Arts and Entertainment | Food and Drink

Ladurée’s new SoHo installment fails to satisfy for price

  • Jing Qu / Senior Staff Photographer
    OH NO YOU MACARON"T | Macarons on display at the new Ladurée store in SoHo. The macarons are shipped in from Paris weekly.

Ladurée ruined macarons for me when I was younger. The first time I was in Paris, I bounded into Ladurée’s flagship eager to understand why the French were so proud of their macarons and why the rest of the world bows down to this treat. Upon taking a bite, I frowned, and my confusion only deepened when I had another. Thinking that these macarons were supposed to be representative of those in France—I mean, this is the famed Ladurée, right?—these slightly stale, mushy, and monotonously sugary things instilled in me a wrongful but deep-seated disappointment in French pastries.

At Ladurée’s newly opened SoHo store, the macarons taste exactly the same, which is a testament to their standardized quality—a remarkable feat, given that they currently have almost fifty stores worldwide. 

This store is decorated in the same beautiful mint green that characterizes Ladurée. In the shop, the first things you see are beautifully decorated pastries that sit in neat rows in their display case. Decorative macaron towers are situated next to scented candles and perfumes. Through the pastry shop, there is a tea room, which evokes the Palace of Versailles with its floral curtains and golden door handles. In the early evening, there’s already a line, although partially because orders are being processed rather slowly. Not a good portent for the rest of the meal—the food comes quickly, but paying takes 45 minutes.

Headed by executive chef Johann Giraud, formerly of La Mangeoire in Midtown, Ladurée’s restaurant offers traditional French fare with a modern, New York twist. On their menu is a selection of breakfast viennoiserie, a brunch prix fixe, various omelets and sandwiches, dinner appetizers, and mains, as well as vegetarian dishes.

Ladurée’s macarons—shipped in weekly from Paris—offer classic flavors including pistachio and chocolate, and seasonal ones like green apple and wild raspberry jasmine. The latter has a jam-like filling that lifts out perfectly in a disc and tastes like the inside of a berry-flavored pop tart. The fleur d’oranger macaron only has light hints of the orange blossom perfume and consisted mostly of a floury-tasting gooeyness at the center. The vanilla is decent, with a delicious cream center, but it already makes the cookie halves too damp. 

Macarons should not taste heavy but airy, with a fragile, crisp crust, and a filling that should allow you to cleanly bite off a portion. It also should taste like whatever flavor it has been labeled as. None of these criteria have been fulfilled to any great extent, which is disappointing given the weight that Ladurée’s name carries.

The hot foie gras appetizer is delicious, paired with seared apple slices and a thin apple purée as a garnish. Crisp and golden on the outside and still a tender, soft pink on the inside, it would be a great dish if the underside of the liver weren’t blackened from having been on the pan for too long. The monkfish blanquette is chef Giraud’s take on the classic French blanquette de veau, and the blanquette complements every aspect of the dish. Thick, creamy, and flavorful, it thinly coats the peeled celery, carrots, and parsnips garnish. The three pieces of fish, however, are under-seasoned and slightly dry. The club Ladurée is made with white, crustless bread, and comes with a salad dressed in citrusy vinaigrette and four pieces of oversized pommes de terre pont neuf. Neither of these are quite worth their price.

For dessert, the rose Saint Honoré arrives looking crestfallen, rosewater-flavored whipped cream tilting to one side. The shortcrust base gets soggy, but the details speak to Ladurée’s appreciation of the traditional French way of making this dessert. With the pink fondant glaze, fresh raspberries, and perfect rose petal, it would be pretty were it not melted out of shape. The millefeuille au rhum is equally disappointing: too rich, lumpy, and thick, with only fleeting notes of rum. 

Ladurée is to macarons as Victoria’s Secret is to lingerie—the quality of the product hardly lives up to the hype, but because it’s such an iconic brand, it’s perhaps worth venturing in for the experience. It’s hard to argue against the sentimentality that Ladurée carries, with its connotations of Parisian luxury. There are many better French macarons to be had in New York, but it’s safe to say that Ladurée will remain popular. The prestige of the brand is what you’re paying for.

yvonne.hsiao@columbiaspectator.com@ColumbiaSpec

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Anonymous posted on

This comment has been deleted in line with our comment policy.

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agree posted on

Can't agree more with the above comment. This article is just, like, so artificial. What a testament to Wollstonecraft's lament of women's pettiness and triviality.

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VS critique posted on

This comment has been deleted in line with our comment policy.

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Walrus posted on

Who are you people commenting here? She's a food critic! You asked for her opinion just by reading this article and why should you feel the need to say destructive, toxic things that have nothing to do with Yvonne's opinion about macarons.

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answer posted on

because she's quite fake. and it's not hard to know it

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Everybody calm down posted on

Shhhhhshh. The boyfriend is commenting above. Everyone pls calm down! I don's see what's wrong with women wanting to be satisfied with petty pleasures. If she;s happy just with macarons then let her be. She's from a very poor family so it's not easy for her to live in any sense, ok? Imagine yourself going through high school, culinary school and even college with financial aid or scholarships, you are bound to experience some inferiority complex!! If she wants a boyfriend who's rich who she can rely on after graduation (and yes, possibly even getting a green card/canadian card), then let her be! It's her choice!

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Walrus posted on

Ex-Boyfriend. If she really wanted or needed what you guys think she does, she probably would not have cut me out of her life. Please stop commenting on other people's personal lives in a forum about food.

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You should be happy posted on

This comment has been deleted in line with our comment policy.

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Walrus posted on

You are wrong and I pity you because you think that the world works that way. Also you cannot type or spell, whichever it is.

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Walrus posted on

...and seriously, how does it help to think that way? You cannot really know what happened and thinking along those lines, about Yvonne and using people and generalizing poor people, is just destructive and cynical. Yvonne is a wonderful person and if you do not feel that way just do not say anything at all.

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WOW posted on

The Walurs has been visiting this page very day to downvote everything negative about yvonne. WOW

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Just saying.. posted on

I think poor people can be nice; some of my friends are poor but they are actually just as nice as your average rich girl or boy.

Though to be fair, some of the meanest and most manipulative people I have encountered have been from very disadvantaged backgrounds. Just saying.

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Do not fake the privilege you don't have posted on

What I really do not understand/and have a problem with is that the author tries to show her culturedness and learnedness through attempting to show her class and privilege that she does not have (we all know her background), by consistently referencing how eating this brand or that brand of chocolate or macaroon is so commonplace to her and was a part of her childhood. If she does have privilege, then this piece really has no big problem, but when she does not, it just comes off as really fake. Same thing with the chocolate article.

People should not have a problem with underprivileged people, but everyone has a problem with people who are not privileged but tries to fake privilege. Why not embrace your true self? Why do you have to say things in French when you can just say things in English? Being able to speak French does not make you automatically classy or privileged, and it also doesn't make you sound more learned or cultured, especially in a place like Columbia.

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Walrus posted on

Everyone seems to think they know Yvonne but we would not even be having this discussion if you did. Really, just get your facts and research straight. Yvonne is not who you think she is, clearly.

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Walrus posted on

I mean that in a good way, in case that wasn't clear. Whoops :)

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