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Quick note on Laduree SoHo

sgordon Feb 15, 2014 04:48 PM

Popped in for brunch today and figured I'd drop a little initial reaction, start a thread for others to weigh in.

First, the service was actually quite nice. Maybe a touch perfunctory but that's understandable as they were positively slammed. I'd read some early reactions on yelp from people who felt ignored by their waiters, etc, but we had nothing but pleasant service all the way through.

2. Savories, meh. Granted, it's brunch so one doesn't want to judge a kitchen by brunch alone, but I swear there wasn't a single flake of salt between our two omelettes. The snap peas and asparagus in the garden omelette were cooked to the point of softness (though shy of mushy, at least) and the filling of the "Concorde" had its own issues - the chicken was diced so tiny it might as well have been ground meat, so it lacked any toothsomeness. The tomatoes in it were nice and fresh, but with apparently no salt they were severely lacking in flavor. At a chef-driven resto it's not surprising there's no salt on the table, but at a place like this you'd think they would. I'm sure whoever's running the kitchen won't take offense.

We shared an order of Pommes Dauphine. Be warned: if you despise 2,4-dithiapentane as much as I do, they're redolent with it, and there's no warning of it on the menu. But aside from the unfortunate flavor of kerosene permeating them, they were well-seasoned. So they're not averse to salt. And the texture was perfect.

Pastries, on the other hand were great. And not tooth-achingly sweet, which was nice. We had a perfectly balanced Tart Citron, and something with rose and raspberries and cream on puff pastry I can't recall the name of.

I'll probably give them another chance on savories at dinner, and we'll see how the seasoning issues are. That said, it's certainly a lovely room and a great place to do tea and sweets if you've got a sweet tooth.

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  1. p
    Pookipichu RE: sgordon Feb 15, 2014 05:28 PM

    I read that they are still shipping FROZEN macarons in, why they don't bake them in house I have no idea. Any word on that?

    27 Replies
    1. re: Pookipichu
      coasts RE: Pookipichu Feb 15, 2014 05:46 PM

      I was also there today for brunch at noon sitting in the second room. They did a great job in making the place gorgeous. I'm sure it'll be busy for a long time to come. I had the Salade Soho and my wife had the Laduree Club. We were amazed at the generous portion size and both really enjoyed our dishes. Fantastic teas, too. Didn't save space for pastries, but do plan to return soon.

      1. re: coasts
        sgordon RE: coasts Feb 16, 2014 09:30 AM

        The tea selection was great, I agree. The two we tried (Josephine and something else) were both excellent. Granted, it's nothing compared to the Harney & Sons selection a few blocks East, but it seemed to be well-curated where H&S can be overwhelming if you don't know what you're looking for.

        Also, agree, the portions were decent for the prices. Some of the pastries even generously so.

        I take it you guys had no seasoning issues with your salad & sandwich? Maybe it's just whoever was running the egg station...

        1. re: sgordon
          coasts RE: sgordon Feb 16, 2014 11:24 AM

          No complaints on seasoning. The "French Fries" are a bit dense. They're about a square inch thick and have the texture of a baked potato.

      2. re: Pookipichu
        Nancy S. RE: Pookipichu Feb 15, 2014 10:00 PM

        That's not unusual even in Paris. Macarons need to "age".

        1. re: Nancy S.
          Pookipichu RE: Nancy S. Feb 16, 2014 05:44 AM

          I bought some macarons from Dominique Ansel recently, I didn't know they had been aged, I thought they were stale. Now I know that reference is everything ;)

          I'm going to start freezing all my cookies and defrosting them to let the flavors meld.

        2. re: Pookipichu
          Monica RE: Pookipichu Feb 16, 2014 03:59 AM

          I rather have frozen macarons shipped from France than have macarons made in here in usa.

          1. re: Monica
            Pookipichu RE: Monica Feb 16, 2014 05:47 AM

            I'd prefer the macarons be made here because I feel pretty certain we have pastry chefs here competent enough to meet the standards of Laduree. I have been underwhelmed by the frozen shipped macarons and feel something is lost in translation.

            1. re: Pookipichu
              Nancy S. RE: Pookipichu Feb 16, 2014 07:48 AM

              It's the same exact product, and treatment, as sold in Paris.

