Celebrating my first day off in 9 days and only my 2nd day off since Black Friday I hopped on a plane and headed east from CMH to LGA – no delays, a good tail-wind, and a quick trip on the M60 landed me at Penn Station shortly after 9am. A quick check of the map and a short walk and I soon found myself standing in front of Madeline Patisserie – according to many the home of the best macarons in
Entering the small shop I was greeted by two small ladies with pronounced French accents and the smells of sugar, butter, and cinnamon and browsing the restaurant I was delighted by the multi-colored treats and confections as well as the rustic layout of the furniture and small open kitchen in back. With each item looking more delectable than the next and lunch reservations for Convivio at noon I knew I’d have to temper my ordering – an agonizing process with 18 types of macarons available, many fresh from the kitchen.
Making my selections and paying the tab ($10 minimum on credit cards, FYI) I next made my way to the seats in back to indulge. Beginning my tasting was one of the restaurant’s namesake items – a pistachio Madeline. Light and buttery but somewhat less crisp than other madelines I do admit I liked the pistachio flavor, but still prefer the traditional light-lemon essence.
Following the Madeline, the item by which I tend to judge any French patisserie – the Almond Croissant. Perfectly crisp shell, light and fluffy interior with a thin layer of pureed almonds, and topped with sugar that had nearly caramelized in the cooking process – for all intents and purposes nearly the perfect croissant in flavor and texture, albeit a little deflated in circumference. Delectable and on par with Francois Payard’s example as the best Almond Croissant I’d experienced.
My final selections were, naturally, a selection of macarons. Deciding to select a total of four I first began with two “standards” for the sake of comparison – a Pistachio and a Chocolate. Light and airy crumb with a crisp shell on mastication, both examples were good but not “great,” though I did appreciate the use of a gelee/compote in the Pistachio and a ganache in the Chocolate. The following choices were a bit less traditional and actually much better than the other options - Caramel Fleur de Sel and White Russian. Similarly crisp yet somewhat dry cookies in these cases housed flawless compotes with the flavors of intensely salty caramel and a creamy rum similar in flavor to the sauce of a traditional bread pudding.
Featuring good (but not stellar) macarons I think Madeline would be well served to narrow their selections and perfect a few choices rather than offering multiple average cookies with good to great fillings. Prices were on par with other similar places such as Bouley and Payard and slightly less than La Maison, Bouchon, or Petrossian – three places that, IMO, offer a better quality overall product and experience.