This year, I received the sweetest treat yet on my birthday, February 4th: an exclusive invitation to the opening of Ladurée’s very first tea salon and restaurant in Soho, New York City.  The unveiling was the very picture of exquisite art de vivre as fashionable, hand-selected guests arrived to experience the lush invite-only opening party, catching a glimpse and a taste of Ladurée’s expert culinary delights a day before doors opened to the public in general.

Stepping into Ladurée’s new Soho location is like being transported to the most eloquent of Parisian tea salons.  Gorgeous neoclassical styling and an array of custom-made furniture and authentic antiques from Parisian shops fill out the space.  The color palette of pale tones of greens, dusty blues and blushing roses harmonizes beautifully with the decadent pastries themselves.

Every aspect of the opening was exhilarating, and the chefs prepared the finest dishes in the classic Ladurée style of excellence.  Every morsel I tasted was decadent and delicious, and left me craving just one more bite.  Dinner was just as delightful as the pastries, but naturally, when it comes to the decision of whether or not to indulge in dessert, it is unthinkable that one should pass up an opportunity to devour one of Ladurée’s beguiling, edible works of art.

I had the distinct pleasure of returning to Ladurée for breakfast, a private tour of the property and even the kitchen, where all manner of magic transpires.  The highlight was chatting with Elisabeth Holder Raberin, who recounted the history of Ladurée for me and shared her love for Ladurée, even as a child discovering its intricacies for the first time.  We talked about the expansion of Ladurée in the USA and internationally.  I’m still crossing my fingers that she and Pierre-Antoine will extend the Ladurée tradition to Dallas and open another enticing location at the Highland Park Village!

When you visit Ladurée’s Soho location for yourself, you will be blown away by the 2150 square foot property which opens onto a 2530 square foot garden, shaded by pretty cherry blossoms.  Boasting five different areas, each aspect of the property exudes its own sense of style and charm.  From the picture-perfect boutique to the tea salon and elegant full-service restaurant, not an inch of the property is without the touch of luxury.  Feminine in character, the ambiance is also one of sensuous decadence.  The Ladurée taste and feel unites the entire space flawlessly.

The sales counter at the Soho address is composed entirely of the purest white marble, to best exhibit all of Ladurée’s sweetest delights as they pass from this impossibly beautiful French realm out into the bustle of NYC.  Handcrafted pastries, the iconic macaron, chocolates and other fairy tale temptations compose Ladurée’s collection of impossibly irresistible treats.  I loved the elegant cabinet-like showcase displaying every type of sweet and luxuriously crafted box available to nibble on in-house or take away for a romantic moment elsewhere.  Simply seductive!  Be sure to try my personal favorites: rose, caramel with salted butter and vanilla- I’m sure you will love them just as much as I!

The Paéva Salon is beautifully arranged with an artistic bent, easily recognized by the majestic, plaster caryatids lining the wall.  I enjoyed the unexpected artfulness of the stormy ceiling painting, which, instead of making the salon feel tumultuous, adds to the calm and elegance of the simplistically tasteful atmosphere.  Successive salons include the Madeleine Castaing Salon and The Pompadour Salon, equally exuberant and intimate.  Lovely trimmings and textiles are illuminated by gorgeous chandeliers that diffuse a soft light over the sophisticated scene.  Charming, regal and inspirational, I’m sure you will feel as refined and genteel as I when stepping in for a spot of tea and macaron…or two.

A gem of a garden is open to guests in fair weather, where cherry blossoms shade those intent upon exulting in the calm of this haven.  A fountain creates a relaxing soundscape, joined by the cooing of birds nestled in the trees.  It will be easy to forget you’re in the heart of the city when escaping here for a specialty lunch or to nibble an afternoon treat.

Even if you don’t have time to dine in, and enjoy a luxurious moment away from the rest of your day, be sure to snag a dainty box of sweet temptations so you can share in the romance.  Ladurée is truly the epitome of beauty, exquisite taste and decadence, and with the new Soho location, more guests than ever can truly partake of this culture of refinement.