Lauded as the World’s Best Pastry Chef by the World’s 50 Best Awards, Dominique Ansel is thrilled to announce the opening of his new Treehouse Bistro & Bakery in Covent Garden’s quaint Floral Street this month. Delightfully the Treehouse theme begins before you walk through the door as the tree clad walls of the bistro are home to lots of tiny little bird houses.
This is Dominque’s second London venue but he also has restaurants in New York, LA, Hong Kong and Dubai. He is perhaps most well-known for his creation of the Cronut®, the croissant-doughnut hybrid pastry that continues to draw lines each morning at his shops around the world, but Chef Dominique has decided not to bring his signature pastry to the Dominique Ansel Treehouse menu. Try not to be too disappointed as this opens up an opportunity for Chef Dominique to create something entirely new, to showcase those classic pastry techniques in a creative savoury interpretation, set within in a casual bistro setting.
Located on quaint Floral Street, this completely new concept from Chef Dominique offers a menu that celebrates and showcases the pastry foundations and artisanal techniques that pastry chefs do best; from flaky puff pastry to delicate handmade pasta, short crusts for pies and tarts, fresh-baked breads, including a sourdough made using a levain first started by Chef Dominique in his New York Bakery 8 years ago, allows him to bring a small piece of home to his new home in London.
Opening the door guests will be greeted with the takeaway bakery counter, filled with beautiful pastries, desserts, and handmade French Viennoiserie such as flaky croissants as well as Chef Dominique’s signature DKA, Dominique’s Kouign Amann, similar to a caramelised croissant. This is a best-seller in all his shops around the world so should certainly be on your ‘must eat’ list. A selection of tempting fresh tarts will also be available. The space is relaxed, with a casual seating area, from where the tree stretches upwards through the ceiling.
Upstairs the modern treehouse design is inspired by exploration and imagination and as we climb the stairs we arrive in the “treetop canopy”. The tree’s canopy spreads across the ceiling and is very much the centre of attention. We have now arrived in the Tree House, a secret space, somewhere you maybe escaped to as a child, perhaps storing secrets and personal items such as photos and books. The space is large, light and airy; tables are set generously apart so you don’t feel cramped or uncomfortably close to your neighbouring diners. Opposite our table were cosy little Tree House themed dining tables for two, perfect for a lovers’ tryst…
I am enjoying a glass of Champagne and relaxing while I peruse the menu. I have invited my Accountant to dine with me (not my most exciting date but sometimes needs must) and he is fashionably late – isn’t that my job? So I take my server’s advice and order the bread basket – I do love bread – but this selection of tasty morsels is so gorgeous I have to be very strict with myself and curb my appetite If I am going to do justice to the rest of the menu.
The Accountant arrives – he had been stuck in a meeting – with no escape possible – but I am glad to have the company – anything is better than eating alone. He immediately makes an enthusiastic inroad into the bread basket which includes gorgeous Sourdough, Garlicky Olive-oil Focaccia, Lavash, Buttery Brioche and Ciabatta and Olives. All simply melt in the mouth and are a promise of what is still to come.
We peruse the menu – I have never seen my Accountant so excited! He is beside himself… Between you and me I don’t think he gets out much. We ask for advice from our server Rejoice, how many small plates can we eat between us? She is very knowledgeable and helpful so we try to follow her advice – three small plates and two large plates was the plan but as we begin to choose we decide to go for five small plates and see how we feel, whether that was pure greed or temptation or a combination of both I will let you decide.
The Small Plates
First to hit our taste buds was the Camembert Fondue with Croissant Crisps – so delicious and decadent – there is something about melted cheese that makes me go weak at the knees, and this was no exception. We followed this with Cream of Plum Tomato soup en Croute with Thyme and a splash of Cognac. We had to break through the pastry crust to reach the creamy soup which was delicately flavoured and surprisingly light – the crust had also kept it piping hot. Next we enjoyed Buratta, three radishes, Olive-oil, Sourdough Crostini which was a popular choice for both of us and slipped down a treat. The Accountant observed that the flaked radish really cleared the palate before we moved on to our next dish. That dish was Chicken Liver Mousse Mille Feuille with Candied Mandarin and Brown Butter “Dust” which was another favourite. The Mille Feuille made a lighter accompaniment than the usual toast and simply melted in the mouth. Our last small plate was Pillowy Gnocchi, Mimolette & Comte Sauce, Confit Ligurian Lemon, Parmesan, which excited our taste buds yet again, perfectly light, soft and fluffy Gnocchi, which, Dominic informed us was down to the addition of baking powder in the Gnocchi. We both agreed that Dominque is certainly a master of his trade and is pushing the boundaries of baking inventiveness and creativity.
I was very full at this moment in time (and wanted to leave room for dessert – more on that later) but my Accountant was persuaded to try a larger plate – we didn’t even have to twist his arm – he rose to the challenge and ordered Steamed Brioche Pudding, Salt Marsh Lamb and Baby Carrots. It was an easy choice for him as lamb is his favourite meat and he wasn’t disappointed. He polished the dish off with surprising ease and declared it to be succulent, juicy and tender, in other words a huge success.
Needless to say we washed down all these tempting dishes with a glass or two of Boutique wine – all wines are on tap in the Tree House and I very much enjoyed my light and fruity rose. The accountant chose a light white wine with the small plates and a full-bodied red with the lamb.
And now to dessert – a course that has always held a special place in my heart. The Accountant suggested we had probably had enough and should give it a miss but I was having none of that! Here I must admit I had some previous knowledge and overrode any other suggestions from the Accountant – it had to be the Cascade Tiramisu. Why you ask? And he did too. Well, when I arrived the lady sitting at the next table ordered the Tiramusu – and cascade it did most impressively. I immediately asked what she had ordered and stated my intention to have the same. A cliché I know, but it truly did melt in the mouth, the texture was soft, moist, creamy and simply heavenly. A word of warning this dessert is designed to serve two-three people (I would suggest to you that it could serve four or even five less greedy people quite easily). As a mere two already sated diners we ate a decent portion each but still had enough left over for two goodie bags to take home to share the joy with our families.
To sum up our experience; the décor is beautiful, the staff are welcoming, knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. And the menu? To be honest I would struggle to think of a meal I have enjoyed more – it was a delightful culinary experience from start to finish – I would give it five stars. I love the idea of sharing smaller plates among friends – it somehow seems more social and fun. To sum up, my advice to you is visit the Treehouse and enjoy it for yourself I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Dominique Ansel Treehouse
24 Floral Street
London WC2E 9DP