By 6 a.m. on Friday, October 21, devoted fans from around the country lined up to enter Dominique Ansel Las Vegas at Caesars Palace — the first and only location on the West Coast and one of four in the world. The James Beard Award-winning pastry chef is best known as the creator of the Cronut, which he debuted in New York’s Soho neighborhood in May 2013 after repeated coaxing by his then-girlfriend-now-wife who wanted him to offer a doughnut at his shop for Mother’s Day. As a Frenchman who prefers light, flaky pastries, it took two months to perfect the viral pastry’s recipe. Now, Ansel presents a new monthly Cronut flavor that is unique to each of his locations. Once the month is over, the flavor is never repeated anywhere — it’s gone forever.
“I’ve never missed a single Cronut flavor,” proudly declared a guest from New York who flew in for one night, just to attend the opening. Las Vegas’ inaugural Cronut is Lucky Cherry Chambord and Caramelia, inspired by the cherries found in slot machines, and it will be available through November. The newest croissant-doughnut hybrid is rolled in sugar and glazed with cherry Chambord icing on top. Inside the doughnut’s flaky layers, a tart cherry Chambord jam is balanced by a rich, caramelized milk chocolate, making the Cronut simultaneously light and decadent without being too sweet.
Located just off the casino floor next to Gordon Ramsay Pub, the cheery orange and white space could be mistaken for a simple coffee shop, offering nitro cold brew, double espressos, and other coffee drinks. However, an enveloping, buttery scent and a closer look beneath the milky white globes that glow above the service area reveal that there is nothing ordinary about the treats behind the glass. A mountain of freshly baked, pillowy croissants immediately grabs your attention at the front, and further down the long counter lay a rainbow of macarons, delicately decorated confections, and a selection of savory sandwiches and quiche—including the Perfect Little Egg Sandwich and Chef’s Croque Monsieur—all with Gruyere as a common French touch.
The bakery also offers Ansel’s best-selling DKA (that stands for Dominique’s Kouign Amann, almost like a sweet French muffin with layers and a caramelized crust), chocolate chip cookie shot glasses filled to order with Madagascar vanilla milk, hand-torched frozen s’mores, and baked-to-order mini Madeleines. Finally, prominently situated in the middle of the display, is Ansel’s Lucky 7, a capsule collection of pastries that can only be found at the Caesars Palace location.
“Luck is important in Las Vegas, and I wanted to tell a story with my pastries based on these traditional symbols,” said Ansel. The Lucky 7 includes a four-leaf clover made of coffee mousse topped with hazelnut dacquoise, dark chocolate cremeux, and crispy feuilletine. There’s also an evil eye eclair filled with cassis jam and Valrhona Caramelia whipped ganache. The inventive pastries are Ansel’s clever interpretations of good luck charms around the world.
Standing opposite the Lucky 7 and along the back wall are shelves with retail gifts-to-go such as croissant-emblazoned baseball caps, aprons, insulated cups, and cookbooks that sit between prepackaged cookies and pastel-colored mini meringues. A wavy banquette runs the length of the 1,100-square-foot venue that seats up to 20 guests for those who prefer to linger.
Although it has been in the works for years, the New York-based chef admits that his new location is still a work in progress as he familiarizes himself with Las Vegas’s robust food scene. “This will be a learning experience for me,” said Ansel, who has been impressed by restaurants on and off the Strip. “I am humbled to be here amongst the very best.”
Dominique Ansel Las Vegas at Caesars Palace is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.