the location was a realtor what is the over/under on a bakery buildout? 6 months? 1 year?

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Doesnt appear that anything has been signed yet. Space is still the closed shell of a realtor office. I believe they had a ANC meeting regarding the parking hours in the lot behind the building. But thats been the only known action so far.

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Doesnt appear that anything has been signed yet. Space is still the closed shell of a realtor office. I believe they had a ANC meeting regarding the parking hours in the lot behind the building. But thats been the only known action so far.

Yep. No reason to be concerned at this point. The most recent "official" news from the comment stream on that same thread at the link above was this one:

 
Bob Summersgill Monday - 29 / 07 / 2013 Reply
ANC 3F voted 4-0-0 to extend the parking lot hours. There was no other business at the special meeting.
 

Summersgill is the ANC 3F07 commissioner so he'd know. His post above wasn't even two weeks ago. The parking thing is significant only that it indicates a neighborhood doing all it can to embrace--versus obstruct--a new business.  All good signs but, as you say, until something is signed, anything can happen in this city!

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Two items of note:

Bread Furst Blog:  Chronicling the build out of Bread Furst

The Baker's Apprentice Project:  In conjunction with Nurish DC, Mark Furstenberg is looking for 5 apprentices to help launch Bread Furst.

The blog piece is terrific.  I wish him luck with this endeavor.     I lived in Van Ness when Furstenberg opened Marvelous Market.  It was somewhat ironic and stunning to walk up Connecticut Avenue and stand in "bread lines" to acquire his best breads in DC.  They were truly wonderful in an environment that was bereft of such wonderous foods.

The experience so changed the definition of bread lines from a place where the starving would get nibbles to a place where the overly affluent with time on their hands could experience truly superior foods at higher prices.   Ha ha.

But they were delicious and worth the weekly trips for those culinary delights.

His article is an interesting look into bits of history concerning DC.  Very nice story.  I wish him the best and plan on visiting his new bread lines when he opens in 2014.

I'm the 96th follower of his blog piece.  I look forward to his progress.

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The second installation of Mark Furst's blog on the development of his bakery:   http://breadfurst.com/2013/09/17/up-in-the-air/

Man it sounds like a big job with lots to do and consider long before opening:   I will say if the attorney he is using is the Rich Levin I know...he is using the best danged commercial real estate attorney in the city IMHO.   Its an interesting saga.

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And the third installation of his running blog as Furstenberg and various vendors who will be working to change the building meet and walk through this property:  http://breadfurst.com/2013/09/22/kicking-off/  along with his musings about past endeavors.

I used to lease space to restaurateurs and work with them to find space.   This is extremely revealing as to how and why so much money can go into a new food space.  As a bakery it has unique requirements...but the build out can just eat up money!!!!!

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Thanks to daveo for spotlighting Mark's blog.  There have been five posts since the third linked to above so I just signed up to follow it.

It's great reading. Not only is Mark so generous with his knowledge and time while being humble enough to share introspectively but the blog is also wonderfully written with interesting photos illustrating the progress of BreadFurst.

And, you even get to learn interesting bits like Domku's owner working on opening a coffee shop in Anacostia!

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Eloquent, moving, emotional, first hand memories of the day John Kennedy was shot.  Article by Mark Furstenberg.  Furstenberg was a young junior member of Kennedy's administration working in Washington blocks from the White House and had a White House Pass that gave him a close first hand look at this event.

Very powerful writing.   http://breadfurst.com/2013/11/22/fifty-years-ago/

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As one of the Van Ness neighbors he hopes to engage with, I can only speak for myself when I say that I am very much looking forward to the opening of this bakery. I After spending a week in San Francisco and enjoying daily Blue Bottle cappuccinos in the morning coupled with a goodie from Acme Bread Company, I really hope he invests in a strong coffee program.  He'd have the market for upper NW totally cornered.   

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Eloquent, moving, emotional, first hand memories of the day John Kennedy was shot by Mark Furstenberg. 

I'm sorry, mostly I try not to be an asshole grammar pedant, but this sentence seriously needs a comma.  I almost spat coffee all over my computer.  :)

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I'm sorry, mostly I try not to be an asshole grammar pedant, but this sentence seriously needs a comma.  I almost spat coffee all over my computer.  :)

Oi.  You are correct.  An absolutely horrid sentence.   I edited it.   thanks.

I was a kid when President Kennedy got shot.  I recall much from that moment of first hearing the news and the aftermath of several days, watching the events and the funeral.

Furstenberg's article left me breathless and dazed bringing me back to that horrific moment, day and the aftermath.  Its a powerful story, IMHO.

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Opening tomorrow morning May 6th, having passed final inspections.

Leave it to Mark not to accredit himself in the Our Chefs page.

Welcome to both Jack Revelle (previously at The White House) and Ben Arnold (previously at Range).

