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« And NYC's best burger is...? | Main | Dinner at Tulcingo del Valle, 4/30/09 »
Friday
May082009

Macaron Mission: NYC

All hail the perfection that is Laduree!

Does NYC have:

  • Some of the best restaurants in the world? Yes
  • Best specialty food shops? Yes
  • Largest population of world-renowned chefs? Yes

If the above are true, then why am I having such a difficult time finding a fabulous French macaron in NYC? (Note that I’m NOT referring to the coconut clumps that Manischewitz carries at your local grocery store.) Ever since I returned home from Paris last month, I’ve been on a macaron mission. I’m fully aware that there are plenty of things that the French do better (trust me). But come on, doesn’t at least one NYC boulangerie make something vaguely similar to the lovely jewel-toned treats I enjoyed so much in France?

Blame my high expectations on the assortment from Laduree in Paris, or the handmade lemon macarons that Chef Davy Tissot presented to my sister and me in Lyon.

What makes a good French macaron?

  • Both traditional and exotic cookie “shell” flavors
  • Fillings beyond dark chocolate ganache (including, but not limited to, confiture and crème)
  • Precise “top cookie shell-to filling-to bottom cookie shell” ratio
  • The texture of the cookie “shells” should be crispy, but not crunchy, and soft, but not chewy.

My NYC “macaron mission” has begun! The list below will continue to grow until I find Gotham’s “macaron holy grail.” Listed in chronological order of when eaten:


1) Kee’s Chocolates (satellite outpost inside HSBC, 54th & 5th)

  • Were there both traditional and exotic cookie “shell” flavors? YES
  • Were there fillings beyond dark chocolate ganache (including, but not limited to, confiture and crème)? NO
  • How was the “top cookie shell-to filling-to bottom cookie shell” ratio? GOOD
  • The texture of the cookie “shells” should be crispy, but not crunchy, and soft, but not chewy. How were these? COOKIE SHELLS WERE TOO CRUNCHY
  • Report card score: C+

2) Itzy Bitzy Patisserie:

  • Were there both traditional and exotic cookie “shell” flavors? YES
  • Were there fillings beyond dark chocolate ganache (including, but not limited to, confiture and crème)? ONLY GANACHE AND CRÈME
  • How was the “top cookie shell-to filling-to bottom cookie shell” ratio? PERFECT
  • The texture of the cookie “shells” should be crispy, but not crunchy, and soft, but not chewy. How were these? PERFECT
  • Report card score: B+

3) La Maison du Chocolat (shipped frozen from Paris to NYC shop 3x/week):

  • Were there both traditional and exotic cookie “shell” flavors? YES
  • Were there fillings beyond dark chocolate ganache (including, but not limited to, confiture and crème)? NO
  • How was the “top cookie shell-to filling-to bottom cookie shell” ratio? PERFECT
  • The texture of the cookie “shells” should be crispy, but not crunchy, and soft, but not chewy. How were these? PERFECT
  • Report card score: B+

4) Payard Ladies and gents, I think we *may* have a winner!

  • Were there both traditional and exotic cookie “shell” flavors? YES
  • Were there fillings beyond dark chocolate ganache (including, but not limited to, confiture and crème)? YES! CONFITURE WAS SPOTTED INSIDE OF THE RASPBERRY MACARON!
  • How was the “top cookie shell-to filling-to bottom cookie shell” ratio? PERFECT
  • The texture of the cookie “shells” should be crispy, but not crunchy, and soft, but not chewy. How were these? PERFECT
  • Report card score: A+

5) Ceci-Cela:

  • Were there both traditional and exotic cookie “shell” flavors? OF THE 2 I TRIED, BOTH WERE TRADITIONAL
  • Were there fillings beyond dark chocolate ganache (including, but not limited to, confiture and crème)? YES!
  • How was the “top cookie shell-to filling-to bottom cookie shell” ratio? PERFECT
  • The texture of the cookie “shells” should be crispy, but not crunchy, and soft, but not chewy. How were these? PERFECT
  • Report card score: A+

6) Macaron Cafe:

  • Were there both traditional and exotic cookie “shell” flavors? YES
  • Were there fillings beyond dark chocolate ganache (including, but not limited to, confiture and crème)? YES
  • How was the “top cookie shell-to filling-to bottom cookie shell” ratio? PERFECT
  • The texture of the cookie “shells” should be crispy, but not crunchy, and soft, but not chewy. How were these? PERFECT, HOWEVER, THE FLAVOR OF THE COOKIE "SHELLS" WAS FOUL.  MY ONLY GUESS AS TO WHY WOULD BE THEIR LACK OF GLUTEN.  CAN SOMEONE PLEASE ADVISE?
  • Report card score: B-

