The pursuit of affluent foodies has driven many a chef into the West Village — and into an expensive, knee-quaking lease. Now Soho’s prince pâtissier, Dominique Ansel, is opening a new space at 137 Seventh Avenue South, dubbed Dominique Ansel KITCHEN.
Ansel first made his entrée into New York City’s culinary pantheon as the executive pastry chef at Daniel, restaurateur Daniel Boulud’s flagship. There, Ansel was part of the team that earned the restaurant its first four-star New York Times rating, three Michelin stars and James Beard’s Outstanding Restaurant of the Year Award in 2010.
Yet Ansel is best known for his hysteria-inducing portmanteau pastry, the Cronut — for which the street value reached $100 a pop back in 2013. The Cronut may have caramelized his celebrity, but his latest effort has a whole new flavor. In other words: No more Cronuts.
“We just believe in moving forward, that’s all,” Ansel told Luxury Listings. “We love and appreciate the Cronut. But it’s about not letting the creation kill the creativity.”
The new West Village restaurant-bakery, set to open sometime this spring, will feature a kitchen nearly 20 times larger than in his famed Soho location. Seating, on the other hand, has been reduced to a more boutique size of about 30 to 50 seats, inside and out. Most significantly, Ansel is testing out an unprecedented concept at the restaurant: desserts à la minute on a $65 per-person tasting menu.
“In Europe, most of the bakers will do a morning bake before the shop opens and place everything out in the case for the day. That’s the way it’s always been done,” Ansel explains. “But I thought to myself, we used to just get coffee out of a thermos that had been brewed for hours, but now we want our espresso fresh roasted and fresh pulled. We want our vegetables and fruits juiced to order. We want a sandwich that is assembled fresh. Why can’t we do the same with desserts?”
So does the all-things-made-to-order zeitgeist foretell the end of bakery cases? “I always say, ‘time is an ingredient.’ And I really believe it. Some things must be eaten fresh, and some things actually taste better once they’ve had time to sit. It’s about knowing the difference,” Ansel said. “I think in the future, it’s about bakeries understanding which is best for which.”
Ansel adds that he hopes to tell “stories” with his food — and serve alcohol, too, as the tasting menu will come with cocktail pairings. “We are hoping to not just to touch your taste buds but your heart. We believe desserts, more than any other course, is the most emotional part of your meal,” he said.
“So many of our current regulars live in the West Village, so I’m sure we’ll see a lot of familiar faces,” Ansel said. “A bakery, at the end of the day, is a place for the neighborhood.” —Christopher Cameron
Median January sale prices
1 bed $1,137,500
2 beds $2,575,000
> 3 beds $8,610,000[/column]
Median January rents
1 bed $4,300
2 beds $7,500
>3 beds $11,900[/column]