Why Pastry chef Soheil Fathi and his wife, Sarah Moridpour, who runs the front of the shop, wanted to have the kind of small, artisan bakery — one baker and one oven — that they were familiar with back home in Tehran. Fathi is baking bread and making half a dozen confections. When customers are handed warm loaves, says Moridpour, “you can see their happy eyes.”
The back story Fathi, a grad of Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery, helped his mother deliver marbled chocolate brownies for a little business she started in Tehran when the family needed money. After university, he and his father opened Cookie Box Tehran, an American-style bakery that now has three retail locations and supplies over 400 coffee shops in the Iranian capital. The family once lived in California, so they were familiar with typical American confections. In Tehran in 2007, Fathi and Moridpour opened a chocolate shop in an upscale mall and called it La Saison (The Season). “There were no handmade chocolates in Tehran,” says Moridpour. The couple displayed the chocolate as if the shop sold jewelry. “The product and the concept were avant-garde.” She explains that it was their designer’s idea to put a strikethrough across the La Saison logo, which they still use. It was meant to convey the idea that the business is in a constant state of innovation, she says, “a continuous new identity.”
What to eat Breads are beautiful. Sourdough has a dense, flavorful crumb that’s not sour, with a firm crust that is chewy rather than crackly. One of the most intriguing offerings is a buttery scone mixed with feta and topped with za’atar, the Middle Eastern spice and seed mix. Fathi is making the marbled cheesecake and deliciously fudgy brownies from his mother’s recipe, chocolate-fudge cookies mixed with a little rye flour and topped with a dot of bittersweet chocolate, and muesli bars, which are incredibly crunchy. He turns out croissants, pain au chocolat, kouign amann (pronounced “queen ah-mahn,” a buttery, caramel-y croissant confection), and chocolate chip cookies. Everything is made in small lots, so call ahead to place your order. Confusingly, the online store isn’t operating properly, which you’re told when you log on; it looks like everything is already sold out.
What to drink La Colombe coffee from the Philadelphia-based company, the house black tea blend that’s a mix of oolong + Earl Grey (”the typical Persian tea that everyone does 15 cups a day, drinking tea like every five minutes,” says Fathi), and housemade hot chocolate.
The takeaway La Saison hopes to expand its inventory and the days it’s open as they find their footing. Because of COVID and the tiny space, there’s invariably a line outside, which reminds Moridpour of the people who queue up in Tehran waiting for fresh bread. In her culture, she says, bread is a blessing. It’s very important, very holy, you might say.” She feels like she and Fathi are redefining the bakery concept in their tiny one-man, one-oven business. 407 Concord Ave., Cambridge, www.lasaison-bakery.com, 617-547-0009