A Chat With Mark Furstenberg was the first chat we ever had on donrockwell.com - as with a few others, I felt like I had snagged the unsnaggable.

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We just got back from the Breadfurst opening party. For sure the best food in Van Ness (that is a low bar) but arguably will soon be known as one of the best, if not the best, bakery in DC. The space is stunning. The bread, pastry, cake, and cucumber soda we tried were fantastic. I expect there will be long lines. Any aspirations of a low carb, bathing suit season diet just went right out the window. Pinching myself that I get to have this world class bakery in my backyard. 

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We just got back from the Breadfurst opening party. For sure the best food in Van Ness (that is a low bar) but arguably will soon be known as one of the best, if not the best, bakery in DC. The space is stunning. The bread, pastry, cake, and cucumber soda we tried were fantastic. I expect there will be long lines. Any aspirations of a low carb, bathing suit season diet just went right out the window. Pinching myself that I get to have this world class bakery in my backyard. 

Here are my Twitter thoughts about your post, lekkerwijn.

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We just got back from the Breadfurst opening party. For sure the best food in Van Ness (that is a low bar) but arguably will soon be known as one of the best, if not the best, bakery in DC. The space is stunning. The bread, pastry, cake, and cucumber soda we tried were fantastic. I expect there will be long lines. Any aspirations of a low carb, bathing suit season diet just went right out the window. Pinching myself that I get to have this world class bakery in my backyard. 

I live right next to it, and saw all the folks getting the soft-opening yums.

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reporting live, using iphone so please forgive typos. after 20 min the almost to the door line has diminished to a trickle. space is beautiful as others noted. staff having some first day issues but nithing dire. patrons being polite. excellent orange poppy seed muffin, decent coffee. got a baguette a hunk of pain au levain for later but couldn't resist pulling off a piece of baguette

wow. MF is a national treausre.

only criticism: they need a board with a list of breads. people keep asking "what's this? what's that?". and not all the staff know.

the large breads are priced by the pound; you can get a piece cut to size.

be warned: cash only for now.

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MF is a national treausre.

only criticism: they need a board with a list of breads. people keep asking "what's this? what's that?". and not all the staff know.

Totally agree with both comments.

At 9:20 this morning the bagels and English muffins were sold out. Breads all looked amazing and I bought a ficelle which was great, still warm out of the oven. I parked out back which meant I got to pass by the upstairs prep areas and preview all the yummy stuff coming out later in the day. Can't wait for many, many happy returns to this place.

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Stopped by this morning, before the rush.

what a beautiful space!  I hadn't realized how big that place really is.

it was a bit chaotic - but completely forgivable since they'd only been open a whole hour when Mr. Ozgirl and I arrived.

It wasn't clear if I needed to order coffee separately if i didn't want pastries/bread - but as we did, i just stood in line and ordered everything together.

Also, it wasn't clear if you go straight to the register to order to place your order with someone else and then pay at the cashier.  (Since it's the same frustration as Little Red Fox, I'm really hoping they fix this in the future.)

 
Prices were definitely higher than i'd hoped for a neighbourhood place, but i wasn't surprised when i saw them.  So, Surprised?  no.  Disappointed?  a little.
 
As for the food - we got a brioche (delish! - such buttery goodness, lovely texture, and a perfect size), a scone (Mr. Ozgirl loved it. i didn't get any.), and a lemon mint cake which was good, but not enough lemon or mint flavour for me.  They are also serving Madcap coffee which was great. Three pastries, plus a drip coffee and a latte to go cost just over $16.  
 
I think a sign listing their coffee prices will help and a few "order here", "pay here" signs will also be good.  
 
Excited to try some of their challahs, other breads, and prepared foods and thrilled Mark Furstenberg has come my neighbourhood!  
 
Walking to/from the metro for the daily commute just improved significantly.
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What time did you get there?

About 9:10.

Totally agree with both comments.

At 9:20 this morning the bagels and English muffins were sold out. Breads all looked amazing and I bought a ficelle which was great, still warm out of the oven. I parked out back which meant I got to pass by the upstairs prep areas and preview all the yummy stuff coming out later in the day.

Which reminds me of another potential problem: lines.  When I arrived a line ran from the customers to the front door.  After awhile it diminished to just a few people, then more started arriving via the back door - so a new line formed heading back that way.  Then more people arrived via the front door and no one was sure where to line up.

They say that man can't live by bread alone, but with Bread Furst open I could give it an honest try.

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One of the few advantages to a pre-dawn exercise habit is that you show up hungry to Bread Furst at 7:30, before the locusts descend and the loaves have cooled.  Not sure I loved, loved, loved the baguettes -- densely moist inside and the crust not as crusty as it might be, but that's mostly whinging for the sake of whinging.  The corn rye is excellent, sour and moist.  Why make a sandwich when you can just eat it plain, or gilded with a little butter, and be immensely happy? I did not get to the Palladin before I had to leave for work, we'll be having it for dinner tonight.  The low-starch summer diet has been put on hold.

