Ladurée, Harrods, Knightsbridge

Ladurée is one of my favourite Parisian tea-rooms. They’ve recently opened a branch in Harrods in London, their first outside France. It’s a jewel of a place, with little linked salons in the style of Napoleon III, serving excellent teas, faultlessly French light meals and some of the best patisserie you’ll find in London. These people have style coming out of their ears; Ladurée is the pastry consultant for Sophia Coppola’s film about Marie Antoinette.

My Mum and I were at Harrods for a day of Ladies’ Nice Things, and stopped off for tea and macaroons at Ladurée. Ladurée’s macaroons are what makes them so very famous: crisp discs of ground almonds with a soft middle, sandwiched together with flavoured cream. The macaroons are served festooned with raspberries, pistachio cream and other good things if you have some in the tea-rooms. I bought a large box to take home as well.

These macaroons are flavoured delicately with the highest quality ingredients. There’s a basic range which is available all year round, and some seasonal flavours. (The black one in this box was a seasonal one; liquorice, which was surprisingly subtle and tenderly flavoured.) The flavours aren’t what you’d expect – the pale pink one here is scented with rose petals, the gold one caramel with fleur de sel (sandwiched together with some of the creamiest, most delicious caramel I’ve ever eaten). At certain times of year an orange flower macaroon is available, and I had a violet and cassis one in Paris a few years ago which I still think about fondly on occasion.

Eating at the tea-rooms themselves is a lesson in luxury. Each salon is decorated in a different style; this is the Black Salon, a tiny room packed to the gills with Etruscan caryatids. Zeus, surrounded by snakes, glowers from the middle of the cupola in the ceiling. I am informed that the velvet on the seats is made from pure mohair, and I can’t think of anywhere nicer to enjoy your truffle and morel omelette.

If you visit Ladurée, ask for the violet-scented black tea. I brought a (very expensive) packet home, and it’s glorious stuff; delicately scented and laced with violet and hibiscus flowers. I’m going to have to make another visit in a month or so – I have a dreadful craving for a black truffle religieuse and a large box of marrons glacés.

9 Replies to “Ladurée, Harrods, Knightsbridge”

  1. I’d actually forgotten about it. Worry not; I have made a note on my list of things to do. (I *am* slightly worried, having said that, since it’s extremely improbable that any macarons I come up with are going to be even slightly as good as the Laduree ones.)

  2. An overpriced nightmare, with distinctly average French brasserie fare at incredulously high prices (£14 for a mushroom omlette served by itself, for example) which Ladurée seems to justify by trading off their patisserie reputation.

    I certaintly wouldn’t recommend this place for a meal whilst I would avoid it for tea and patisserie snacks too as the service is cold and unattentive, the environment is not restful as there is a constant flow of shoppers walking through and the tables are awkward and cramped and the prices constitute to daylight robbery.

    Un vrai cauchemar!

  3. Hello Anon, and thanks for the comment. I’m afraid I really have to differ; I’ve had great service there, faultless pastries, and haven’t found the seating cramped (which bit of the restaurant were you in?) – also, Laduree’s position in a corner of the shop means that there isn’t any through-traffic from shoppers, so I’m not sure where your stampede came from.

    I’ll agree that some of the main courses are overpriced, but judicious ordering is always an important part of ensuring a good meal…I’d still happily sell my grandmother for a box of macarons, as long as they threw in a religieuse a la violette as well.

  4. the macaroons here are alright. just alright. the service is horrible, the coffee passable and, yes, the shoppers and tourists reall take away from any attempt at elegance (not that the decor lends itself to that).

  5. It looks like Anonymous here has some kind of axe to grind. At the end of the day, this is La Duree in Harrods, what are you thinking about? You expect to pay less than #14 there, come on? You either don’t get what it costs eat out in London at places such as these or maybe you’re naive to eating at places at such as these, just not London. My breakfast at the Berkeley Hotel was #40 this morning for simple bacon, eggs juice, water and toast. Yes, it’s overpriced but it’s a wonderful experience and totally expected.

    La Duree’s Macarons are original and exceptional. I think they are worth every penny and as a previous London resident now living in New York, I will find any opportunity to swing by La Duree either in Paris or London to bring some back with me.

Leave a Reply to eve Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *