The endlessly inventive Dominique Ansel is opening an ingenious new restaurant that turns the art of pastry into spectator sport.
"Shall we?" asks Dominique Ansel as he picks up his whisk. He’s demonstrating how to make his chocolate mousse, a specialty at Dominique Ansel Kitchen (DAK), which opens this spring in Manhattan’s West Village. After whisking soft whipped cream into a bowl of meringue, the chef pours melted chocolate on top and gracefully folds it in.
Ansel is renowned as the creator of the Cronut, the world-famous croissant-doughnut hybrid he sells at his SoHo bakery. But there will be no Cronuts at DAK; rather, the focus is on just-made dishes. “Most places prepare desserts hours, sometimes days, ahead,” Ansel says. At DAK, pastries will be freshly made—for instance, a just-out-of-the-oven croissant will be topped with orange butter and dark chocolate slivers. DAK will sell a few savory items, like outstanding garlic-bread croissants (“Just baked—obviously,” says the chef) and farro bowls with vegetables cooked in parchment paper, as well as wine.
The high-ceiling DAK space has tiered seating for about 30 that faces the open kitchen—customers are little more than eight feet from the cooks. There are also outdoor tables and a second-floor tasting table called UP (Unlimited Possibilities) for after-hours parties.
In the time it takes Ansel to detail his plans for DAK, he has finished his chocolate mousse; it took less than a minute to fold in the chocolate. He covers it with a flourish of whipped cream and hands over a spoon. “You should eat it now,” he says.
Dominique Ansel Kitchen, 137 Seventh Ave. South, New York City; dominiqueanselkitchen.com; 212-242-5111.
Get the recipe: Extra-Creamy Chocolate Mousse