Treehouse, Covent Garden: A First Look Inside Dominique Ansel's New Restaurant
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It was to much hype that Cronut chef Dominique Ansel announced plans to build on his Belgravia empire with a second branch in Covent Garden.
He kept us waiting, and waiting, but 14 months later, Dominique Ansel Treehouse has finally opened its doors, dropped its ladder, and invited us in for a look around. The foliage arch around the front door leaves us in no doubt we're in the right place, the wooden treehouse frontage above serving as a quirky shop sign.
The ground floor makes up the bakery portion of the bakery-bistro set-up, a glass counter full of the pastries and cakes with which Ansel made his name, covered by a rustic wooden canopy. But we're here for the full experience, and are shown up the wooden staircase to the main restaurant, the 'treehouse' portion of the building. And it's a beauty.
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A rope tree forms the centrepiece, branches creeping across the ceiling in a canopy decked out in fairy lights and blossom, creating a romantic — and yes, Instagrammable — setting. Open booth style seating, hanging curtains and forest murals make for an intimate yet communal feel, and though it's cosy on a dark February night, we can imagine it looking just as gorgeous with sunlight streaming in on a summer evening. Glamping meets wedding venue is the overall vibe, and it's a classy one.
The menu, though brief, is broad, wending through soup, gnocchi, chicken millefeuille, lamb, bread and other dishes. It's carb central, basically. The plates, we are told, are sharers, and on the advice of staff, we order three from the small plates section, and two from the large section, to share between two of us.
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They arrive separately, leaving us just enough time to revel in the flavours of one dish before another turns up. The ricotta and cashew-filled caramelle is a strong start — or so we think, until the gnocchi arrives, blowing the caramelle out of our minds completely with its seductive creamy, lemony tones.
The soup's not any old soup either. Ansel's pastry passion presents itself in the form of a baked dome encasing the creamy tomato soup. We poke tentatively until a member of staff comes over and tells us that Ansel himself recommends giving the pastry a good stabbing and mixing it in with the soup. The man's not wrong.
We're about ready to retire for the night when we're reminded of one tiny detail we've overlooked — the two mains we've ordered, arriving at our table shortly. The boiled pudding with minted lamb splits opinion, but the chicken millefeuille is an addictive winner, its flaky pastry and salty filling keeping us nibbling until we really can't manage anymore.
Dessert? Oh, go on then. Truth be told, we've been eyeing up the chocolate mousse since we arrived, clocking it on the menu before we even got to the mains. Again, it's served as a sharer — this is definitely a date night restaurant, FYI — with toppings served in separate dishes in a create-your-own scenario. Cherries and caramelised nuts are mixed into our bowl with wild abandon, though we're a bit too heavy handed with the salt. Best leave the seasoning to the experts in future — especially when it's Ansel in the kitchen.
Dominique Ansel Treehouse, 24 Floral Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 9PD.
Last Updated 05 February 2020