              1. re: Nancy S.
                Pookipichu RE: Nancy S. Feb 16, 2014 10:35 AM

                Laduree doesn't have the same sheen of excitement that it did for me when you had to travel to Paris. It's not the only macaron game in town and I personally am underwhelmed by them in NY. I'm not going to line up for defrosted macarons. My sister brought me a box of Laduree macarons from Paris, they were ok. I had macarons from CIA that were just as good, in a student run bakery. Laduree Paris to my knowledge does not freeze their macarons and they do taste different fresh.

                I will say that Laduree Soho looks gorgeous and if you have the money to blow at a hyped up place, might as well do it there than Magnolia Bakery. :)

                1. re: Pookipichu
                  kosmose7 RE: Pookipichu Feb 19, 2014 04:59 AM

                  Pierre Herme himself claims "“Any pastry chef who says he doesn’t freeze his macarons is a liar"

                  Laduree spokeswoman does not like the word "frozen". She says "it's not a very pretty word. We say they are in hibernation".



                  On the other hand, this article says Laduree macarons are frozen and shipped to non-French cities including New York. It further states macarons sold in Paris are not frozen, 'but similar'. I don't know exactly what this 'similar' to frozen means. Supplying moisture and keeping them at certain temperature so that they can age perhaps?

                  1. re: kosmose7
                    mla19 RE: kosmose7 Feb 19, 2014 12:58 PM

                    I am no macaron aficionado but Pierre Herme's in Paris were divine. Have not had ones as good since, including Laduree. If only he would open up shop in NYC.

                    1. re: kosmose7
                      sgordon RE: kosmose7 Feb 20, 2014 10:40 AM

                      The Bouchon Bakery cookbook actually instructs one to freeze macarons for 24 hrs before eating them. It's simply part of the process, helps give the macaron a better texture. Since there's little water content in macarons aside from the tiny amount in the egg white (and just a trace assuming they age their whites, as most bakers recommend) there's scientifically no reason not too.

                      1. re: sgordon
                        Pookipichu RE: sgordon Feb 20, 2014 11:23 AM

                        Learn something new everyday, thanks Nancy, Kosmose7, sgordon. That being said, I still wish the macarons were made in NY (frozen or otherwise) and not shipped from elsewhere. There are talented pastry chefs in the US and I would much rather support a bakery using local talent and I don't think that Laduree macarons are head and shoulders above others in NY.

                        1. re: Pookipichu
                          sgordon RE: Pookipichu Feb 20, 2014 12:06 PM

                          You would think it would actually cost less to make them here. Would not surprise me if by the time they open a third place (I'm sure it's not far off) they also set up an operation out in Queens or Jersey to pump 'em out. I imagine sure that's how they do it over there, with one main industrial bakery supplying all the locations.

                          Of course, it's easy to support a bakery using local talent - just get your macaron fix elsewhere. Bosie Tea Parlor and Payard are both made locally. Bottega Falai sometimes has them, and his are excellent (Seems counter-intuitive to go to an Italian, but a macaron shell uses the Italian meringue method after all - all the French did was stick some buttercream in the middle...)

                          1. re: sgordon
                            Pookipichu RE: sgordon Feb 20, 2014 12:16 PM

                            Trust me, I support bakeries with local talent, more than I should ;) my body fat doesn't lie.

                            1. re: Pookipichu
                              foodwhisperer RE: Pookipichu Mar 13, 2014 09:39 PM

                              I like the macaron from La Maison du Macaron ( Chelsea),
                              I had very stale ones ( not aged) at Nespresso

                2. re: Pookipichu
                  Monica RE: Pookipichu Feb 16, 2014 11:03 AM

                  Oh I am sure we have tons of competent chefs but somehow ingredients are different...there is substitute for that.

                  Btw, having tasted Laduree macarons from both Paris and Monaco, i am not a big fan of macarons from Laduree in general...I personally love macarons from Maison du macaron.

                  1. re: Pookipichu
                    OC Mutt RE: Pookipichu Feb 21, 2014 07:26 AM

                    I wish that was the case (that our chefs are "competent enough to meet the standards of Laduree") but apparently, to my strong disappointment, it is not. I have yet to find a macaron in the US, anywhere in the US (particularly LA and NYC) that held a candle to Laduree or Pierre Herme. I'm mystified at this but it is the case and continues to be so. As for frozen shipments, I don't know about how they get there, but recently I had both Laduree and Pierre Herme macarons in Tokyo, and they were as good as they are in Paris, so I don't care if they were frozen or not. I sincerely hope that some US chefs figure it out, but I've been looking for 7 years and have found nothing. Maybe it's the same mystery of life that makes NYC bagels and pizza superior and inimitable anywhere else.

