|Cannelé de Bordeaux from Dominique Ansel–photo courtesy of Dominique Ansel|
love French pastries. Nothing complements a morning coffee quite like an airy
croissant or toothsome brioche. With no shortage of floury, sugary fixes south
of 23rd Street, you can walk into almost any patisserie to quell
your cravings, as most choices span the entire sweet/savory spectrum.
The average pastry
chef may have quivered at the thought of opening a shop in an uncertain
economy, especially in a section of Manhattan where the competition stands
stiffer than egg whites waiting to become meringues. But in November 2011,
western SoHo (sometimes referred to as South Village), welcomed a new
sweet-treat retailer, Dominique Ansel Bakery. With established pastry purveyors like Francois Payard and Balthazar already
claiming the sugar-seeking foot traffic of SoHo, the bakery soon found itself
serving – and pleasing – some of New York’s most discriminating, demanding
|Chef Ansel at work–photo courtesy of Dominique Ansel|
Executive Pastry Chef at Daniel, Chef Ansel has proved he can meet –
perhaps even exceed – the high-caliber standards of his industry neighbors and
their clientele. In just a year and a half, Dominique Ansel Bakery has garnered
a steady local following while also drawing tourists, not to mention the James Beard Award nomination
he received earlier this year as a finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef,
Dominique Ansel Bakery.
Spring Street between Thompson and Sullivan (and lucky for me, close to my work
address), the bakery features exquisite almond croissants, palmiers, éclairs,
macarons, cannelés, and many other sweet Parisian standbys. More inventive
options can also be found, such as the Nutella milk bread, pistachio sticky
bun, and, a customer favorite, the DKA (Dominique’s Kouign Amann, a half-brioche,
half-croissant delicacy with a crunchy caramelized crust).
|So many choices!–photo courtesy of Dominique Ansel|
While I refrain from
strolling the two blocks from my office to the bakery too often, I do let
myself indulge once in a while with a ham and gruyere croissant (hey, there’s
protein in there!). Last Friday I stopped in and tried something new, and opted
for a soy latte, fresh fruit salad, and chausson aux pommes. A
French-style apple turnover, chausson means “slipper”, and I just love the fanciful poetry of the term.
I can imagine bakers preparing the dough with centuries-old precision, creating
a cozy interior for whatever filling will then be incorporated. Besides,
ordering one at the register feels both fun and classy. I suggest doing so, and
also requesting a café au lait. If that doesn’t make you feel like you’ve just jet-set to Paris,
the other selections will.
|My soy latte–next time, I’ll order a café au lait|
|Fresh fruit–a healthy choice|
|Chausson aux pommes!|
Dominique Ansel has plenty to offer, including tiny, tasty excuses
to spoil yourself and to take your time doing so. The made-to-order madeleines,
for example, make you wait a few minutes before taking that first buttery bite.
Available after 3 p.m. Friday through Sunday, stop by for a small or large
order ($4.25 for 10, $7.50 for 20), and then enjoy the still-warm sponginess on
|Madeleines!--photo courtesy of Dominique Ansel|
Or pop in for a picturesque café lunch and try the roasted pork club, leek and ham quiche, or lighter fare like ricotta honey truffle toast, classic chicken Nicoise salad, or the avocado romaine salad with sliced almonds and a garlic yogurt dressing. If the weather’s good and you have the time, stop in the garden. You can then splurge on calories for dessert, opting for the honey lavender tart, cotton-soft cheesecake, sweet earl gray cake, or, the ultimate in chocolate decadence, the Paris-New York (pâte à choux puff pastry stuffed with caramel, peanut and chocolate) or better yet, take one of each to go.
Dominique Ansel Bakery
189 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012