What you should be ordering at dominique ansel (and it's not a cronut)
17th November 2016
Let me sum up my experience at Dominique Ansel. It was two parts suffering and one part bliss. You should go - but know what to order and when to chase up your food, because it can be heaven or hell depending on your choices.
It's quite daring of them to set up right by British bake queen Peggy Porschen. Thanks to some genius branding and a little trademarking (ok also a small cottage-full of chef awards), Ansel has created a formidable cult following for what is essentially a stuffed, misshapen croissant, served room temperature on account of a cream filling rather than (vastly more desirable) warm.
I'm impressed with your marketing skills, Dominique. Now show me your bakes.
Unfortunately they were sold out of Cronuts when I visited.
See, I'd popped in for fiveses, which is a lot like elevenses; a good excuse to have a sweet thaaang at an inappropriate time of the afternoon. No nudging or winking please. We're talking about cake.
Ansel's instagram feed is full of inspired baking. Black and white sesame churros, bourbon pecan pie, banoffee paella, we're spoilt for eclectic and unusual choices at his bakery even without the Cronut.
I ordered a baked s'mores and spotted what looked suspiciously like a savoury cronut in the display. Turns out they had a Welsh rarebit cronut available! They're trying their hand at Britishness! Of course I had to have it.
A parade of school children came in and out while I waited for my order, their voices shrill with disappointment when they learned the Cronut was sold out. This would have been bearable had it not been so close to Hallowe'en, a day where every shrill neighbourhood child comes to my door to recite a list of dietary requirements, in order to con me out of my OM bars and leave me with the bloody Celebrations. Someone needs to notify the NHS - this bakery has worked out a way to cure gluten and dairy intolerances.
I waited twenty minutes to get my (cold) cronut. It sat on the serving counter for an age, like a sad schoolchild waiting for late parents to collect it. Eventually, I went over to put it out of its misery.
Let's talk about cold for a moment. We have bechamel, cheese, mustard, and three-day old croissant. Cold was a big problem all over my plate. It's a total insult to the concept of a Welsh rarebit, one of the greatest British foods. It genuinely felt like Ansel was mocking our traditions, the monarchy, and the Wellington Boot all at once in my plate.
I waited a further fifteen minutes for the frozen s'smores, presuming they'd staggered my savoury and sweet dishes. Bored, I chased it up and got a stunner of a dessert.
A hunk of deeply frozen vanilla ice-cream, encased in chocolate brownie crunch, lies within a rectangle of perfectly scorched, warm marshmallow. It's sweet - I wished, and then unwished that I had someone to share it with, because baked s'more, you're so fine you blow my mind.
I can't wait to go back and have another one. And try everything else that isn't a cronut. The staff clearly felt terrible about the long wait for my food and gifted me a salted caramel macaroon. I tried to refuse it magnanimously and just couldn't. It had more of a burnt caramel flavour - what a bonus! Bake on Ansel, keep serving up your magic.