On a personal note, last time I took my daughter up to our "secret" swimming hole in the Shenandoahs, she said "that was great, but I wish we had those sandwiches you used to make, you know,  (hard) sausage and butter on a ficelle." BF sells ficelles, and I am headed south to Richmond to see the girl and perhaps picnic with her on Saturday.  I predict she will enjoy lunch.

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About 9:10.

Which reminds me of another potential problem: lines.  When I arrived a line ran from the customers to the front door.

They say that man can't live by bread alone, but with Bread Furst open I could give it an honest try.

I lived in the neighborhood when Marvelous Market first opened in the 90's.  For me, the former location was North and out of the way for a weekday treat during commute time...

...but the weekends.  We would often walk up Conn Ave to the old location.  THE BREAD LINES  omg.  Out the door.  Down the block a bit as I recall.  But they moved reasonably quickly.

What an irony.   DC's bread lines at that time were the demographic opposite of bread lines through history and around the world.

But the quality certainly justified long lines, patience and getting the best bread in the region at the time.  I'll be visiting Bread Furst and its way out of my way now.

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I lived in the neighborhood when Marvelous Market first opened in the 90's. For me, the former location was North and out of the way for a weekday treat during commute time...

...but the weekends. We would often walk up Conn Ave to the old location. THE BREAD LINES omg. Out the door. Down the block a bit as I recall. But they moved reasonably quickly.

What an irony. DC's bread lines at that time were the demographic opposite of bread lines through history and around the world.

But the quality certainly justified long lines, patience and getting the best bread in the region at the time. I'll be visiting Bread Furst and its way out of my way now.

And don't forget the bread lines at Breadline - there was (and still may be) a sign on the door saying, 'when you're here, you have approximately an 8-minute wait' (or whatever it was).

One of the few advantages to a pre-dawn exercise habit is that you show up hungry to Bread Furst at 7:30, before the locusts descend and the loaves have cooled. Not sure I loved, loved, loved the baguettes -- densely moist inside and the crust not as crusty as it might be, but that's mostly whinging for the sake of whinging. The corn rye is excellent, sour and moist. Why make a sandwich when you can just eat it plain, or gilded with a little butter, and be immensely happy? I did not get to the Palladin before I had to leave for work, we'll be having it for dinner tonight. The low-starch summer diet has been put on hold.

On a personal note, last time I took my daughter up to our "secret" swimming hole in the Shenandoahs, she said "that was great, but I wish we had those sandwiches you used to make, you know, (hard) sausage and butter on a ficelle." BF sells ficelles, and I am headed south to Richmond to see the girl and perhaps picnic with her on Saturday. I predict she will enjoy lunch.

Mmm, saucisson and butter on a ficelle is one of the world's great sandwiches.

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When i worked in France my Jambon Beurre sandwich on market day in my tiny town was my finest weekly treat. So I hope he has some ham laying around.

Cornichons?

You know, Marvelous Market used to sell a pretty good pre-packaged jambon beurre.

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Mmm, saucisson and butter on a ficelle is one of the world's great sandwiches.

Somewhere I read an article about a visit to the Rungis market outside Paris and the author noted the bar at which truckers who had driven in overnight from the provinces to drop their loads of poulet de Bresse, belons de Normande and melons de Clavoillon were eating saucisson sandwiches, drinking red wine and smoking as the sun came up.  Thereafter, the combination of such sandwiches, served with a glass of vin du pays, was known in our household as a "French Trucker's Breakfast."  It makes a great lunch.  (Variation: olive oil and thinly sliced parmesan with the saucisson).

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One note of interest.  I was fascinated and intrigued to see the last item on the bread menu;   bialys;  available on weekends.  I don't believe I've ever had a really excellent bialy in this region.  I'm quite psyched.  I kibbutz about bialy's with far flung friends on the web.  They were a rare treat from the NYC region and from my youth.

On a side note on bialys.  If you wish to see a very bizarre glitch in google search, use maps.google.com    Search for bialys DC   That is a very weird result.

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headed to nyc, we hadn't left before it occurred to me to make a detour! Nick was a little cranky, and especially since he expected a long wait. wandering in at 11, there wasn't a line. A couple cannelés mollified my pilot. I've stashed away a couple more pastries to help us get to new york. mmmmmm.

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Checked out this new spot for lunch today. It was very busy at noon with a line to the door that ebbed and flowed over the next hour - looks like so far they are doing good business.

