As if inventing the cronut (aka one of the world’s most famous pastries) wasn’t enough, Dominique Ansel has branched out into new territories to bring us Treehouse, a two-storey, day-to-night café and restaurant on Floral Street. Here, pastries can be enjoyed earlier in the day, while savoury dishes – most of which also feature a pastry element – are the order of the day for lunch and dinner.
Outside Dominique Ansel Treehouse. Photo: Ed Schofield
Stroll along Floral Street and you can’t miss Treehouse. Shrouded in fairy lights and greenery, with a wonky wooden structure perched in front of its first-floor window, the restaurant looks every bit its namesake. The space is just as playful inside, too, with foliage snaking up the walls and creeping along the ceiling, while wooden interiors, more fairy lights and sunken seating are likely to reawaken a childlike sense of wonder in its visitors.
Nostalgia is likely to strike again as you peer over the ground-floor counter, where row upon row of colourful, glossy tarts – each a miniature work of art – will have you arguing with yourself over which to pick. Then there are the pastries which, of course, are Ansel’s speciality. Here, a waitress tells us, the DKA (Dominique’s Kouign Amann) is the star turn: a circular pastry with a crunchy caramelised crust and layered, croissant-like centre.
From left to right: croissants, pain au chocolat, the lauded DKA. Photo: Ed Schofield
Don’t come in search of the cronut, though. Ansel is keeping his famed croissant-doughnut hybrid on lockdown at his Belgravia bakery in order to give his other, newer creations a chance to breathe.
In fact, why come at all if not to see how Ansel swaps sweet for savoury? The restaurant menu is split up into small plates, larger plates and desserts. Of the former, the ‘pillowy gnocchi’ is not to be missed. Comfort food at its finest, the fluffy parcels come submerged in a gooey sauce of mimolette and comté, flecks of confit Ligurian lemon lending it a grown-up edge. Do get the bread basket, too: a showcase of the variety of things Ansel and team can do with dough. And the Burrata, with its slivers of radish and light drizzling of olive oil, was one of the best we’ve ever had. For pastry stalwarts, there's a cream of plum tomato soup en croûte, for which diners must tap into a puff pastry topping that flakes into the soup as a substitute for bread.
Pillowy gnocchi from the menu at Dominique Ansel Treehouse. Photo: Ed Schofield
Of the larger plates, the roasted baby chicken, which came smothered in a lemon and garlic rub, stands out, presented as a loving tribute to Ansel’s French roots. The bed of stuffing nestled under the chicken sung with seasoned flavour.
Of the desserts, a sharing plate of sticky toffee pudding came bundt pan-shaped, filled with hunks of chewy dates, and with a toffee and custard sauce slow-drizzled on top (still your appetite: said slow drizzling takes place tableside and you must watch before you eat). There’s also a chocolate mousse – a fun one for kids with its mix-your-own toppings (caramelised hazelnuts and dark chocolate shards among them), and a ‘cascade tiramisu’ spectacular-looking enough to induce gasps of delight on its arrival.
The pastry chef has created six new tarts for Dominique Ansel Treehouse. Photo: Ed Schofield
All in all, the menu comes together as a flair-filled, passion-injected take on rustic home cooking. What’s more, Dominique Ansel Treehouse is licensed, so you can enjoy your pastry, pasta, poule or pud with a glass of crisp champagne or, like us, with a bottle of the house viognier. Fruity and dry in equal measure, it hit all the right notes.
|What||Dominique Ansel Treehouse, Covent Garden review|
|Where||Dominique Ansel Treehouse, 24 Floral Street, Covent Garden , London , WC2E 9DP | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|