Manhattan, New York – Ladurée (Parisian Macarons)

Restaurant: Ladurée
Cuisine:
French/Pastries/Desserts
Last visited:
September 2, 2011
Location:
Manhattan, NY (Upper East Side)
Address: 864 Madison Avenue
Nearby subway stops: 68 St – Hunter College
Price Range: 
$10 or less ($2.70/macaron)

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4
Service: n/a (pay at cashier)
Ambiance: 5
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Mecca of Parisian macarons
  • From Paris, France
  • First location in NY
  • Macarons imported daily from France
  • Famous macarons
  • Seasonal flavours
  • Not all natural
  • Few other cookies offered
  • Local/tourist attraction
  • Long lines
  • No on site bakery
  • Gift shop
  • To go only
  • Accepts cash/credit
  • Monday to Saturday: 9am until 7pm
  • Sunday noon to 6pm

**Recommendations: Vanilla Macaron, Green Apple Macaron, Caramel with Salted Butter

I could easily get lost window shopping in New York.

And if I would line up for shoes, I would line up for a cookie.
This is the true story of a Foodie in the City.

Oh I look so happy and naive I almost feel bad for myself just looking at this picture. It was like seeing the Bloomingdales for the first time and the line up actually excited me and I thought it would take no longer than 40 minutes. Boy was I wrong.

This was only the fifth day of the opening for the first ever Ladurée in the United States, and it was no surprise that it was opening in New York. The line ups in France can be pretty long as well, and since I’m not heading there anytime soon, I wasn’t going to miss out on an opportunity to try them in New York.

Ladurée is the Mecca of Parisian Macarons along with Pierre Hermé. They’re not the inventors of Parisian Macarons, but they are famous for them. They took these dainty cookies to the next level by making them gourmet. Macarons from these brands are more or less considered a delicacy for French pastries. They created a home and entire culture for them. The macarons are good, but the cute jewelery box packaging, ultra chic and upscale ambiance, and overall experience certainly has to do with the premium prices and hype.

It’s taken me almost two months to be able to write this post because the experience was so bitter I couldn’t write it unbiasedly without saying “overrated” to start. The store was having credit card processing issues and I ended up waiting in line for two hours. Two hours. It was only my second day in New York too. It was one of those times when you consider leaving at the one hour mark, but don’t want to because you’re half way there and have already waited for so long. I was desperate. Omg was I desperate.

The macarons are flown in from Paris everyday and they’re not made in house. Macarons aren’t meant to be eaten fresh and these are set aside for 2 days before they are put out for sale. I didn’t mind that they weren’t baked on site, although I know people were upset about this.

The plastic Oreo trays of Parisian macarons weren’t really selling the cookie or the brand, but if this was the Mecca of a macaron I had to try it… for research purposes and my type A behaviour. In fact, I wrote a post called The Perfect Parisian Macarons just to set a standard of where I’m coming from and why I wasn’t as impressed with these.

Ladurée is famous for the modern day gourmet macaron. However just because they were one of the first to start the trend and are known to be “the best”, it doesn’t always mean it is, or will stay the best. In terms of flavours I have come across more original ones in Vancouver – see Natural Almond Macaron with Rosemary Salted Caramel and Vanilla Cream and Espresso Macaron with Avocado Cream macarons.

It’s a forced smile. I don’t know if the air temperature or travel time had to do with the quality of the macarons, and maybe they’re different in Paris, but honestly, I was a bit let down. Even if I didn’t have to wait in line for them. It could have been one of those moments where I could convince myself it was worth the wait because is was the world famous Ladurée macaron, but I’m not going to do that. If I were to do it all over again, I can’t say I wouldn’t, but I’d wait perhaps 30 minutes for them.

And in case you don’t click that The Perfect Parisian Macarons link, here’s a quick recap of what I personally look for in a macaron.

