I have a sweet spot for visiting Ladurée the fabulous French tea room bakery, cafe and restaurant on West Broadway in Soho. The first time I ever heard of macaron, was 1985 when I first set foot in France as I embarked on my road to becoming a supermodel. Discovering French pastry would come to inspire my motto “Don’t Go Broke or Get Fat – Unless It’s Really Worth It.”
Getting to Paris was my dream come true, because I could feast my eyes on sites of fashion, food architecture and French fabulousness on top of more French fabulousness just about everywhere I looked. Yes, I was dead broke and couldn’t speak the language yet and living by my wits. Needless say, putting money out or consuming calories for anything other than true necessities became a way of life.
I learned a lot working in Paris. All the top French fashion editors and photographers were in the know about Ladurée. On days when a little green Ladurée box would be delivered to set, my super chic co-workers – all of whom were the real insider’s insiders of fashion- “Oh la la” with delight. Everyone would gather together, like it was Christmas day, to watch as the pretty ribbon tied around the iconic pastel green confectioners box was untied to reveal a glorious rainbow of macarons.
Everyone would drop the facade of fashion and melt like butter as the sugary goodness of the macarons dissolving on their tongues brought out the kid in us all. For the French, Ladurée is an institution. The original Ladurée, near the Place de Madeline in Paris, built in 1862, is one of the first restaurants in France where women were welcome to dine alone or in groups. Before the advent of a tea room, women could not dine alone in public without a male male escort. To this day, the original is still standing and remains one of the most stunning rooms in Paris. Since the day I discovered Ladurée, it became a sweet oasis for my weekend treats and the go to spot that saves me every time I need to find to find the perfect business gift.
A few years ago, much to my delight, Ladurée opened in New York’s Soho neighborhood. The New York City location in Soho is a grand and gorgeous indoor outdoor space. As soon as I step into the opulent interior, I’m instantly transported back to the city light. The atmosphere is casual and elegant – never stuffy or stuck-up, and unless it’s the weekend or fashion week, you can usually get a reservation for a dining table within the same day.Let me tell you, every bite and every crumb of the pastries at Ladurée is worth every single penny and every single calorie. I take breakfast and lunch meetings there for my blog with designers and editors. You can dress up or go casual because there’s three distinct areas of the restaurant a cafe, formal dining room, a garden and a bar. It’s a magical spot to take your kids for pastries and french fries any time.
When you go, you have to have the macarons! I found out when researching this article that Ladurée invented the macaroon in 1952. Don’t miss the coffee or one of the house special blend teas while you’re there. My favorite pastry from Ladurée is the “Ispahan” a lychee, raspberry and rose petal confection like nothing I’ve tasted anywhere. The chocolate eclairs and the hazelnut mille feuilles make me week in the knees-they’re just so creamy and light. You don’t just have to eat sweets. There’s a “delicatessen” with grab and go sandwiches made from fresh baked bread and freshly roasted meats that are super tasty.
I love the French classics on the menu in the sit down restaurant, like Blanquet De Veau (veal stew) or Sole Menuiere which is prepared table side by the waiter with the sole table side with a butter sauce that’s light and flavorful laced with fresh herbs. And you know, the French fries are off the hook. The garden and the café sections of the restaurant make for a sexy spot for a date night cocktail. I like to take my husband for champagne on the veranda of Laduré’s walled in garden. Whatever you order, sandwiches, sweets, haute cuisine or drinks, it’ll make you say “Oh La La” like the French or “OMG” like we Americans do, because food, like love, is a universal language happiness.
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