Ladurée macarons in their sleek box (Louis Beche)
For years, everyone—especially New Yorkers—has been clamoring for the death of the cupcakes. Let those pastel-colored, frosting-slathered, sprinkled-adorned, oh-so-cute sugar bombs be over! Can we puh-leeze move on?? And it would appear, with Ladurée’s arrival on Madison Avenue, New Yorkers may finally get their wish: the macaron could soon trump the cupcake as the sweet du jour.
Ladurée’s new NYC store, and its line of fans (Amy Thomas)
Of course Parisians are well acquainted with Ladurée, the 149-year-old salon de thé that purportedly invented the macaron. But with the exception of savvy New Yorkers who used to raid the Champs-Elysées store for a box of Technicolor two-bite treats, and then proudly parade their pale green shopping bags around the Upper East Side, the French brand has remained an exotic import to New Yorkers. Which explains the two-hour queues.
Ladurée macarons (Yuichi Sakuraba)
To be fair, by the time I made it to Ladurée, three weeks after it opened, the line was down to a 15-minute wait. As if I were a macaron virgin, the dauntless teenager in front of me who had previously waited hours for a Ladurée hit, told me the sweets “were totally worth the wait.” Meanwhile, a well-coiffed, apron-outfitted mademoiselle regulated the door, not only to control the floods of groupies, but also to keep the inside of the boutique cool for the delicate douceurs.
The line in front of Ladurée’s new NYC store (Amy Thomas)
The maiden New York outpost is a more modest affair than the ones in Paris. There are 15 macaron flavors—including the only-in-America cinnamon raisin, seasonal options (strawberry-mint, green apple) and perennial favorites (lemon, cassis)—along with a small selection of chocolates; financiers and madeleines; plus packaged jams and teas. And although they don’t sell viennoiseries or gateaux individuels, you can bring home a candle, journal, tote bag or other branded accessory to prove you’ve broached the famed patisserie’s doors.
American macarons, still Ladurée (Vivian Mac)
Within another week or two, Ladurée’s lines shouldn’t be any longer than the ones in Paris. But when the full-blown salon de thé opens in Soho next spring (yes, really!), the macaron madness should be just as over-the-top as the cupcake craze has been.
Ladurée, 864 Madison Avenue, (646) 558-3157. Open Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 6. Macarons in 15 flavors are $2.70 each.