What I look for in a Parisian Macaron:

1) Smooth shells with no cracks or bumps
2) Macarons that hold their shape and don’t fall apart when you pick them up
3) Feet (the rim or edges of a macaron)
4) A gap between the shell and the inside of the cookie (if no gap, should be still crisp)
5) A crisp thin shell that cracks like an egg shell
6) Moist, soft, tender and smooth inside with slight chew
7) Sweetness (flavour of ground almonds and not just sugar)
8 ) Filling (ratio, chocolate/buttercream/jam)
9) Quality of ingredients (natural, local, fresh or extracts)
10) Freshness/shelf life (best eaten 1.5-3 days after it’s made, not fresh or stale)
11) Size (authentic ones are bite sized, but I’m not picky about this)

On the table:

Parisian Macarons – 4/6

  • $2.70/macaron
  • To start, whether it’s a poorly made or well made macaron, it will almost always still taste good because it’s still a sugary cookie in the end.
  • These tasted good, but I had much higher expectations for them. I was sure it would be a 6/6.
  • Macarons are best eaten 1-2 days after they’re baked and these ones are set aside for 2 days before going on sale.
  • Since they were supposedly flown in from Paris that morning I wasn’t expecting the most perfect macarons.
  • I expected a few cracks here and there which are forgivable, but there were more cracks than expected and they almost seemed squished. A couple were falling apart before I even ate them.
  • They’re not all natural and they do use dyes, but they are considered modern day gourmet macarons that are made with fresh and seasonal ingredients.
  • Some of the macarons barely had any feet (the rim of the macaron) and the composition of them wasn’t as professional and flawless as I had expected.
  • Macarons should have a crisp and smooth exterior, but they were soft and tender throughout and a couple even had some bumps.
  • They were obviously sugary, but not overly sweet and the flavour was very good, but I didn’t find them “the best thing ever”, which they kind of are supposed to be.
  • The macarons were definitely more filling focused than cookie focused and the filling was the highlight.
  • If macarons are supposed to be more about the filling than the cookie, then I can see how this is the Mecca of macarons. But, if both components have equal weight, then I think it’s fair to say one outweighed the other.
  • It was about $2.70 for one two-bite macaron, so they are expensive, but that was expected and also part of the brand.

**Vanilla Macaron5/6

  • $2.70
  • I’ll start off with my favourite one.
  • The filling was bursting with vanilla bean seeds and there was much more filling than cookie.
  • It was a creamy, thick, and rich vanilla custard meets white chocolate ganache, but it tasted more like custard than ganache.
  • A custard is more affordable than a chocolate ganache, but regardless it was a great filling.
  • The cookie wasn’t crisp and there was almost no moist cakey part so it was soft throughout and I missed the cookie.

**Green Apple Macaron4/6

  • $2.70
  • This is one of their signature seasonal flavours and again it was focused on the filling more so than the cookie.
  • It was very soft throughout, the feet were chipped off and it was almost too tender to pick up.
  • It was more sweet than tart, but apparent in apple flavour although the middle was a bit grainy.
  • The filling was not really a white chocolate ganache but almost like a paste or puree.
  • It was supposed to mimic Granny Smith apples, which I could taste, and it was made with fresh apples so the flavour was there.

Cherry Macaron3.5/6

  • $2.70
  • This one was almost melting and the shell was a bit bumpy.
  • It was a seasonal flavour and the flavour delivered, but the texture and composition just seemed to have fallen apart.
  • The filling of real pureed cherries was fantastic and it was more tart than the apple and black currant flavour, but still more sweet than tart.
  • The filling reminded me of those sour red juice berry candies as a kid, but pureed with fresh red cherries in the context of jam.

Black Currant & Violet Macaron3.5/6

  • $2.70
  • The same soft texture goes for this one, except this time there was hardly any cookie aspect. The filling was a sure bet though.
  • I couldn’t taste the violet, but it tasted like berries and grapes and the black currant flavour was dominant.
  • The jam is almost like a jam you could use for toast, and it’s very creamy and smooth just like it was in the cherry flavour.

