I always joke that I had the worst first macaron experience. I had never tasted one before, but my friend Madeline insisted that we make a trek to this special shop that was the "best in Paris." We walked into Ladurée, and I was instantly overwhelmed by the beautiful dainty pastries and decor. When I finally made it through the line and tried one for myself, I couldn't believe I had lived 20 years of my life without this amazing delicacy. How are there so many textures in one bite? How does this rose macaron taste like a rose smells?! Sadly, when I returned to the US and happily bought myself a macaron to enjoy my new favorite dessert, I was sorely disappointed. Shells were crackly, creams were wrong, sizes were all over the place! Oh, the horror! I was a macaron snob. Fortunately, moving to New York City has quickly remedied that situation for me because there are not only one, but two Ladurées here. The one in the Upper East Side is perfect for your grab-and-go for a walk in the park, whereas the SOHO location offers the perfect spot for the ultimate girl brunch.
In anticipation for her move to the West Coast, my dear friend Cameron made the effort to come into the city just to get one last hurrah before thousands of miles would separate us. I knew instantly that this called for an exquisite and grand experience of total indulgence. Surprisingly, I was able to make a 1pm reservation on Open Table just a few days in advance. To make things even better, I had accumulated enough points for a gift certificate (note: you have to get this mailed to you, you can't use the app) which meant that we would be spending it all on extra desserts, rather than comping our bill.
We were early to our reservation, but they were able to seat us right away. We inquired about the patio seating, and while that does not open until May, they graciously seated us at the table along the windows for plenty of gorgeous sunshine. The back room was truly incredible! Unfortunately my fixed lens wasn't able to take it all in, but even my iPhone 6 shot captures it quite well.
We then decided to split one sweet and one savory, ordering the original french toast and the eggs benedict. The waitress made a point of emphasizing that the benedict was done in a "french style" which we didn't fully comprehend at first, but then realized the simplicity of it once it came out. The french toast was pretty incredible - the bread was dense and the maple syrup was flavorful rather than just sweet. The eggs benedict itself was simple and very, very small, but tasty. The poached eggs were cooked just right, and I was guilty of sneaking some of the table bread to dip more in the hollandaise sauce once I finished.
When it finally came time to dessert, I was horrified to realize that my stomach was a little fuller than expected. Nevertheless, we tried our hardest to ignore the sensation and championed on as planned (I'm dedicated to a good meal in case you can't tell...) Keeping it simple, Cameron ordered two macarons: salted caramel and chocolate. For those of you unfamiliar with Ladurée's macarons, the tiny dessert somehow manages to have three layers: there is a perfect crispy shell, a chewy layer at the interior of the cookies, and then a delicate soft cream or jam filling. In other words, it's incredible.
For my dessert, I opted for a favorite: Saint-Honoré Rose. The magnificent creation is a puff pastry filled with the impossible-to-exist rose petal cream and raspberry compote, topped with a rose frosting. Sitting on top of the bottom layer, is a giant stack of more rose petal cream and mini versions of the base pastry sitting on top! Insane. I had eaten this dessert once before at the Upper East Side location, and was a tad bit disappointed to find that this one wasn't quite as good. It seemed that they had refrigerated the pastry a little too long and it lost a bit of its light flakiness. Nevertheless, the cream and compote were still irresistible.
Overall, it was a truly wonderful experience. I had previously read reviews that the service was terrible, but we didn't encounter that at all. To the contrary, all the tables around us seemed to receive professional and courteous service.For the full experience, I recommend trying to get seated in the back room as it is much lovelier than the others. While small portions, the entrees themselves were quite affordable. The desserts, of course, are a given. All food shots and Cameron's portrait are taken on a Nikon D3100 50mm. All photos capturing the room are taken on an iPhone 6.