It felt as though the earth shook when Dominique Ansel, arguably the world’s most famous pastry chef, announced not only that he would be expanding his empire to Los Angeles, but that it would be the site of his first-ever full-service restaurant. What could we expect from the classically-trained French chef? Would he focus on fine-dining? Would there be Cronuts?
Fortunately, as we approach the opening of both Dominique Ansel Bakery and his restaurant, 189 by Dominique Ansel, we’ve uncovered just enough details to sate our curiosity. (Of course, never enough details to satisfy our Cronut cravings.) When both open this November, tucked inside the Grove, the James Beard Award-winning pastry chef will plunge into a number of firsts: bar program, brunch, full savory menu. Here’s a bit more about what we can all expect from one of the season’s most anticipated openings from one of the pastry world’s most renowned figures.
The dual concept.
Dominique Ansel launched his first bakery in 2011, a 100-square-foot kitchen run by himself and four employees. A nod to that bakery’s original location—189 Spring Street—as well as the address of the Grove, 189 by Dominique Ansel draws upon his past, specifically his memories. The menu of his full-service restaurant is casual, intended for sharing, and will be inspired by dishes from Ansel’s childhood, as well as his emotional connection to specific ingredients.
While he is French-trained, don’t expect the cuisine’s traditional trappings. “I don’t want to put myself in a box where I’m a French chef so I must cook French food,” Ansel says. “Will we use French techniques? Yes. I was trained as a chef and I love cooking, but it will be more eclectic.”
On the first floor, Dominique Ansel Bakery will offer Ansel’s trademark pastries, plus a full coffee bar. The dual concept is Ansel’s most sizable undertaking yet, both in theory and in physical scale, which brings us to…
The 10,000-square-foot space.
The restaurant’s mammoth footprint sits just outside the main parking deck’s escalators near the fountain, the theater and the Apple store, and comes outfitted with a patio on the ground floor and a terrace on the second. Walk in through Dominique Ansel Bakery, the chef’s renowned pastry shop and confectionary, which already calls New York City, London and Tokyo home. Here in L.A., the bakery will function as a welcoming space where guests can enjoy a bite, connect to Wi-Fi and enjoy the light and airy surroundings designed by local outfit Studio Unltd (those of Bestia, Rose Cafe and Otium fame, to name a few). Upstairs, the design team set to work on outfitting 189 by Dominique Ansel with an open kitchen, a 20-seat bar and a 10-seat private dining room, and comfortable seating for roughly 120 guests.
Expect Ansel in the restaurant, especially the first six months after opening, though he’ll still be overseeing his other locations and traveling often. To helm the L.A. ship and bring his full-service dream to life, he’s hired executive chef Hyun Lee, formerly of the Bazaar by José Andrés in L.A. and Jean-Georges’s Culinary Concepts Hospitality Group in NYC. Born in Korea and raised in Argentina, his background and upbringing will contribute heavily to Ansel’s memory-driven menu, resulting in collaborative dishes that span continents.
Of course we’re all familiar with the Cronut, but the chef’s eponymous bakery is also the source of hundreds of other sugary, whimsical creations. (In fact, in Japan, the most popular item isn’t the Cronut but the Frozen S’more.) When Dominique Ansel Bakery opens this fall, you can taste your way into a sugar coma induced by none other than Ansel’s classics—the DKA (Dominique’s Kouign Amann), the Cookie Shot, the Frozen S’more and, of course, the Cronut—in addition to items created and served only here in L.A.
Ansel and co. now estimate a November opening for the bakery, brunch and dinner. While we’re sad we’ll have to be patient for even a week or two longer when it comes to getting our hands on those artful pastries—the bakery was originally slated to open in October—we’re fairly certain it’ll all be worth the wait. (Even if we’ll be waiting just to wait in line for Cronuts.)
By Stephanie B.