**Caramel with Salted Butter Macaron4.5/6

  • $2.70
  • This one was different than the rest.
  • It was a lot denser, chewier and the cookie played a stronger role.
  • It was moist and chewy, and the shell had some bumps and it wasn’t crisp, but at least I could taste more of the cookie this time.
  • The caramel was chewy, rich, buttery, not that sweet, but also not that salted.
  • I could really taste the almond meal used in the cookie and it was most apparent with this flavour.

Pistachio Macaron4/6

  • $2.70
  • For some reason this one tasted like pistachio and coconut.
  • There was real pistachio paste being used and it was a very nutty butter cream, but the filling almost reminded me of coconut cream or custard pie.
  • It was a very creamy and fluffy filling and it tasted great, but I still missed the crispy cookie and overall composition like I did with the others.

Mini Cookies4/6

  • 4 bite sized cookies for $2.70
  • Clockwise from 12 o’clock: Almond Cookie, Pistachio Tea Cookie, Madeleine, and Almond Tea Cake
  • This isn’t what you come for, but I bought it because it was a deal and I needed one after the sticker shock of the macarons.
  • Almond Cookie – It was a soft almond cookie with sliced almonds and it was a bit cakey and almost like a macaron in concept, but much more like a cookie in texture than a cake. There was some apricot jam in the middle.
  • Pistachio Tea Cookie – It was soft, tender and chewy and made with pistachio paste and it was almost all pistachio and ground almonds in flavour which is great!
  • Madeleine – It tasted like ground almonds again and it was soft, moist, chewy and scented with orange blossom or orange peel.
  • Almond Cake – This reminded me of Christmas cake and there was dried oranges, apricots, almonds, and warm spices like cinnamon and ginger in it.
  • The pastries and cookies more or less tasted the same and they were all almond based tea cookies.

Ladurée on Urbanspoon

30 Comments

  • Great to finally read this post. If we ever make it to New York, we’ll have to wait in line to give ’em a try… An apple macaron, eh? We might be able to make that happen.

  • Laura says:

    2 hours!!!! Really?!! I can’t imagine that that would continue for very long if the quality of the product isn’t there. Were the mini cookies made on site?

  • vivian says:

    I think the best thing on this post was your outfit, I LOVE that dress on you! Could the disappointment of the macaroons be due to all the hype? And $2.70?? That is super pricey for something that’s bite-sized but I suppose it could also be due to the fact that they’re flown in daily; definitely not environmentally friendly. It’s great to know we have quality macaroons right here in vancouver:)

  • vivian says:

    btw I went to The Sweet Spot in Steveston and was really impressed with their pastries. They even have some yummy macaroons. I find their macaroons to be on the larger size and slightly more filling but not as much as the Laudree ones. Give them a try one day and see what you think.

  • Sandi says:

    I want those shoes!!!

  • Mijune says:

    @Daniel – I’m CONFIDENT she can make it happen lol!

    @Laura – The thing is…. I don’t want to sounds snooty about this… but I think most of the line had never tried a macaron or know what a good one is. I REALLY don’t want to sound snobby about this, but so many people I talked to there had only tried a couple in their lifetime, none at all, or didn’t know what it was. There’s no on site bakery, so I don’t think the cookies were made there either. They did come out on baking trays, but I think it was delivered on them.

    @vivian – LOL!! Vivian!!! You’re so funny!! And sweet too!! Thank you!! Yes, don’t feel like you’re missing out on too much, it wasn’t worth a 2 hour line and i couldn’t convince myself that it was. And sooo expensive…i just got them in a bag, but if you get them in a box it’s like $4 more of something crazy.

    Ohh I still have to go to The Sweet Spot! What else do you recommend?!

    @Sandi – lol they’re pretty aren’t they!?!?

