by Tara, New York Guest Concierge
After reading so much about the delicious dessert that had taken the city by storm since May, I decided to use one of my days off to finally get my hands on one of the sweet must haves of the summer. Being no stranger to waiting in line for hours on end (from free concerts to standing room tickets to meeting celebrities at conventions) I figured it was worth a go, especially for something so delicious!
My journey to the Dominique Ansel Bakery began at 5am. Multiple sites recommend getting there before 6:45 to make sure you get one before they sell out. On average they make around 250 a day and only 2 cronuts are allowed person. I arrived at 6:30 and could see the line as I exited the Spring Street stop which already reached around the corner from the bakery. I counted myself 89th in line. There were many different types of people on the line; guys in business suits, families, interns, tourists, even two young girls playing card games on a blanket. By the time my coworker arrived ten minutes later 20 people had already lined up behind me. I would have liked her to join me, but an argument I witnessed minutes before between a man who had come to meet his friend in line and a man that had lined up behind them showed me that this kind of thing is frowned upon, so she had to go to the back of the line.
Over the next hour and a half several people would walk past and ask what the line was for (each one gave a confused or incredulous face when they were told we were waiting for the cronut), one even walked by and referred to us as “Cronies”, which I’m guessing is the name of the cronut fans. Several people (including myself) got out of the line just to take pictures of how long the line was. Finally 8 o’ clock came and the line began to move along, the workers came out from time to time to move us to free the sidewalk and to answer any questions. They had also come out with a plate of treats, but I’m lead to think that they were only for the front of the line as I didn’t get one. I found out that the bakery had made 325 cronuts to sell for the day, but also 200 for their preorders (which you don’t have to wait in line for if you are lucky enough to get through to call in Monday mornings) and also 600 for a segment they were doing for the Jimmy Fallon show. They only let in around 15-20 people at a time, so even though they opened at 8, I did not get in until 9am.
When you finally reach the doors, which at this point felt like the golden gates, Mr. Ansel himself is there to hold open the door for you. The shop really is on the small side like most bakeries (even Cake Boss’ Carlo’s Bakery is on the small side!) so to have a limit of 15-20 people makes the atmosphere much less hectic than the outside line. The workers at the bakery could not have been nicer and treat you as if you are visiting on a nice relaxing day (as if there was not a huge line of over 100 people outside). They also had some classic rock piping through to create a very nice vibe. We were ushered to the back of the bakery where there is a window so you can see the chefs baking and preparing. I watched as they used pastry bags to inject cream and the blackberry goodness inside. They are then brought to the front where the icing and small sprinkle of lime was added.
My time at the register finally arrived and in addition to the cronuts I had also ordered the frozen smore which I had also read about online. The frozen smore is a giant marshmallow that holds a center of vanilla ice cream and chocolate. The marshmallow is placed on a hibiscus stick and then burned to order with a torch. (To answer your question, YES! It is as delicious as it sounds. )
Sadly, by the time my coworker reached the bakery she had run out of time and had to leave for work, so she only had time to purchase a coffee and a DKA (Dominique’s Kouign Amann). I decided to do the right thing and give her one of my two cronuts to which she traded her DKA. When she left I went into their back garden; they actually have two, one air conditioned, and one outside. I wanted to save my cronut for home so I enjoyed the frozen smore and the DKA. They were both delicious and surprisingly available without having to wait on the long line (which is only for the cronuts). The smore was a lovely gooey, cold, and sweet bite all rolled into one and the DKA reminded me of the flavor of the old pretzel butter cookies with the sugar “salt” that would come in the blue tin (which were always my favorite) but of course it was so much more fresh and delicious. As I told a friend, you could taste the butter, sugar, and love. There were a few birds in the garden as well; I shared a bit with one and felt for a few minutes as if I were back in Paris. I was amazed that despite this bakery’s newfound popularity they are still able to keep this relaxed atmosphere. As I left with my golden box The Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun was playing and Dominique Ansel held open the door for me and thanked me for coming; which could not have been a more perfect ending.
After all that the big question- How was the Cronut? Was it worth waiting for? Is it really like taking a bite out of Heaven? A resounding yes! Though it may seem silly, it felt good to finally hold the thing that I had wanted and waited for so long. The cronut as a whole was fresh and delicious and the little bit of lime added just the right amount of tart to the blackberry. I’m excited to try the August flavor… coconut!
Tips and tricks:
- Do your research, check out yelp reviews and also the Dominque Ansel Website http://dominiqueansel.com/cronut-101/ It’s also good to know what you want to get before you get inside so that the lines move along and the people in line behind you are less likely to be feisty. (I HIGHLY recommend the Frozen Smore and the DKA)
- Get there early! Especially if you plan to go on a weekend. Plan for 6-6:30am, some even get there for 5am.
- Be sure to bring a book or something that can keep you entertained for 2 or more hoursGet there as a group; you cannot meet up with friends already in line and friends cannot meet up with you; from what I have witnessed this is strictly enforced by other people on the line.
- Visit the garden in the back; after waiting for hours to get inside you may as well, it’s like a little Paris café within SoHo.
- If you’d like a Cronut without waiting in line, they do take 2 week advance preorders on Monday mornings at 11am. It is very difficult and only the lucky get through. Or there is always Craigslist or some that offer a Cronut delivery service, but those often charge around $50-100 per order and also might not be that reliable. Though it is far more rewarding to just take one morning and wait in the line.