Praline Bakery & Bistro
“People really do eat with their eyes,” says Susan Limb, who co-owns Praline Bakery & Bistro with Patrick Musel. Because of that, the two former White House pastry chefs and their staff of seven produce cakes, pastries and tarts that are artful and stunning without being over the top. And looks do matter. A dome-shaped mango mousse cake that resembled an egg fetched few buyers until it was converted to a flatter oval. Conversely, the dome-shaped chocolate truffle cake, looking like a giant truffle, sells well.
The bakery’s chestnut-chocolate urchin cake, a fabulous rendition of the spiky sea creature, is also a big seller, despite the fact that chestnut is not a familiar or popular flavor. And when the pastry chefs dressed up cupcakes with macarons on the icing, they flew off the shelves. In the end, though, Praline does a brisk business by knowing that it’s what’s inside that really counts.
Shops at Sumner Place, 4611 Sangamore Road, Bethesda, 301-229-8180,www.praline-bakery.com