  • vivian says:

    I would definitely try their Banana Cream Pie. I had one of your OMG food experiences after eating that sensational dessert! It was the perfect combination of bananas with luscious sweet creamy custard all encased in a thin chocolate cookie crust and topped off with freshly whipped cream and coconut shavings!!! I’m telling you, it’s worth the drive over just for that.

  • Linda says:

    awww man! i was really looking forward to trying out these macarons! i actually went to paris 4 years ago and it was during a time where i wasn’t too much of a foodie so i didn’t really care about macarons! boy i wish i could go back in time just so i could try the original laduree location! i’m headed to nyc next year and i’ll let you know how it goes on my end… i’m so sad that you waited 2hrs though and it wasn’t even worth it! 2 hours!!!!!! ahhH!

    my favorite flavour is pistachio and i always get it when i eat macarons but this time around, maybe i’ll get more of the vanilla flavour… the flavours itself seem innovative but the fact that they didn’t deliver makes it kind of a downer 🙁

  • Mijune says:

    @vivian – omg your description sounds amazing. and I trust you! it almost reminds me of that coconut cream pie at Dahlia’s Bakery! ok ok viv… i gotta try!

    @Linda – I LOVE LOVE LOVE pistachio too!! but seriously the composition…. you can look at the photos and just see what I mean! *sigh*… let me know how it goes dear!

  • WS says:

    Mijune, are you trying any macarons for your current Montreal trip(you are in Quebec City for how longer)? Curious, how would the best macarons in Montreal, compare the best in NYC & Vancouver.

  • Mijune says:

    @WS – no macarons isn’t on my “must try” list although I’ve sampled a couple while being here. I might go to one more place known for them… I’m not sure if I’ve had the “best” anywhere yet since I would need to try them all… but so far Vancouver is fine with the macaroons they offer although it might not be “the best” globally. We’re not doing a bad job at all lol

  • Julia says:

    Hey Mijune, if you’re still in Montreal, there should be a place that sells ice cream macarons, called Point G (1266, ave. Du Mont-Royal E, Montreal Québec, H2J 1Y3). Personally haven’t had it yet, but my friends had and liked them. Just warning- the ratio will definitely be filling > cookie haha

  • Mijune says:

    @Julia – omg Julia!!! I love Point G!!! That’s my favourite for macarons so far!!!! http://www.followmefoodie.com/2011/12/montreal-quebec-point-g-parisian-macarons/

  • Julia says:

    I definitely need to go! I trust your judgement 😉

  • Zack says:

    I’m glad I found your post on this shop. I’m heading to new York this summer with specific instructions to purchase a box of macarons for my sister. She tried them in Paris a couple years ago and raved about them. I’m definitely going to arrive before they open to avoid a 2 hour line. Not the prettiest looking execution, the ones from Thierry and Thomas Hass look much nicer.
    Cheers

  • Mijune says:

    @Zack – awesome! To be honest the Laduree ones in NY are flown in from Paris, but they were soft and not crisp and perhaps just a bit (or a lot) mass produced. Thierry’s are on the soft side as well in my opinion. Try Soirette… the flavours aren’t as strong, but the execution is good!

  • Vanessa says:

    This was a great read. Unfortunately, I have a nut allergy, I am desperate to try one of these but think I’d rather skip the use of my EpiPen! Do you or anyone know if Laduree produces a Nut-Free version of these delightful macarons? (I guess this is kind of like asking if they make make a chocolate-free chocolate cake) Please say yes : (

  • Mijune says:

    @Vanessa – lol yes! That is asking if there is such thing as a chocolate-free chocolate cake! Are you allergic to almonds though? Almonds are not really nuts… they are drupes or seeds. Many classify it as a nut.. check with your doctor if you are allergic to nuts in general or specific “nuts”. I’m in Vancouver so I’m not sure if New York has any nut free macarons.. but it shouldn’t be called a macron if it is almond free… it should be called a cookie acting as a macaron or something lol

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