I remember when Laduree first opened in Sydney a few years ago. The excitement from Sydney food bloggers and locals alike was truly palpable – a Paris dessert institution opening in Sydney, with their signature macarons flown in from Paris every week? It was what many Francophiles had been dreaming of for years.
For my part, I wasn’t quite as excited as others. While it was true that Laduree opening in Paris was exciting, I didn’t like the idea of the macarons not being made fresh in Australia – that week’s delay between baking in Paris and consumption in Sydney was unacceptable in my mind.
Unsurprisingly then, the first place we went to almost immediately after arriving in Paris was the original Laduree shop and restaurant on Rue Royale for a late afternoon tea. I was determined to have, for the first time in my life, fresh Laduree macarons. It was quite late by the time we arrived, and so had no issues simply walking in and requesting a table at their tea salon upstairs.
The tea salon harks back to another era. Wooden panelling, gold gilt-edged mirrors, plush carpet, tiny marble-topped tables, wooden chairs with spindly legs and plush couches make up the room, and you can almost imagine that you’re back in 1862, in the year they first opened.
Their signature light blue and decorative gold colour scheme evokes a sense of high-style glamour, not unlike the blue of Tiffany’s & Co. Luckily for my husband’s bank account though, my greedy guts would much prefer a gift box from Laduree than Tiffany’s!
Knowing that I would be ordering quite sweet delicacies for our afternoon tea, I decided a simple tea to help cleanse the palate in between sweet treats – a signature Laduree Marie-Antoinette tea. It’s described on the menu as a “delicious marriage of Chinese and Indian black teas combined with rose petals, citrus fruit and honey. A bucolic walk at the Petit Trianon.” I was hesitant to order it initially as I’m not a big fan of fruity teas, but I found this one surprisingly subtle, with the citrus helping to enhance the crispness and fullness of the black tea, without subduing it under an overly fruity flavour. A fantastic little palate-cleansing black tea – no sugar or milk needed!
Ordering the Chocolat Chaud Laduree was a must – I’d gotten the taste for hot chocolates after our time in Belgium, and I was determined to enjoy a good hot chocolate in Paris, a dessert capital of the world. The Laduree hot chocolate was intensely thick and rich, especially as I’d asked for a dark hot chocolate. The richness of the full-bodied dark cocoa was heavenly, creamy on the palate and surprisingly not too sweet despite its richness. K found it a bit intense after a couple of sips, but I was happy to finish it off!
Of course, it’s impossible to go to Laduree and not order some of their signature macarons. Interestingly, they do “macarons” and “mini macarons”. The ones that we get in Australia are actually what they term mini-macarons, with the full-size ones being much larger! I have to say I prefer the mini-macarons as the bite-sized treats mean that you get to try many more flavours.
We ordered 4 mini-macarons of your choice, opting for Pistachio, Chocolate, Orange Blossom and Salted Caramel. I’ve never quite tasted a pistachio macaron with that intensity of fresh pistachio flavour before – you could tell that they had used fresh nuts, rather than old dried-out nuts. Even though chocolate and salted caramel are some of my favourite dessert flavours, I have to say that the orange blossom macaron was actually my pick here as it was a lot more delicate on the tongue, with a longer-lasting flavour that you could really savour.
We topped off our indulgent afternoon tea with a ‘Laduree Emblematic Pastry’, the Saint-Honore Rose Framboise. It’s described on the menu as “Puff pastry, cream puff pastry, light rose petal custard cream, raspberry compote, rose-flavoured Chantilly whipped cream, rose syrup fondant, raspberries”. I was fascinated to see how this dessert would turn out, because in my experience, many patisseries tend to have a heavy hand whenever they use rose flavouring which can quite spoil a dessert.
This definitely wasn’t the case here – the pastry of the Saint-Honore was delectably light and fluffy and the whipped cream and custard neatly dissolved on the tongue, leaving behind the slightest hint of floral rose syrup. With the strong tang of the fresh juicy raspberries, the Saint-Honore was definitely a dessert to be relished slowly with each bite bringing joy to your palate.
An afternoon tea at Laduree is not for those on a tight budget – indeed, we definitely broke our own budget when dining there. However if you want to enjoy their treats without spending too much, you can go into their shop next to the restaurant. Buy a half dozen macarons, take them down to the Tuileries Gardens which are a mere five minutes’ walk away, and sit down and savour them. The best sweets, in a beautiful Parisian destination. Heaven.
Laduree is located at 16 Rue Royale, Paris.