Day One: Ladurée SoHo
SoHo’s sweet tooth just got a little sweeter. Parisian pastry enthusiasts have been anticipating the opening of Ladurée’s second U.S. outpost since president David Holder announced his plans to open “the most beautiful Ladurée in the world” in late 2011. The dessert empire certainly made use of the abundant space available; the retail shop on West Broadway is kept company with two themed dining areas and an outdoor garden set to open in the spring. We headed over to the French import to check out the space and indulge on their signature desserts.
The space: The retail space up front is sleek and perfectly showcases the exquisite macarons they’re famous for. However, the true stunner of the space is the back dining room inspired by French courtesan Madame de Pompadour. In the heart of the room hangs an antique golden chandelier and a ceiling mural resembling the daytime sky. 18th-century style lamps and paintings can be seen throughout the large dining space, and floral curtains are draped across the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the back garden. If you can’t afford a trip to Versailles anytime soon, dining here would be a cheaper alternative.
The scene: Despite the freezing rain and about a foot of snowy slush covering West Broadway, several ladies who lunch and a few couples craving a classy lunch out occupied the half-full dining room when we arrived at noon.
The food: Admittedly, it took a while to decide what to order for lunch since the entire menu was over 20 pages long. After much deliberation, we settled for standard lunch fare – a sandwich and a salad. What was presented to us, though, was anything but typical. Our smoked salmon salad ($21.50) was definitely a splurge, but one worth making. Two smoky filets (one hearty cut on top, the other hidden below the balsamic-dressed greens) complemented the two generous dollops of black olive cream that accompanied it. Meanwhile the club sandwich ($15.50) is constructed with the classic ingredients (Canadian bacon, chicken, egg, lettuce, tomato), but heightened with a homemade mayonnaise that tastes like it was made in the heavens. If you’re not a crust fan, you’re in luck; the chefs cut them off for you. The four mega-fries that come with the sandwich are crisped to near-perfection, yet smooth like a well-made baked potato on the inside.
The drinks: The winter weather called for a hot cup of tea. Their selection ranges from the classic offerings (Earl Grey, English Breakfast) to more unusual takes (teas with hints of cardamom and black pepper). We opted for a black tea with almonds ($7 for a five-serving teapot), which was beautifully presented on a silver platter and was accompanied by a piece of milk chocolate.
The sweets: The patisserie expectedly delivered with their intricate pastries and desserts. A passion fruit tart topped with raspberries transported us to a beachy setting upon first bite, meanwhile the three signature macarons we tried (pistachio, raspberry, and caramel with salted butter) were weightless in texture and filled with complex ganaches and jams that you don't find in your run-of-the-mill macaron.
The details: 398 Broadway; 646-392-7868