Ashley Coiffard is a natural-born hostess. The bakery co-owner credits her husband’s culinary talent for L’appartement 4f’s pastries, but all would be lost without her aptitude for hospitality. Good food is made with love, but so is good business. Coiffard notices restaurants with intention—serving customers with tenderness, designing spaces rich in personality.
When Gautier began baking in the couple’s Cobble Hill home kitchen, first bread, then croissants, she says “I saw how our friends and family would eat them [the pastries]… I knew they weren’t just being nice, they genuinely really liked everything he was making.” The dream behind L’appartement 4f began here, among visitors of the Coiffards’ Brooklyn apartment. “I just felt like Gautier’s [pastries] were fun enough to bring into the world.”
Post-annual trip to France, prior to the pandemic, the couple designed a menu—collectively itching to serve the public. Then quarantine hit. “We were like, okay… never mind…. That little dream can be put on hold.” The Coiffards did hold, without ever losing steam. As the city began to reopen, so did the couple’s kitchen. They posted a menu. Bread and pastry orders flowed in before the two could blink. “We really thought it was just gonna be like a bake sale, where a couple people buy it… but then customers kept ordering and it was nuts. And so now we own a bakery.”
Since opening, Ashley Coiffard stalks the Brooklyn food scene, tracking down the same magic feeling she inspires within the walls of L’appartement 4f. Though good food will always speak for itself, her top 5 Downtown Brooklyn restaurants ensure that customers feel the love as well.
“So there’s this place in Prospect Heights. It’s kind of nostalgic for me because Gautier and I used to go there. I don’t even know how we found it. But it’s called Faun NYC. It’s cute inside, the drinks are good, the food’s really good, the vibe is good. It’s traditional Italian food. We went there for his 30th birthday, in February, and then the pandemic hit. I know everyone was ordering out during the pandemic but Gautier and I didn’t order out once for three months. When we started eating out again, I brought our friends there and they were really impressed. I just have a soft spot for it. Especially because we went there for his birthday and then the world shut down. So I was like, I want to be eating Faun again with all of our friends before the world changed.”
“Sofreh might be my favorite favorite—It’s a Persian restaurant also in Prospect Heights. Last year we tried to walk in with my mom, who’s from Iran, and they were booked for the next month. So, we made a reservation on the spot and my mom came all the way back just to go to this restaurant. She gave it the stamp of approval. My favorite dish there, and in life, is the Gorhmeh Sabzi. It’s a Persian lime stew with spinach and beef. I also love the saffron rice. I met the owner, Nasim Alikhani, in the restaurant, went to her book signing, and this week she actually came into the bakery. It was so cool to speak to an older Persian woman who also opened up a restaurant in New York. Cooking Persian food is a labor of love—you’re in that kitchen all day. When my grandmother would visit from Iran she would cook. The cuisine is nostalgic for me, it reminds me of my grandparents.”
“If you haven’t been to Vinegar Hill House, you have to go. It’s small but their brunch is the best. They have this sourdough pancake—it’s insane. Gautier and I get everything. The bacon, the potatoes with jalapeno hash. Our table is always full and I have a million pictures of the food on my phone. It’s just really, really good American brunch.”
“The perfect tapas place—we go for dates. The food is always delicious and Gautier and I love sharing plates here. We always get the special, and go on Valentine’s day. The menu’s highlights: Pulpo de Roca, Garbanzos Fritos, Huevos Rellenos, Morros Prensados, and Torta Santiago”
The last place is in Brooklyn Heights: Inga’s Bar. It’s packed every night, a total neighborhood spot. Elevated and non-stuffy. Their menu is great, but my favorite thing there is the cheeseburger. It’s a double patty, just cooked perfectly. It’s not a big, crazy, flashy burger. It’s perfect. The owner Sean is such a nice guy. Gautier and I opened our bakery around the same time Inga’s Bar opened, and he gave us all of his business-owner secrets—no gatekeeping, Just briefed his whole plan. It was so sweet, especially because opening anything is really scary. But he’s not just on the list because he’s nice—his food is amazing.”