Who doesn’t love a fancy French bakery? Until recently, world-renowned pastry chef, Dominique Ansel, had exclusively run his bakery and restaurant in New York. With lines that start as early as 6 a.m., it remains one of the city’s favorites — even after six years. So, when I learned that the French-born chef was opening up an LA location, I couldn’t stop fangirling. Even from India, I was already making plans to go try it.
One week into the semester, a friend and I decided to pay a visit to The Grove, where the bakery is located. Once you enter the bakery, you’ll run into the dilemma that is choosing what to eat among so many classics. I love trying unique, never-heard-of foods, and thus, ended up ordering most of their specials.
Here’s a rundown of what I ate:
Sour Cherry Orange Blossom Olive Oil Cronut
Priced at a reasonable $6, this is the first cronut I ever had. It honestly looked beautiful. Chef Ansel’s famous croissant-donut hybrid pastry was both flaky and tasty, and the sour cherry jam filling was exceptionally good. Though I must admit that it was a bit too sweet for my taste, it is still a classic must-try for everyone with a sweet-tooth.
Fun Fact: With a knack for experimentation, the bakery changes its cronut flavors monthly. Will I be trying other cronut flavors from the bakery? Absolutely, and so should you.
Avocado Toast Ice Cream
This made-for-LA creation is both unique and delicious. On top of a shortbread cookie comes the avocado-mascarpone ice cream, sprinkled with Maldon salt, dragon fruit, and dried raspberries. This was, hands down, one of the most beautifully presented ice creams I have ever seen. For only $8.50, it is one of those things you just have to try at least once, solely for the experience. The Avocado Toast Ice Cream is just another Ansel creation done right.
Featuring Tahitian vanilla ice cream, covered in crisp chocolate, and then stuffed into a marshmallow, the Frozen S’mores is an absolute must-try. Priced at $7.25, this s’mores comes on a fancy wooden stick and is torched right in front of you, allowing you to witness the marshmallow develop a beautiful, golden exterior.
Served only after 3 p.m., this creation has always fascinated me. There are two versions of the $4.75 Chocolate Chip Cookie Shot, which is served with cold-infused Tahitian vanilla milk. However, the Adult Cookie Shot, priced at $14.50, is served with the bakery’s homemade Irish Cream. Created using high-end chocolate, the soft, warm cookie doesn’t break or get too soggy when combined with the milk. Towards the last few bites, you get silky melted chocolate, which adds to the tasty experience. For those who aren’t afraid to drop a few extra bucks, the bakery also sells packed versions of the cookie shot with bottled milk.
Salted Caramel Éclair
For now, Ansel only serves two eclairs. I got the Salted Caramel, priced at $6.75, as a gift for a friend who loved it. After trying it, he stated, “The flavors were spot on, and the caramel was perfect–not too sweet. The salt wasn’t overpowering either.”
Nutella Milk Bread
The moment I read ‘Nutella,’ I knew I just had to go for it. A tender milk brioche filled with Nutella, this creation contained a good balance of flavors, though the chocolatey sweetness you usually see in other Nutella desserts wasn’t there. While I do wish it was filled with more Nutella, I still think I spent my $6.25 in just the right way.
While a possible drawback of reading about food and chefs online are the unrealistic expectations you may experience, Dominique Ansel truly delivered. To me, given his reputation in New York, the food wasn’t overpriced. If you know your taste palate and the flavors you love, you’ll immensely enjoy this bakery! And if you’re anything like me and would love to try and experiment, it is the place to be!