Ladurée SoHo, a tea salon evoking the atmosphere of 19th century Paris, opens its doors today in New York City’s Soho neighborhood. This is Ladurée’s second outpost in the U.S.—the French import’s first site on New York’s Upper East Side, which opened a little over two years ago, is a retail boutique that sells its world-famous macarons, flown in weekly from Paris.
The Ladurée company, owned by Groupe Holder since 1993, has expanded its operations to 65 locations scattered throughout the globe, in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, South America, and the U.S. Another retail boutique is opening later this month in Miami.
Ladurée SoHo is fashioned after the company’s flagship tea salon on Paris’ Champs-Elysées. It features two separate salons, the Salon de Madeleine Castaing and Salon de Pompadour; a retail boutique, where macarons, viennoiseries, pastries, fine gourmet products, and accessories are sold; and an outdoor terrace/garden space, opening in spring for al fresco dining. A third salon, Salon de Paéva, is located in the same area as the boutique, offering seating for around 12.
Executive chef Johann Giraud is overseeing the menu at Ladurée SoHo, which tenders classic French cuisine along with a nod or two to current tastes, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and, of course, afternoon tea. Omelettes, Duck Foie Gras served with a seasonal macaron and Ladurée Kougloff, and Chicken Breast “Vol-au-Vent” with wild mushrooms and cream sauce are presented alongside the specially developed Salade Soho, consisting of chicken filet, kale, artichoke, celeriac, mushrooms, preserved red onions, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds in a fresh cilantro, lemon juice, and olive oil dressing.
Jimmy LeClerc, executive pastry chef, serves indulgent French confections, such as Millefeuille Praline, a caramelized puff pastry, praline cream, almond pralines, and crispy hazelnuts, and Ispahan, with smooth rose-flavored macaron biscuit, rose petal cream, fresh raspberries, and lychees.
Ladurée SoHo serves 26 different teas, along with hot chocolate and a full selection of coffees.
The interior, designed to invoke a “luxurious and intimate Parisian ambience,” is furnished with French antiques and artisan-created ceiling frescoes in the retail boutique area and in the Pompadour room. The later also features a mosaic floor assembled from five different types of marble. The walls of the Castaing salon are adorned with framed letters from famous French writers, such as Colette, Juliette Récamier, and George Sand.
Tea salons may conjure up imagery of a more genteel era, but they are part of a growing trend travelling across the country, with more than 4,000 specialty tea houses now located nationwide, in towns both big and small, reports the Tea Association of the USA. In addition, nearly all upscale hotels offer an afternoon tea service. Even Starbucks has jumped on board, opening its first Teavana tea bar in New York City this past November.
The coffee titan is looking to tap into Americans’ skyrocketing interest in the ancient beverage. In the U.S. alone, the wholesale value of tea sold catapulted from under $2 billion a decade ago to well over $10 billion today.
By Joann Whitcher
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