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Reader Comments (11)

I personally don't get too excited about macarons, but I like the ones at the tiny Macaron Cafe... http://www.yelp.com/biz/macaron-cafe-nyc-new-york

May 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

After recently taking a trip to Paris and being turned onto macarons at Pierre Hermes, I have had a craving that has yet to be satisfied in the States. You have done a good job with this article, as I have also had similar opinions at a couple of these places; however, I have a tip that is about to blow your mind. If you love macarons like I do, you need to try the ones from www.bisousciao.com
The chef was trained in Paris, and she only delivers them inside NYC!

July 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon K

John, Brandon: Thank you for the feedback! I've been meaning to get over to the Macaron Cafe.
Brandon, I just checked out the bisousciao site and it looks unbelieveable! Those macarons are gorgeous. Please, do tell me more about your experience!!

xx, TLB

July 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Lady Who Lunches

I was also very impressed by bisousciao's website. I thought that it was beautifully crafted yet easy to use. I was fortunate enough to try some of these macarons at a friends house (she had ordered them) and after taking my first bite I was immediately back in Paris... the delicate structure, elegant texture, and perfect flavor of these macarons were on par with the best I had in Paris (and unfortunately above and beyond the macarons that I have tasted thus far in the States). I also found this other blog that did a nice job capturing their experience with bisousciao:
http://mindysrecipefordisaster.wordpress.com/2009/07/17/mad-for-macarons/

I would love to see how you would rank these macarons (and if you would agree that they are probably the best in NYC).

Cheers!

July 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon

I know Itzy Bitzy had non-ganache & creme fillings. Only bought them twice, but oh how I miss IB's macarons! She made the closest macarons to PH. I hope she gets another outlet soon.

October 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

I am really a not out-going person when it comes to "macaron" other than the best local restaurant at Pittsburgh which is nearby. I have been going there sinche my childhood and attached to its very good taste and service...

May 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBest Restaurants

I'm glad to find some macaron enthusiasts! I find that a lot of the macarons in US are much sweeter and looses its delicate texture. The creme tends to make the cookie feeling stale, soft, and more rubbery. From all of those places mentioned above. I've only tried Kee's, maison du chocolat, and Macaron cafe. I tend not to order ones online because i feel that they wont be fresh. Kee's is more of a hit and miss. They're known for their chocolates more. I only like their rose lycee one. I prefer my macarons with a creme filled center. As for macaron cafe. I actually like their creme flavors but not the texture too much. Maison du chocolat has better texture but there're only few flavors to choose from. Payard was the first one i ruled out. it was overly sweet for me. I didn't really like it. Other places i've tried are:

Bouchon Bakery - cookie doesn't have much taste to it
Madeleine Patisserie - i like the passion fruit one
Bouley Bakery - i tired the big one in a pastry with rose flavor. I like it
Dessert Club Chikalicious - amateur level to me, filling taste like cupcake icing from their cupcakes, needs improvement, sweetness level was good
Financier - i rather have their other pastries. Macaron isn't their forte

Another place i want to try is J' Chanceux Macaron...

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermac

J' Chanceux Macaron! I've not yet heard of this spot. Thank you so much for the tip! Lovely post, too. :)

June 3, 2010 | Registered CommenterThe Lady Who Lunches

Great stuff here! I love Love LOVE macarons and found this blog very useful. I'm not sure if it the same as was previously mentioned, but a "Bisous, ciao" just opened up in the Lower East Side on Stanton St. My boyfriend (who is French) and I bought 6, and were very impressed. He said they were the closest thing to the ones in Paris (but I think they were better). :)

Keep writing!

September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Thanks for this!! I just started a blog on wordpress about macarons in NYC http://perfectmacaroninnyc.wordpress.com/ and will try Payard ASAP!!

I wish Ladurée or Pierre Hermé would just open in NYC :-/

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

Congratulations! I'm going to check out your blog right now! What a cool site to start, especially because the experts are saying that macarons are slated to be the next "big" thing! Let me know what you thought of Payard - note that the Payard that I went to was his original store on the UES, prior to his move to Soho.
Take care...TLB

March 31, 2011 | Registered CommenterThe Lady Who Lunches

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