It’s been almost two years since the doughnut-croissant hybrid’s debut, yet anyone hoping to grab one still has to line up before dawn. Even on a recent wintry Tuesday, they were gone before 10 a.m.
But another chalkboard sign sitting just above it — a drawing of the pastry with the words “Keep Creating” underneath — is a reminder that the home of the Cronut is also, like Magritte’s pipe, not just the home of the Cronut.
“The Cronut is a great creation — and I want to keep on creating and doing new things,” says Dominique Ansel, inventor of the pastry that has practically eclipsed sliced bread. “It’s just a way of thinking, it’s just the way of understanding that you can’t bet your life on one thing, you have to keep on moving forward.”
That next move is Dominique Ansel Kitchen. Set to open April 29 in the West Village, the Willy Wonka of the pastry world will get a three-floor emporium to let his creativity roam. By day it’ll serve as a restaurant-bakery hybrid; by night cocktails will overtake coffee upstairs at Unlimited Possibilities, with a tastingmenu of desserts at a chef’s table for eight. Ansel just announced this week that the kitchen will be led by his fellowDaniel alum, KarysLogue.
The concept of a dessert-only cocktail bar isn’t new; the trend arrived in 2003 withChikaLicious Dessert Bar. And in January, the pie-making duo behindButter & Scotchmade the leap from Smorgasburg stall to a brick-and-mortar spot in Crown Heights. But there's aunique distinction that sets Kitchen apart. Ansel, who’s been baking since age 16, knows that the best pastries have a secret ingredient: time.
“I remember being in the kitchen for many many years building Napoleon — with the fresh, crispy, crunchy puff pastry, nicely caramelized, and the soft cream — and I always remember cutting it and eating the trimmings and it was so good, so tasty,” he recounts.
“And then what you do is wrap it up, put it in a little container, put it inside the case, and it stays there until somebody buys it. But it’s always so much better when it’s fresh, just made, and I want to give people that freshness and quality.”
He estimates about 70 percent of Kitchen’s menu will be made to order, including a1:1 Lemon Butter Tartthat won’t be mixed and piped into its shell until you give the word. Even familiar items get a makeover, like the"pain au chocolate 2.0"which he’s transformed into a hedgehog with jagged spines of Valrhona dark chocolate. Kitchen will also serve savory items, like thenext pastry he's cross-breeding with the croissant: garlic bread. (May we suggest the nameCroknot?)
The one thing you won’t find, however, is the Cronut. But we don't think you'll miss it.