10 December 2012

Ladurée: Afternoon tea with a French macaron, Westfield Sydney (10 Dec 2012)

Level 3, Westfield Sydney, 100 Market Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Ladurée is French for pricey

I've never been a huge fan of macarons — give me a French mixed berry tart any day. But if you're going to have one I guess you might as well try it from the place that seems to be famous for them. There was no way I was going to queue for an hour when Ladurée first opened in Westfield Sydney but now that the 'latest craze' is over it's a lot more relaxed to just wander by for a table. Although with only six small tables (2 people) and two large tables (4 people) you might still have to wait when they're all snapped up. Our group of five around the larger table is a bit of squeeze and I find the seats quite uncomfortable. They're set rather low so long-legged customers will find their knees slanted up but for shorter people they'll probably be just right. The well-groomed and nicely-presented service is friendly and polite. I go for the Hot chocolate ($8) hoping for the best since it's so pricey. It would seem more reasonable if it included a macaron or even a marshmallow but I'm assuming the richly flavoured dark chocolate is good quality. There's no mention of what kind of chocolate it is like a single origin but my preference is still the normal milky style I'd get from Caffé Due Mondi. The small pot makes about two cups so perhaps one to share since it's quite rich.

My Salted Caramel Macaron ($4 dine in) is perhaps a bit smaller than Bistro Baroque but slightly larger than Café Cre Asion if my memory serves me right. Consistency of the filling is firm but not hard and the outer shell dissolves quite easily to the bite. Flavour and texture is enjoyable for what it is. In terms of presentation it seems to pass the Parisian Macaron Crimes & Misdemeanors test by Paris Patisseries. At $4 a pop it's a pricey sugar hit but for some it's probably worth it. I guess it's not cheap being flown in from Switzerland. Ladurée tries to create a little tea house oasis bordered by plastic green hedging but being in the middle of a shopping centre thoroughfare has it's challenges. Good for advertising to the public but if a few people are queuing for a table expect a few evil eyes as they look over your shoulder in anticipation that you'll be finishing soon. The centre background music can also be a little loud, distracting and at odds with the Parisian dream. I can still hear the Christmas songs ringing in my head from our afternoon tea visit.

PROS: Nice gift packaging, Their branding is famous to many, A good variety of flavours available, The queues have now died down, Service seemed friendly and helpful, Great spot for people watching doing their shopping
CONS: Pricey, Uncomfortable dine in seating for tall people, Limited table space, Carbon miles for importing macarons is a shame compared to cheaper locally produced macrons
MUST TRY: Doing my own blind taste test like Time Out Sydney — but I'd match the same flavours from each store to compare
VERDICT: Ladurée is one of those places that I think is fun to visit at least once if you're curious. I'm not sure if I'd visit again due to the price, seating and shopping centre atmosphere but it leaves me curious to try their other flavours and their packaging makes for a very special looking gift albeit pricey one
Salted caramel macaron ($4 dine in, $3.20 take away)

Ladurée hot chocolate ($8 dine in)

Dark and slightly thick. Quite different from your usual milky cafe version.

Bill $58 for five

Five people doesn't leave much room for all the cups and tea pots

I noticed on other tables their teapots had little L labelled napkins over the handles but they were missing on ours

We needed to ask for milk as none was provided with the teas. Perhaps the French don't add milk to their tea.

Interesting tea bag design

Seats are quite low

Macaron menu ($4 dine in, $3.20 take away)


Castlereagh entrance is the best way to get to Ladurée on Level 3

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Ladurée on Urbanspoon


Christine @ Cooking Crusade said...

Another great review Simon! I am dying to visit for the first time but like you said, its probably too $$ to be a regular thing. Love the cups they have - so beautiful!

Martine @ Chompchomp said...

When somewhere has that much hype - it does actually say something if they managed to live up to it. As for the expense. If a macaron is good.... I'm one of those mental enough to pay for it. Too many badly made ones out there! Unfortunately I doubt Laduree will be heading west

Vivian - vxdollface said...

Never realised it costed more to dine in!

Sarah said...

I'm with you Simon and not into the hype of the Macaron, there are much better European sweets out there to wrap my lips around. As for the $7.50 price tag on a cup of tea, I was gobsmacked. I won't be drinking a cuppa in a shopping centre and paying that price.

Sara - Belly Rumbles said...

I think I am now over the macaron hype. I will try Laduree eventually as I feel I should know what they are like. Nice review.

Denny@feedmycamera said...

At first, I never understood why macarons cost so much, but after you try to make these bad boys, its easy to see why one would charge so much for them. but $4? they're about $3 in Paris. Talking about Paris,I think Gerard Mulot's and Sadaharu Aoki's Macarons are far better.

missklicious said...

I've been once and haven't returned - agree that it is quite pricey, there's definitely better out there! (the packaging is so pretty though)

Simon Leong said...

hi christine, i think the curiosity will get a lot of people to try it at least once

hi martine, there's many like you that are willing to pay top dollar for a macaron. a bit like me with oysters i think.

hi vivian, sure does. that's plates add to the washing up :-)

hi sarah, hot chocolate cost even more although i wouldn't be having that one again for that price.

hi sara, good to hear your over the macron hype. i think i was over it before it even started :-)

hi denny, i've seen how they're made so i wouldn't want to make them myself too. i think there's now machines that can make them but not sure if ladurée use them. i'm thinking they would though because they're making so many.

hi missklicious, you're paying for the packaging that's for sure. makes for a very nice looking present.

Scott said...

I do enjoy a good macaron, however you will not get me to fork out for these ones, which are flown in frozen from Europe.

Fresh is best, & there are plenty of outstanding examples made in Sydney.

Simon Leong said...

hi scott, definitely lots of local macaron makers in Sydney and all cheaper I believe although I none of them seem to match the packaging that Ladurée have.

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