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This week on Ask the Critic: You've heard about cronuts, Dominique Ansel's croissant-doughnut hybrid. Are they worth the line?
Are Cronuts Worth the Line?
I can't stop hearing about "cronuts" from Dominique Ansel. I was visiting friends in Philadelphia last weekend from NY and more than one person asked me if I'd tried them. Even friends who don't care about food have forwarded me articles about cronuts. Tell it to me straight: are they worth it? Am I missing out by not standing in line?
In a word? No.
But let me qualify that.
Dominique Ansel is a superb bakery; it's been my favorite in Manhattan since it opened a year and a half ago. Ansel sells the best pastry I've ever eaten, anywhere, ever: the DKA (Dominique's Kouign-Amman). At Serious Eats, you know it's a special day when the DKAs show up. A half-dozen appeared for my birthday. They played a starring role in my goodbye breakfast when I left the Serious Eats office.
Want something (dare I say it) better than a cronut? Show up to Dominique Ansel after opening. (Although not too late, because other baked goods can sell out too.) Walk in, no crazed scalpers in sight, and pick up a few DKAs. They've got everything you're looking for. Crazy crisped-up croissant dough edges and layers? Check. Something even sweeter and richer within? Check. A supremely tasty pastry, and something you've probably never had before? Check.
There's no secondary market for DKAs, but to me, that's a positive. I can actually, you know, buy one.
Are cronuts delicious? Well, yes. But is anything of a single serving worth $30, bought from a shady guy on Craigslist delicious? I'd venture a no.
I have nothing but respect for Dominique Ansel and think his bakery deserves every bit of attention it's getting. But the guy is no one-hit wonder, no gimmick-maker, and I hope people don't think of him that way. Clearly, he's hit upon a brilliant (or at least wildly popular) idea, and hey, more power to him. But he's not a cronut machine. I've had out-of-town friends ask me about cronuts, too. My response? Dominique Ansel is a fabulous bakery. Go there. Get a DKA. Get a few warm, baked-to-order madeleines, or crisp-edged canelés. Or anything else. And hey, if you somehow hit cronut hour? Do it.
But to get up before dawn and wait in line with people who may never have heard of Dominique Ansel before, who don't really care if they get the best pastry—just need the cronut that everyone's talking about? Not so much.
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