Head to Dominique Ansel London for high-end patisserie with a unique and playful twist
What’s the background?
Dominique Ansel London is the eponymous patisserie from the current World’s Best Pastry Chef. Opened last year, this store is his first in Europe and follows on the successes of his New York and Tokyo outposts, with another to open in LA later this year. He’s most associated with his viral creation the Cronut – a decadent hybrid between a croissant and doughnut – but look beyond this and you’ll find plenty of equally tempting treats. The French-born, New York-based chef has a distinctive and playful style, backed up by his extensive technical background, having previously held top positions at the likes of Fauchon and Daniel.
While Victoria itself is not the most picturesque part of London, the careful design of the bakery makes this an idyllic bolthole in an area perhaps best known for its giant bus station (which at least makes it easy to get here). The large space given over to its counters is a sight to behold, showcasing the diversity of its offering, from longer-lasting edible gifts to made-to-order specials. The room itself is light, airy and modern, with a good amount of seating; stop by for a leisurely lunch and take advantage of the menu of savoury dishes that are offered alongside the sweets. More unusually, there’s also a small garden towards the back, which provides a secluded spot to enjoy a bit of sun, should the weather cooperate.
What’s on offer?
Dominique Ansel London must have one of the largest and most diverse array of cakes, pastries, biscuits, desserts and more available in the capital, which makes choosing all that harder. The viennoiserie is the headline act, including in its lineup the aforementioned Cronut, which changes flavour every month. For a while these would sell out fairly early in the day, but now the hype has died down it does seem easier to get your hands on, although you can now preorder if you don’t fancy taking the risk. While delicious, I’m perhaps even more enamoured with the DKA – Dominique’s take on the Breton kouign-amann – with its rich, buttery layers of caramelised pastry. There’s a reason why Ansel himself says he has one for breakfast everyday.
Other famous creations include the Chocolate Chip Cookie Shot, where you can indulge your inner child with a cup-shaped cookie filled to the brim with Tahitian-vanilla milk, and the impressive Frozen S’mores, consisting of ice cream wrapped with marshmallow and toasted to order. Then there’s the London specials, from the Paris-London (a take on a Paris-Brest) to the Eton Mess Lunchbox, designed to be shaken up before eating.
What to choose?
The Cronut alone is worth the trip, but don’t leave without trying something else from the counter. I’ve probably tried around half the menu and am yet to be disappointed, so it’s hard to go wrong. While there’s a core collection of staples that remain largely the same, the shop also regularly features limited-time specials which are worth keeping an eye out for.
What’s the damage?
A Cronut will cost you £4, while a petit gateau from the counter is more around the £6 mark. Yes, it’s pricey, and yes, to an extent you’re paying for the name. But in this case that name brings you an innovative take on patisserie unlike anywhere else in the capital. A personal favourite, Dominique Ansel London should be top of the list to visit.
Dominique Ansel London, 17-21 Elizabeth Street, SW1W 9RP; dominiqueansellondon.com