Since the moment he opened his first bakery, Dominique Ansel has been a food news fixture. After all, it’s of utmost importance to stay abreast of the latest flavor of Cronut — or even more noteworthy — the pastry master’s newest, groundbreaking creations — from Magic Soufflés to Frozen S’mores to Milk and Cookie Shots.
But the sugar wizard’s latest venture is his most exciting yet; a second, West Village outpost, called Dominique Ansel Kitchen. Instead of merely absorbing overflow from SoHo’s snaking Cronut lines, this new spot is actually quite different (not to mention Cronut-free), largely concentrating on made-to-order sweets. There’s Mille Feuille, Chocolate Mousse and Sage-Smoked Brownies to start, as well as Guinness-infused Baba Rhum, and Lemon Yuzu Butter Tart emulsified in a milkshake maker. They all receive their finishing touches in a narrow kitchen behind the counter, as guests look on in wonder from stadium-style seating.
Other desserts are ready-to-go but no less impressive, including Coffee Caramel Pull-Apart Eclairs, Honeycomb Baked Rhubarb and Apple Tart, Classic Paris Brest and 48-Hour Tea-ramisu; a black tea and honey soaked cake dolloped with fresh mascarpone. But you don’t need to have an insatiable sweet tooth to get in on the fun at Dominique Ansel Kitchen, as savory, equally creative options abound. Think Spring Vegetable Papillote with Farro, Chorizo Corn Succotash Toast served with cotija cheese and a lime wedge, “XL” Croque Monsieur, and an early Instagram favorite; giant, pitch black hunks of squid ink-stained Brioche, injected with mushroom béchamel and topped with confit egg yolks and parmesan.
Not compelling enough? Venture upstairs to the light-dappled prep kitchen, where a chrome-topped table hangs from the ceiling, ready to be dropped down when Ansel launches his tasting menu-only concept in a few weeks. Dubbed U.P. (for Unlimited Possibilities), eight adventurous diners will feast on eight separate courses —no, you don’t have to tear open chocolate bars in search of golden tickets to secure your reservation, but you do have to go through Tock; a system invented at Chicago’s esteemed Alinea. What exactly Ansel plans to serve at his sugar salon will, of course, remain top secret for now — prime food news fodder for another day.