Before my wife and I went to New York, I was given some recommendations for places to eat. Things to do in NYC are pretty easy to come by, but culinary treasures are the word-of-mouth currency by which forever-credibility is gained.
Point me to food that I genuinely love, and I’ll believe you forever.
When my colleague’s daughter told us that “you get your cronuts at the Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo,” I thought to myself: Are cronuts a commodity? Her wording was very specific. As in, “You get your milk at the Village Grocery,” or “You get your insurance from the State Farm guy up on the hill.” This made it sound like cronuts were something that any self-respecting New Yorker had to have.
Turns out she was right.
The second curious piece to her recommendation was the “at the Dominique Ansel Bakery” part. Is this place a New York chain? A national chain? While there have been other locations (London and Los Angeles), I believe the New York location at 189 Spring Street in SoHo is it.
Who is Dominique Ansel?
He’s a 43-year-old pastry chef who invented this thing, the Cronut. What’s a Cronut? It’s a combination croissant-donut, and it was all the rage in 2013-14. It’s trademarked, btw, so nobody else can rightfully be selling a capital-C-Cronut. Turns out there are lots of places that try to make and sell lowercase-C cronuts.
However, I’m not doing this thing, the capital-C Cronut, any justice.
Do you remember how our moms used to make donuts before you’d just buy them at the donut place? My mom would fry dough (canned biscuits) and put sugar and cinnamon on it. They were basic but glorious. That’s what the croissant part of the Cronut mostly reminds me of, although it also reminds me of a croissant. It’s a level up from a basic croissant.
The Cronut is filled with a cream or fruity delight and topped with icing. If I am remembering correctly, it’s best to let the Cronut get to room temperature before eating, as opposed to inhaling it straight from the oven. There’s also what I consider to be a very-Seinfeld element to the experience: the Dominique Ansel Bakery only allows for two Cronuts per person, and there is only one flavor per month.
The May 2021 flavor was Guava Orange Blossom, which I was unsure of because it didn’t match my hope for a chocolate, vanilla, butterscotch or something equally basic. Also, I don’t do fruit unless I’m feeling malnourished.
This was genuinely the best pastry experience of my life.
We didn’t eat the first Cronut until day-after because of the baker’s recommendation to allow the Cronut to hit room temperature. Besides, we had purchased other items we could eat on a bench nearby the bakery. Patience was a virtue, and even the second day-after, it was perfection.
If you’ve never been, you can anticipate a line. However, it wasn’t a long wait for us on what was a moderately rainy Saturday morning in Manhattan. We were about 7th or 8th in line, and the wait was about 30 minutes to get inside the store where there was another line.
Long story short: Next time you go to New York, this is a must for your itinerary. Oh, and you can sign up to get an email from Dominique Ansel Bakery for the opportunity to have four (4) Cronuts mailed to you.
And there is a 100 percent chance that I signed up and a 100 percent chance that mail-order Cronuts are in our future.