I had an hour to kill in SoHo. For most people, this is a breeze. The area is known for its high end clothing stores and all things posh. But that’s not my idea of fun. And let’s be real. An hour in the Barney’s CO-OP surrounded by “discounted” designer dresses and beautiful models is slightly depressing.
Enter my go to: food. I decided to check out the Dominique Ansel Bakery. The New York Times gave it a fabulous review last year, and I’d been dying to go.
Dominque Ansel is famous pastry chef from just north of Paris. He was the executive pastry chef at Daniel when they receive their 4-star rating from the New York Times, 3 Michelin Stars and the James Beard Outstanding Restaurant award for 2010.
It’s called the Dominique Ansel Bakery, but they’re more like a cafe that specializes in baked goods. They have a selection of hot and cold beverages, croissants (of course!) and lunch items in addition to the desserts.
Past the register is a glass counter displaying cakes, tarts, cookies and macaroons (oh my!). Everything looked so delicious and delicate. They were featuring a baked alaska for $72. (SEVENTY-TWO DOLLARS FOR A CAKE? I guess you can’t take the posh out of SoHo. Maybe I’ll put it on the menu when I throw my “made my first million” dinner party.) But that’s not what I came for.
Written on the chalkboard behind the counter was a menu that included madeleines, made-to-order. DING DING DING! I read about these. Ansel famously served them at Daniel at the end of every meal.
I ordered the smallest size: 10 madeleines for $4.63 (tax included). While I waited, a fellow customer confided in me that she came in to charge her phone, but ordered a batch of madelines and unconsciously finished the whole thing. I had a feeling that we’d share something in common in about 15 minutes.
My order was ready 7 minutes later. I sat down and reached into the bag, feeling the heat from the madelines before I even got to them. My first bite was delicious. The little lemon cake was so sweet, but not too sweet; buttery, but not too greasy. And very moist. It was perfect. They sort of condense when you bite into them, and then you can watch them slowly fluff back up when you let go. It was so fresh. Oh it was very good!
They bake everything in the back. The kitchen is enclosed in glass windows, so you can watch the bakers as they work. I bet you could even take notes and recreate their recipes at home. But I’m sure they’ll miss that Ansel touch.
The Dominique Ansel Bakery was an experience, to say that very least. If only to go and taste a batch of madeleines from the famed pastry chef is worth it. Try them out. And let me know if anything else is good.
Stay tuned on Tuesday for a special announcement!