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Believe it or not, the origins of Mark Furstenberg‘s forthcoming G Street Food can be traced to a turbulent period in the mid-1990s when the master breadmaker was being forced out of the very business he started —- the then-groundbreaking bakery, Marvelous Market.
“When I was failing at Marvelous Market and I was losing Marvelous Market because of my own expansion, I was invited to go on a trip to Apulia (Puglia, Italy),” says Furstenberg, who recently took part in the Washington City Paper‘s debut baguette competition. “I kept seeing bread eaten on the streets in various forms.”
If that trip abroad was the first spark, then every subsequent trip that Furstenberg took, whether to Philly or to France, was just enough fuel to keep an idea smoldering in the back of the chef’s mind. Finally, after years of traveling and eating all manner of street food, Furstenberg realized he had the concept for his next restaurant. He thought: “It would be so much fun to do street food in Washington… We don’t have real street here.”
This summer, Furstenberg’s long-smoldering idea will erupt into G Street Food in the former Ecco Cafe location at 1706 G St. NW. To call it “Furstenberg’s place,” however, is a little misleading. G Street will be owned by the Choi family, who previously operated Ecco Cafe. The Koreans had been serious fans of Furstenberg’s Breadline and had approached the breadmaker about working together at some point. The Chois are “going to run it,” Furstenberg says of G Street. “I’m going to do the menu and the food.”
“Unquestionably,” he adds, G Street “is going to be identified as mine” by most members of the media, not to mention most of the baker’s old fans from Breadline and Marvelous Market.
Furstenberg plans to sell a number of dough-based street foods, he says, perhaps samosas or Montreal-style bagels or stuffed Turkish flatbreads or even Chinese steam buns. But make no mistake, G Street will venture way beyond bready things.
Furstenberg is thinking about serving pho, Tunisian salads, kabobs, and even Asian-style congee for breakfast, which G Street will also serve. “It won’t be as bread based as the Breadline,” he promises.
The chef has been testing recipes, consulting cookbooks, and even making more trips to prepare for G Street’s opening. Furstenberg fully acknowledges that he’s not familiar with some of the foods he wants to serve, which in part explains why he’s not yet settled on a menu. (Well, that and the fact that the opening date is still months away.) But he plans to keep things concise at first.
“I’m not going to open with foods that I don’t really know and feel comfortable with,” he says.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery