Maison Ladurée Opens Inside a Princely Beirut Villa
Ladurée has been treating the Lebanese public to their signature macarons for a couple of years now. Points of sale could be found inside a flagship store along Rue Foch as well as at kiosks nestled in ABC Achrafieh and Le Mall Dbayeh.
Several months ago, the standalone shop shuttered, and not long thereafter, the Dbayeh station disappeared. I was crushed. Was the world-renowned house of macarons following in the fateful footsteps of other high-end pastry shops in Lebanon?
|Trays of signature macarons--don't they look like a Candy Crush grid?
To date, Fauchon opened a corner perch in Gemmayze just a few years ago, but its destiny was downsized to the form of a counter inside City Mall Dora.
Sweet Tea was the brainchild of Michelin-starred pastry chef Yannick Alleno. The daintiest French pastries could be enjoyed inside the immaculate white space and on the garden terrace, and even when Alleno withdrew from the concept two years later, it was perpetuated by Beirut Hospitality Company under the name The Garden. The dessert items were carefully preserved, though the tea selection was altered. Sadly, The Garden cleared out its inventory last month and is no more.
In light of these closures, I wasn’t prepared to comprehend that La Maison Ladurée would be opening a lavish tearoom inside a stately villa in Minet el Hosn, right across from the Elie Saab showroom. In fact, Villa Zein comes outfitted with high ceilings, a spacious garden, and a long counter displaying the gamut of Ladurée gourmandises. It will serve as both a salon du thé and a restaurant, dishing out savory food at brunch and throughout the day. So that explains the Foch shop termination!
|Other sweet treats crafted by Ladurée, including a Mont Blanc in the background
At the opening soirée a few nights ago, I had the rare privilege of meeting David Holder, Chairman of Ladurée and Vice Chairman of Holder Group which oversees Ladurée, Paul and a bakery called Chateau Blanc. Holder emanates from the rural area of Lille in France, and at the young ripe age of 25, he was named to his present title by his father. Now in his mid-40s, Holder's deep-seated belief in the family business is profuse.
He told me that expansion would extend as far west as the US, with stores in Miami, New York, Los Angeles, and Washington DC. I pitched Boston, a pseudo-European stronghold bustling with students, intellectuals and socialites, but Holder confided that the company philosophy is to be deliberate and organic—one small step at a time.
Here in the Middle East, Jordan is being eyed carefully, and the day following the launch, Holder flew from Beirut to Amman to study the prospects of a Ladurée bastion there.
Believe it or not, that evening I didn’t even sample one macaron or pastry for that matter! The villa was teeming with hundreds of chic and seasoned socialites, and it proved arduous wading through the crowds for the taste of those delicate sugar parcels. My consolation was the chat with Holder and a glass of fine rosé bubbly.
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