Dominique Ansel Treehouse | Covent Garden Restaurant
Dominique Ansel’s second London patisserie is inspired by nostalgia.
But don’t worry if you don’t remember the first.
In fact, you’ve probably heard of him even if you’ve never tasted his pastries – his most famous creation is the Cronut; a croissant-donut fusion which still causes lines out the door in New York, and which Time Magazine branded one of the best inventions of the year. He also won a James Beard award for Best Pastry Chef in the U.S. (they’re basically the Oscars of the food world), and is the youngest person ever to have won the title of World’s Best Pastry Chef from the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
And now you’ve got another place to try his food.
He’s calling it the Dominique Ansel Treehouse, and it’s all inspired by an idyllic childhood spent playing in treehouses and dining on critically acclaimed, world-renowned food. You’ll find it tucked just behind Long Acre in Covent Garden, sprouting out of the secluded Floral Court and fronted by twisting tree branches and a treehouse-style window.
On the ground-floor is the patisserie, where you can watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen and peruse exquisite pastries, tarts, and Viennoisserie to eat in or take away. The focus here, however, is on sit-down meals: head up the stairs and you’ll find yourself in the treehouse-styled bistro.
At its heart is a huge ‘tree trunk’ coiled with ropes which spin off like branches across the ceiling, festooned with twinkling lights and fake blossoms. It’s very much taking a leaf out of Megan’s or Redfarm’s book with the decor, and will probably find immense popularity on instagram. And there are lovely ideas here – cute, ‘birdbox’-shaped booths; a collection of childhood toys and trinkets; and boxy, blanketed seating that gives the impression of everyone enjoying a communal picnic under the tree’s boughs. The lighting’s also nicely dimmed for evening service, but there are occasional touches that make it feel better suited to daytime dining – the printed forest backdrops on the walls keep it casual, and the picnic seating – while good-looking – doesn’t offer much respite for your back during a three-course meal. 21 year-olds may not have this problem.
Which brings us to the food. This man is insanely talented. And he’s recruited only the top pastry chefs to represent him here.
The whole idea behind the Treehouse is to showcase the overlooked talents of the pastry chefs; who carry out some of the most precise, scientific work in the kitchen. To start your meal, there are bread baskets that demonstrate the breadth of their talents – served with smooth Edinburgh butter, there’s pillowy garlic focaccia; sweet, springy brioche and salty, crisp lavash. From then on, the menu is arranged into small and large plates to share, picnic-style – Comté-drenched, melt-in-the-mouth gnocchi of a texture you’ll have rarely encountered before; a stack of mille feuille piped with chicken liver pâté; caramelle – sweet-shaped pasta parcels – served in a creamy golden tomato sauce. Each dish will give you that eyes-closed, happy-dance first bite.
The desserts are all designed for the table to share, from chocolate mousse with DIY toppings to sticky toffee pudding – which is in fact, an entire cake drizzled at your table in toffee and custard sauce, which slowly marbles as it’s poured. The showmanship of the servers and the expertise of the chefs makes for a very special experience.
But here’s the thing – each of these dishes could easily be the richest, most indulgent dish at any other restaurant. So if you’ve worked your way through a substantial part of the menu, you should be prepared for the onset of a cheese and carb-based stupor. Better to dip in here for lunch with a group, so that you can try more dishes and reduce the portion load.
You probably won’t struggle to find volunteers.
NOTE: Dominique Ansel Treehouse opens tomorrow (7th February). You can find out more, and make a booking, HERE.
Dominique Ansel Treehouse | 24 Floral Street, WC2E 9DP
Liked this place? Check out the original London spot.