Monday, January 19, 2015

Food Watch: Next up from the Cronut™ man: a six-course dessert tasting menu paired with cocktails


No, there won't be any Cronuts™ at Dominique Ansel's new café in Manhattan's West Village, but there will be an after-hours chef's table with a six-course dessert tasting menu paired with cocktails.

"A sample tasting menu presented to Community Board 2 last week would start with a dish titled 'Bread and Butter,' made from yeast ice cream and brown butter mousse, paired with a 'milkshake' cocktail of mezcal, lemon blossom, honey and egg whites."

by Ken

CB2's district
Alas for the members of the liquor licensing committee of Manhattan's Community Board 2, I'm assuming that all they were presented at Thursday night's meeting was the menu and not a "tasting menu" in the usually understood sense of the actual victuals. Otherwise Community Boarding is a sweeter gig than I assumed, being obliged in the line of duty to indulge in "a dish titled 'Bread and Butter,' made from yeast ice cream and brown butter mousse, paired with a 'milkshake' cocktail of mezcal, lemon blossom, honey and egg whites."

Up for board consideration was the desire of Dominique Ansel to obtain a liquor license for his new restaurant, Dominique Ansel Kitchen, to be opened in the spring at 137 Seventh Avenue, in the West Village. Mr. Ansel, of course, is the proprietor of the SoHo bakery that bears his name, at 189 Spring Street, and is probably best known as the creator-trademarker of the widely admired, craved, imitated, and just plain ripped-off Cronut ™. As far as I know, each day's limited supply of Cronuts continue to be snapped up by waiting lines of customers.

The first floor of Dominique Ansel Kitchen is to be occupied by a 36-seat café (plus 26 outdoor seats) of Mr. Ansel's devising, which is to say not your everyday café. but one stressing "the idea of freshness," according to Ansel spokeperson Amy Ma, as reported by DNAinfo New York's Danielle Tcholakian, including folded-to-order chocolate mousse and cookies baked every half-hour. However, the feature attracting attention will be on the second floor, where after the café's 7pm closing there will be two nightly sittings at a chef's table seating eight to ten, where lucky patrons will be served the promised six-course dessert tasting menu, which will offer pairings of desserts and cocktails. The eats are planned to be priced at $65; the accompanying cocktails haven't been priced yet.

The sample menu presented to the CB2 committee began, as noted above, with the dish of "Bread and Butter" and its accompanying "milkshake" made of mezcal, lemon blossom, honey and egg whites. Other items on the tasting menu, Danielle reports,
included: a rhubarb carpaccio paired with a carbonated gin float of strawberry and rose sorbet; Fromage Blanc Ile Flottante (Floating Island) "Alphabet Soup Style" paired with Riesling granita; a shiso sorbet palate cleanser; a "modern Crepe Suzette" paired with a cocktail of cognac, sugar, lemon and champagne; a warm chocolate financier paired with a shot of creme de cacao, coffee and angostura bitters; and a bittersweet chocolate praline cake paired with port topped with apricot whipped cream.

The tasting menu would conclude with tiny petit four cakes accompanied by coffee or tea.
The CB2 committee, Danielle reports, gave "grudging approval" for the liquor license, though that approval is only advisory. CB approval is neither required nor sufficient for a liquor license, which is only issued by the State Liquor Authority. Committee chair Carter Booth voiced petulance at the perennial sidewalk-hogging lines of the Spring Street bakery ("A lot of people would agree that it's an affront," he said), and said he still doesn't understand the need to serve alcohol at the new place, in an area that "has been identified by elected officials as oversaturated."
Spokesperson Ma noted that the lines at Dominique Ansel Bakery are just for Cronuts, and there won't be any Cronuts on the premises of Dominique Ansel Kitchen. Ms. Ma explained to the committee:
Our team is very talented. We want them to have a way to not make Cronuts everyday, to really develop their skills.
Naturally the evening dessert tasting sessions will be by reservation only. Don't expect reservations to be easy to come by.

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