Lots of people are surprised to hear that you can get lunch and dinner at Ladurée, this place being known around the world for its macarons, that I admit are addictive. I was one of them. Well, until a friend of mine went there and told me about his meal, proposing to arrange a reservation as a knows the manager. So, we ended up at their location in Soho last Saturday. We entered in the restaurant and it was like stepping in a French salon de thé. Its is an elegant place, but not stuffy at all with four different areas: the first one is the patisserie section where you can admire the various pastries they propose in addition to the macarons, with its ceiling representing the sky and the large marble statues. The second room has a darker setting and definitely looks like a salon. The third room, where we sat, is apparently inspired by Madame de Pompadour, who was the mistress of the French King Louis XV, and remained very influential in his court until his death. The room is dominated by the beautiful chandelier in the middle that one cannot miss, huge paintings and nice crown molding on the walls. Last is the garden, that they also open in the Winter. When we arrived at 12:30pm, it was not that crowded, but, after 1pm, we noticed that more and more people came, a reservation being probably a good idea if you do not want to wait for hours.
Food wise, I was surprised that they gave us the lunch and not brunch menu, but, trust me, after reading the menu for few minutes, I did not regret it, many dishes being mouth watering. Here is what we got:
First, they offered us their signature cocktail, the Royale Ladurée, that is a kir made with champagne, rose syrup and a fresh strawberry. That was a good way to start our meal, a perfect drink in fact that had a perfect amount of sweetness, not overpowering the champagne.
I then went for the foie gras and was amazed by it: the way they make it is by crushing a lemon macaron and rolling the liver around it before the cooking process. You end up with a nice layer of lemon macaron in the middle, that adds a nice acidity to a perfectly made foie gras. It was served with a toasted brioche as well as a banana, pineapple and ginger marmalade that was a bit tart, but paired well with the foie gras.
For her entrée, Jodi went for their omelette aux morilles or morel mushroom omelet, that I recommend to mushroom lovers. Yes, there are not just a couple of mushrooms on top: the omelet is filled with it and you even have a mushroom sauce to pour on top of a perfectly made omelet.
On my side, I went for one of their signature dishes: the "vol au vent" de volaille aux champignons or chicken breast "vol au vent" with wild mushrooms. A vol au vent is a round shell made with puff pastry that can be filled with meat, seafood and vegetables and can be served hot or cold. It is not something you see often on a menu and it reminded me when my Mom was making various recipes with some vol au vent bought at the supermarket. For sure, there is no comparison with the one at Ladurée that was sublime, decadent and rich. The chicken was perfectly cooked, and the mushrooms (lots of morels) and mushroom sauce were amazing, eaten with the delicious puff pastry that softened as time passed. I also loved the way they served it that you can see on the video below.
Last was desserts: I was full after the foie gras and the vol au vent, two dishes that were rich, but, how could one leave without dessert? I must disclose that, when we received the bill, they comp'd our desserts, a very nice and discreet gesture. However, know that this does not influence my opinion about the place! Anyway, they came to us with their dessert tray that was like seeing Santa: their desserts looked beautiful and were nicely described, the most amazing being the Marie-Antoinette buchette with its pearls and pink color. You might know that the buche de Noel is a traditional French dessert for the Holidays, and a buchette is a smaller version of it. At Ladurée, they propose a bunch of them and Jodi decided to try the Fleur Noire, made with Sacher biscuit, chocolate feuillantine, vanilla cream, Caribbean chocolate mousse, topped with a dark chocolate leaf and petal. She also got a matcha latte with it.
I tried her dessert, but admit that I was expecting something more decadent and with a more stronger chocolate taste. I did not think that it was as good as the Celeste buchette that I picked, a sublime dessert that would please people who love hazelnut. Read this: it is made with a crispy hazelnut and almond biscuit, topped with a soft hazelnut biscuit, a hazelnut mousse filled with a melted hazelnut praline. The first bite was divine as it is hazelnut over hazelnut. I liked the fact that it was not too sweet and could not resist finishing it...
I was glad we walked a bit after such meal...The food was exquisite and I loved the atmosphere at Ladurée. Price wise, it is not cheap, but at least, when you leave, you do not regret going there. I definitely recommend this place if you would like great food in a nice setting. But if you go, do not skip dessert!
Enjoy (I surely did!)
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La Durée - 398 W Broadway, New York, NY 10012