I really love the space. You walk in past huge glass windows looking into the bread kitchen - I bet you could problem learn a thing or two just watching the careful work they are doing on each loaf.  Similarly in the back up the steps near the parking lot back door you can watch the pastry kitchens at work.  Definitely a treat for anyone who likes to watch open kitchens. Not surprisingly, I was a bit overwhelmed by the choices - about 6-8 different breads were available, many different pastries, cakes, cookies, etc. And some but not all of the salads and sandwiches on their website were available.

My suggestion is that they have a sidewalk sandwich chalkboard where they also post their menu - as we waited in line we cook watch the breadmaking, but didn't really know what was available to eat/drink. 

I had the very good, portabella mushroom, eggplant, harissa mayo, and young pecorino panini sandwich ($10 like all 4 of the sandwiches, the rest have either roast beef, chicken or roast turkey).  It was large but not too huge on thick cut whole wheat. Not sure if this is opening kinks or not, but all of the sandwiches were only available on this bread which was the least interesting thing they have. I would have prefered options of brioche, levain or paladin (both the last two were being sold by the pound - customer specified how much).  Hopefully this will change because all of the whole loaves looked great.  Since I wasn't having the fancier bread, I also tried a slice of the coconut cream pie with a bit of add chocolate cream on top. This was really good. Unclear on exact price but I think it was $3-4 which was a bargain compared to some of the tiny cakes for $5-6.   The pastry styles and slightly high prices reminded me of Palena's defunct coffee shop (Breadfurst is only a 15 minute walk or 6 minutes on metro from old Palena spot).

Service was trying their best and it wasn't too bad. The line was a little slow, but they came around and took orders before paying which meant a bit of a wait to pay, but then the food was ready right away.

I know their aim is to be a neighborhood bakery and so far it looks like they are achieving it.  Many UDC students and various neighbors saying hi to one another.

I'll be back to try the really good looking Palladin, corn rye, and other assorted baked goods/pastries. Finally, a real reason to head up to Van Ness.

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Went on Friday to try more items - this time it was the asparagus and wheat berry salad with a lemon vinaigrette and i bought a challah (available only on Fridays).  The salad ($8) was lovely... light and refreshing with spring greens, feta, marcona almonds, and of course the asparagus and wheat berries.  Definitely going back for that one again!

The challah ($12!!!!).  The challah was clearly labeled with the price.  I thought it was outrageous, but I thought I'd try it once - maybe it was THAT good.  It was good, but NOT $12 good.  As one is supposed to have 2 challahs for a Shabbat dinner, that's a hefty price to pay for bread for the table.  The challah itself has a hearty crust on it - which for many folks is fine, it just makes it easier to hollow out the middle part and leave the crusty shell. :-)

Kudos to the bakery though for continuing to work out the ordering/paying kinks.  There is now a coffee board listing items and prices (and there are pour overs if one wants to wait, despite what the Bread Furst blog had once mentioned).  There was also a sign this morning directing folks where to stand and form a line.

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The challah ($12!!!!).  The challah was clearly labeled with the price.  I thought it was outrageous, but I thought I'd try it once - maybe it was THAT good.  It was good, but NOT $12 good.  As one is supposed to have 2 challahs for a Shabbat dinner, that's a hefty price to pay for bread for the table.  The challah itself has a hearty crust on it - which for many folks is fine, it just makes it easier to hollow out the middle part and leave the crusty shell. :-)

I went today for a mid-morning breakfast and it has a decent amount of business, but no lines during this off-hour.  I asked and teased one of the sales people about selling challah for $12 as exorbinant. He corrected me that apparently there were two sizes a smaller, average loaf for $7 (a fairly reasonable markup from the typical $4-6 I pay) and a oversized loaf for $12.  He also said the smaller ones sold out super quick, so it is likely they were gone when Ozgirl showed up. I'm curious though how big was the $12 loaf?

On this visit, I got to see the breakfast bakery offerings - english muffins, plain and sesame bagels (more traditional - bigger hole and smaller), lemon mint mini-cakes, all of the same breads, mini-brioche, muffins and probably a few other things I'm forgetting.  They also had a short prepared breakfast menu of english muffin with a slice of frittata with roasted pepper, potato, riccotta salata cheese, and something green - maybe asapargus, brioche french toast, grilled PBJ on brioche, and bagel and lox. (these ranged from $3-6 or 7 each).

I wanted to try the bread so  I got a ciabatta roll ($2.50) and a slice of the frittata ($3).  The frittata was good, would have been better warmed up.  The roll was a bit disappointing - it was good bread, but lacked flavor.

I did see that had the same cocount chocolate cream pie I had last time, but this time was served as mini-pies vs. slice.  Also the pastry kitchens was putting the finishing touches on some yummy looking lemon tarts.

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I went today for a mid-morning breakfast and it has a decent amount of business, but no lines during this off-hour. 

I haven't been here yet, so this statement is premature to the point of being somewhat ridiculous.

But I want everyone to please remember Palena and Amernick in the upcoming years.

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