I’ve long been a Dominique Ansel stan. He has such a unique way with pastry and manages to take traditional French desserts and make them so absolutely special. His SoHo bakery is best in class so I knew I needed to check out his new workshop space. There’s a gorgeous floral installation around the entrance, but don’t let that fool you – this is more of a no-frills spot, not meant for lingering. It’s a place to grab a cup of coffee and the latest pastry innovations.
Dominique Ansel Workshop is a small storefront attached to their commercial kitchens. Don’t go there expecting a massive pastry case like you’ll find at the flagship bakery. This is not where you go to get a cronut or frozen s’more. The selection here is far more curated.
There’s a coffee menu and a trio of traditional baguette sandwiches. And then there are the pastries. That’s what you came for, right? The spotlight here is on croissants. If you follow Dominique Ansel on social media, you know he regularly does a cross-section test of the flaky pastry to ensure none of those flaky pastries leaves the building without exhibiting the perfect airy layers. This workshop is practically devoted to perfecting and elevating this specific pastry.
Since I arrived at the end of the day, the already small pastry case was pretty picked over, but there were still a few delicious desserts up for grabs. I had to get a DKA, the Dominique’s Kouign Amann, which at this shop (compared to the SoHo location) is made with brown sugar. It’s basically a caramelized croissant. This brown sugar version tasted like monkey bread with the texture of a croissant. It was perfect. As someone who doesn’t love frosting, this is my kind of pastry.
Next I tried one of the more innovative croissants, the huckleberry vanilla riz au lait cube. It’s a brioche on the outside and a vanilla Arborio rice pudding with huckleberry jam on the inside. While I’m not someone who sits around eating rice pudding (or any pudding-y thing) on it’s own, I liked when it was inside a pastry, giving it some additional texture. And, since rice pudding is naturally more toothsome than cream, I much preferred this as a filling.
There’s no seating inside and just a table or two outside, but the move is to get a few things to go and enjoy them in Madison Square Park just a block away. I love this laser focus on the croissant. Dominique Ansel Workshop doesn’t just do the croissant right, it does it better.