Thursday, March 26, 2015

Out to Tea - Lunch at Ladurée (SoHo)

Towards the end of January I had the opportunity to get together with Grace, an old co-worker of mine, in NYC. We headed out for an afternoon at the Met for Death Becomes Her which was followed by a late lunch at Ladurée in SoHo. I had been wanting to try more than just the macarons and this outing served as the perfect opportunity to have a nice meal there.

Strangely enough, the first time I ever encountered Ladurée was in Kyoto. The woman who owned the share house I was renting a room in happened to go on a series of blind dates facilitated by her well-intentioned grandmother. After one of these fluke outings, she came back to the house carrying a giant box of  Ladurée's macarons. Apparently her latest suitor was a very wealthy gentleman from Tokyo who had taken the initiative to bring with him a box from their Ginza location. Unfortunately for him, the owner was fairly adverse to sweets as the high sugar contents made her dreadfully ill and so she offered the whole box to be shared by all of us in the share house. I of course had a field day. The macarons were exquisite and they were an excellent price - free!

Grace knew about my interest in lolita fashion and told me she dearly wanted to dress up and go out for tea sometime. The company we had both worked for had its headquarters in SoHo which meant this would be a great opportunity to introduce her to the magic of Ladurée should she ever want to grab something sweet on her way home from a meeting. As it was a Saturday I realized that it would probably be quite crowded and therefore made a reservation online at what I assumed would be a relatively quiet period of the afternoon. Little did I know that the rush for Ladurée's famous sweets never really stops.

We arrived a bit early, but it was bitterly cold outside so we opted just to hop into the restaurant and see if we could wait the extra 15 minutes or so. The takeout counter was packed and overall it was quite noisy. There was a walk-in table which opened up right after we got in and put our names in, but when the staff offered it to us we declined and opted to simply wait for our reserved table in the dining room proper.

Not too long after we got seated at a small two-person table and set to work deciding what to order. The china was adorable with pastel stripes and I quite liked the potential mismatching cup and saucer set I got that was pink and green instead of the customary matched pair.  Grace made an excellent decision to try the hot chocolate and begged me to try a bit after it arrived. Needless to say it was divine and just as rich as you would expect a giant melted down bar of chocolate to taste like. I opted to go for the Josephine Tea which was fabulous. It was a nice Chinese black tea packed full of citrus with a pinch of jasmine - a definite recommendation. For lunch I opted to go for the Salade Ladurée which was positively massive, but no less delicious. I had expected a much smaller portion, but was absolutely famished at the time and dug in with gusto. For dessert I had the ispahan which I shared with Grace while she got a small assortment of macarons. All in all it was a fabulous meal.

The table we were given was unfortunately a bit small given all the things we ordered, but I imagine for a regular round of tea with a few savories or sweets it would have been perfect. The decor was really lovely with mint walls accented by chocolate wood paneling. Unfortunately for us we were seated in the front of two dining spaces and therefore had much of the sound from the takeout counter and the walk-in seating carry over. That being said, we were far from shouting to hear one another and overall enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon.

I would definitely recommend Ladurée SoHo to other lolita adventurers and/or afternoon tea enthusiasts. Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time to ensure that you don't get stuck in a long line or in the noisier sections of the restaurant. Potentially see if you can't get a table in the back dining room which was far grander and much quieter. And of course, be sure to save room for dessert as the macarons are phenomenal!

Stay strong and beautiful, my lovelies, 

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