July 29, 2010

Laduree revisited

The service could not be worse. I am giving Laduree a second try before an early morning hair appointment. I stand by the sign telling the world to please wait to be seated. I wait for 8 minutes and am the only person in line. As two women blow past the sign and seat themselves it feels prudent to follow suite. There appears to be one person working/serving/ignoring the tea room on Rue Royal. She looks at me, then looks away. I walk into the less than half filled room and sit down at a table, taking note of several sticky, dirty cup rings. Five minutes pass and a woman appears, asking me something in French. I don't even make an effort.

 "Do you speak English?" . 

"How many people are sitting here?"


 "This table is for four."

"Where would you like me to sit?"

She points half-heartedly to the next table over. 


I wait another ten minutes for someone to take my order. A man appears. 

"Are you ready?'

"I've been ready for 20 minutes."

I am served a not particularly great cup of coffee and four pastries that could be gathered at a Residence Inn breakfast buffet.

 What brought me back you might ask? Pure nostalgia and love of the macaroon. I adore macaroons. Each little bite is a scrumptious burst of flavor, light, airy yet somehow chewy. The colors are divine with a highly imaginative assortment of yummy flavors. Then there is the nostalgia. My first encounter with Laduree was 20 years ago on my honeymoon where I fell head over heels into enchantment. It was early spring, brisk outside, warm and bubbling in. The tea salon was chock full of chic and stunning patrons. Particularly appealing was that so many of them were mothers, daughters and utterly adorable granddaughters. It was a Parisian paradise, American in Paris in vivid, breathing technicolor. 

That experience has never been close to recreated.

This summer I finally brought my mother to Laduree. The decor looked shabby, ignored and in need of grooming. The room no longer sat with its back straight up against the chair but had developed the American slouch. Our service was god-awful, beyond rude. It was hot and there was barely any ventilation. My enthusiasm did not completely dim so we ordered omelets and a club sandwich (my five year old was with us) and had an enjoyable time. Unfortunately, my daughter was not with us. The plan was for her to meet up with us with her dad and brother, who was, as usual, running behind  by two hours. But that's another story. As we were leaving our unhurried group arrived. Long story short, (well, relatively) ~ while indulging in reverie at my favorite bookstore in the world – Galignani – I receive two phone calls from my husband complaining about Laduree. Our daughter doesn't know what to order, there is nothing she likes on the menu. This strikes me as odd.  She is very easy to please in a restaurant and almost never complains. Next call, our son wants salmon, should we get it here?

When husband and said children arrive later at Galignani my daughter tells me how much she dislikes macaroons. Oh well.

C'est la vie.   


1 comment

  • Anonymous

    We couldn’t find a Paris taxi– well, one that would stop to pick up one harried American dad and two children. We walked from the Marais half-way to Rue Royale. And, who would have guessed that soft, chewy Lauderee macaroons and opulently rich Parisian chocolat chaud were an acquired adult taste? And, given how long it took to be served a beverage, who could chance a likely hour-long wait for salmon to be prepared and served at a patissierie?

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