Ansel's brunch is a beautiful thing to behold.
Ever since Dominique Ansel announced that his first sit-down restaurant would open in Los Angeles this year, everyone and their mother has been wondering what the master of baked goods will bring to the table. While Ansel has gained fame for his dazzling pastry offerings, ranging from the Cronut to the Cookie Shot, 189 by Dominque Ansel will be a thoughtful foray into the savory side of things—something Ansel hasn’t done in quite some time.
Taking over the old location of Morel’s Steakhouse in The Grove, the space will be two stories, with a bakery on the first floor, featuring some of Ansel’s classics and new L.A.-exclusive items, and Ansel’s flagship sit-down restaurant on the second. While dinner will be served daily, what is perhaps most exciting about Ansel’s latest venture is his take on brunch.
“I've always been intrigued by brunch,” he says. “It's something that’s usually a half-effort by a restaurant team. The menu is short, just some egg dishes. The team is tired, unenthusiastic. But yet, from a guest perspective, it's one of those meals that’s a real event. People go on their precious day off for brunch.”
Ansel aims to make the meal more inspired than the cookie-cutter hangover fixers we’ve all grown accustomed to. “It's an investment from the guests to do brunch," he says. "And they aren't doing it at the end of the night, but during the day. So why is it that it means more to a guest, yet chefs and restaurants pay less attention to it? There was an opportunity there."
So what does that opportunity to make brunch exciting again look like exactly? Weekend Table at 189 will be an interactive communal feast that won’t feature any menus and will mash-up different styles of table service and hospitality.
"We started thinking about what people needed for brunch over a year ago,” he said. “And it became apparent that it needed more hospitality, more service and more risk taking. We saw a lot of menus were turning generic: eggs benedict, scrambled, omelette.” But not at 189.
In line with the family-style feast, each table features cutting boards in the middle of the table. Guests will be able to see what catches their eyes and mark it down on the table's brunch stamp card, which are written in emojis à la Instagram and take the place of menus. The reason menus won’t do for brunch, according to Ansel? “No matter what you try to inject creatively into brunch, people would end up perhaps with just their staple egg choice," he says. "And so we took away the menu all together.”
Instead, as an array of seasonally inspired sweet and savory dishes including maple-glazed pork shank with winter spice marinade, “crunchy over crispy” fried chicken, shallot flatbread with gorgonzola, thyme and honey and D-I-Y lobster rolls are presented on trays from table to table, guests can pick the items they want as they emerge from the kitchen. And for those where brunch equals booze (we hear you), 189’s Weekend Table will also feature tableside, made-to-order Bloody Mary’s.
“We thought of bringing the food around the room and showing them to the guests and having them order it that way,” he says. “A big communal feast, a weekend table at our home and kitchen."
If that sounds too elaborate for the brunch purist in you—or for 11 a.m. on a Saturday—don’t worry: there are still eggs. Weekend brunchers will have the opportunity to start with Ansel’s soft-scrambled eggs with shallots, crème fraîche and chives served along coffee or juice. But in our opinion, after that eggy-goodness, that’s where the real party begins.
Reservations for brunch as well as dinner open Tuesday, October 24 at 12 p.m. PT on Resy and at dominiqueanselLA.com.