Dominique Ansel is a great baker, that much is not in dispute. But what does a French guy know about pie? (Tartines don’t count and you know it.)
In the name of scientific inquiry, we attended the first ever Pie Night on Thursday evening at Dominique Ansel Kitchen. The small but buzzing crowd were a lucky few — the bakery received 700 requests within two minutes, according to the chef. The three seatings each had 40 or so guests, who huddled under the restaurant’s awnings with spiced pear bellinis while waiting for their turn at the pie table.
Our slivers — diners could dictate the size of their pieces, as there were apparently three pies per person, and we wanted to try them all — secured, we huddled under the provided blankets on the restaurant’s outdoor seats.
Everyone at our table had a different favorite pie: the Dark Meat Chicken and Fall Vegetable Pot Pie that took a comfort food and made it worthy of being the centerpiece of a dinner party; the airy and not at all bitter 66% Dark Chocolate Cream Pie; the flawless Salted Caramel Apple Pie, made with fruit picked by the restaurant staff in New Jersey.
The one misstep was the Whiskey-Kissed Sweet Potato Pie, and I love everything in that description. Maybe something in the baking process didn’t agree with the alcohol, or I didn’t get enough of the marshmallow topping. This problem was not shared by the other adult pie of the night, Bourbon Pecan, which was so good I would get happily fat eating nothing but that until Thanksgiving.
The roving ice cream scoopers were largely turned away; when the pie is this good, it’d be a shame to put even the best dairy product on it. Ansel was on hand, greeting and stopping by each cluster of guests to chat.
Though there are no plans for another Pie Night, Ansel just announced on Instagram that the pies can be ordered online, made the day you pick it up. The $42 price tag is a bit steep for pie, but this is standard-setting stuff. Grandma better step up her game.