First Look: A Palatial Ladurée Tea Salon Opens in Soho
Note: First Looks give previews of new dishes, drinks, and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
Here on Sweets, we've written a bit (ok, a lot) about the macaron craze that has swept New York over the past few years. And the trend shows no signs of abating. In fact, the city is still so gaga over macarons that it is eager to embrace not just one but two locations of Ladurée, the French luxury sweets house that is pretty much the be-all end-all of the now classic cookie.
Earlier this month, Ladurée Soho opened on West Broadway, bringing the patisserie's New York total to two—the original location opened on Madison Avenue just two and a half years ago—and its worldwide total to a whopping 53 stores that are scattered across the globe from Milan to Bangkok to Dubai.
The Soho store has attracted a lot of buzz, and upon entering the space it's easy to see why: it's huge and ornately furnished, styled as it is at the original Ladurée location on Rue Royale in Paris. A white marble pastry counter dominates the front room, called the Paéva Salon; overhead, pale purple clouds adorn the ceiling and Greco-Roman-style statues flank the few small tables. The tea salon's middle room, named Madeleine Castaing after a famous French interior designer, is decorated in the Napoléon III style, with two dramatic chandeliers and plush silk-upholstered armchairs. Finally, in the back, a glass-encased Pompadour salon overlooks the shady garden which will open in warmer weather.
Even with all of the over-the-top accoutrements that make dining at Ladurée so incredibly luxurious, it's hard to look past the pastries, which are visual stunners themselves: the candy-colored assortment of over 15 flavors of macarons, yes, but also the intricately crafted, incredibly detailed constructions of layered pâtisserie such as crisp, cream-filled millefeuilles and cream puffs filled with pistachio pastry cream.
The desserts, conceived for both New York stores upon the Soho location's opening, are created by executive pastry chef Jimmy Leclerc, a seven-year Ladurée veteran who comes to Soho after a stint at the Qatar location. He said he was stunned by the new location when he first saw it.
"It's just amazing here," Leclerc said. "It's the most beautiful of all the Ladurées."
About the author: Lauren Rothman once interned at Serious Eats and recently graduated from journalism school. Try the original recipes on her blog, For the Love of Food, and check out her (many) food photos on Instagram.