                    1. re: OC Mutt
                      ellenost RE: OC Mutt Feb 21, 2014 07:30 AM

                      Agree with you 100%! Much prefer the Laduree macarons (regardless of being frozen) to any other macarons in NYC. Bisous Ciao comes pretty close though.

                      1. re: OC Mutt
                        sgordon RE: OC Mutt Feb 21, 2014 01:08 PM

                        The macarons you buy at Laduree NYC are being made by the exact same chefs that are making them in Paris - they're frozen after they're baked, not before. The local chefs just do the other pastries and savories and whatnot. As to the macarons, literally all they're doing here is thawing them out, same as they do in Tokyo or wherever else.

                        Maybe the air that touches them just tastes sweeter when it's not in NYC...

                        1. re: sgordon
                          Pookipichu RE: sgordon Feb 21, 2014 01:39 PM

                          Not to beat a dead horse, but I read that the Laduree in Paris is the only one that makes them there, the others around the globe all have their's shipped frozen from their factory in Switzerland?

                          1. re: Pookipichu
                            sugartoof RE: Pookipichu Feb 21, 2014 02:09 PM

                            Does any NY baker all currently make a Macaron with gelee filling?

                            Bouchon's taste like jam.

                            Laduree's do not taste frozen, or defrosted, or inferior, so what difference does it make?

                            1. re: sugartoof
                              Pookipichu RE: sugartoof Feb 21, 2014 03:12 PM

                              Well, frankly it probably doesn't make a difference that they're frozen, I eat frozen seafood, vegetables, etc. *shrug* I went to the Soho shop two days ago, the macarons taste better when I haven't waited an hour on line for them like at the uptown location. I didn't think they were worth the wait.

                              With no line, I think they're fine. The carre chocolat is delicious. As a side note, the person working the counter did not know what the desserts were/what was in them, which is fine but, tried to b.s. an answer until conceding the need to get the folder with descriptions/ingredients.

                              1. re: sugartoof
                                sgordon RE: sugartoof Feb 23, 2014 05:51 AM

                                The only difference between a jam and a gelee (jelly) is the former uses whole fruit and the latter just the juice. Personally, I prefer a jam as it has a bit more depth and texture.

                                That said, there's such a small amount in a macaron I couldn't tell you which is in there, unless I bit into a seed or something.

                                1. re: sgordon
                                  sugartoof RE: sgordon Feb 23, 2014 07:51 AM

                                  One is a spread, and one is usually presented as a fully set gelatinized square which can be found sold as a premium candy in it's own right.

                                  Usually the texture is entirely different and unmistakeable.

                            2. re: sgordon
                              Ttrockwood RE: sgordon Feb 21, 2014 02:09 PM

                              Maybe the macarons aquire their own "terrior" based on location....?? ;)
                              I don't care what Laudree does in nyc, it works and i love their macarons.

                      2. re: Pookipichu
                        sugartoof RE: Pookipichu Feb 16, 2014 01:39 PM

                        If they're expanding the US operation, they'll probably begin baking locally, but then people will complain they're not the same as Paris. As of now, they're exactly the same cookie.

                        As for frozen being an issue - you can't tell. These are superior in texture, and composition to anything else I've had in NY, which are a different breed, in comparison.

                      3. s
                        Simon RE: sgordon Feb 15, 2014 05:48 PM

                        i got a takeout Mont Blanc for someone from there and she liked it very much...i had a bite: it was tasty, but i'm no expert

                        1. g
                          ganache123 RE: sgordon Mar 12, 2014 02:52 AM

                          Back to Laduree Soho-Does anyone know if I could get a table if only having a breakfast pastry/dessert and tea or would I have to order an entrée off the brunch menu on the weekends?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ganache123
                            sgordon RE: ganache123 Mar 12, 2014 08:34 AM

                            They can't force you to order anything you don't want, but they'd probably be less than thrilled if you made a reservation and took the table from customers who would have ordered a full meal.

                            There are some tables in the front area that are unreserved, for walk-ins. Those tables are, I think, intended more for in-and-outs, tea and pastry noshes. But I wouldn't do it at a reserved table, no.

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