Le Caprice DC owner and head baker Manijeh Erfani shows off the goods. Photographs by Jeff Martin
Growing up, Manijeh Erfani was obsessed with the typical baked goods that line traditional French patisseries: fruit tarts festooned with glazed strawberries and kiwi, religieuse cream puffs bursting with rich filling, pretty pastel macarons, and flaky croissants. Her passion became her career—Erfani ran a bakery in Thionville, just over the border from Luxembourg in northeastern France. Two years ago, when she moved to the states with her husband, Ahmad, it was with a dream of opening a traditional French bakery. She did some more culinary training at the New School in New York City and at a Washington-area bakery, and then, in September, the Erfanis signed a lease at 3460 14th Street in Columbia Heights, around the corner from where their son Farhang and his wife, Emily, own a house.
The couple’s bakery, Le Caprice DC, opened Tuesday morning. Neighborhood friends trickled in to try ciabatta, brioche, and baguettes; the last is baked twice daily, and will “make people stop saying you can’t get a good baguette in this town,” says Emily, who is helping her in-laws with the opening. Throughout January, the Erfanis are offering individual-sized galettes des Rois, and they will continue to sell seasonal specials throughout the year: bûche de Noël during the holidays, seasonal berry tarts in the warmer seasons, squash-stuffed whatnot come fall. All the pastries—croissants, pains au chocolat, scones—are baked in-house. In fact, the only items at Le Caprice that are not made on the premises are the bagels, a concession to the neighborhood’s preferred breakfast item. Emily says the Erfanis are currently experimenting with coffees, but drip and espresso drinks are available. (She also mentioned that they are looking for feedback from customers, so if you go, feel free to comment on your cappuccino.) At lunch, there are croque monsieurs, salads, and slices of quiche, and soups will be available in coming weeks.
In addition to what’s behind the display case daily, Le Caprice accepts special orders for dinner parties and such. The Erfanis suggest calling 24 to 48 hours in advance to ensure they have enough time to create your desired confection.
Le Caprice DC. 3460 14th St., NW; 202-290-3109; lecapricedc.com. Open daily 7 AM to 8 PM.