Glamazon journalist Laurie Dhue knows her way around Manhattan. She should – after 17 years in NYC, which included anchor stints at Fox News Channel, MSNBC and The Blaze TV. So when hard-pressed for Dhue to come up with her fave fave place, we thought Dhue might struggle a bit with the myriad of choices offered in the city that never sleeps.
“Let’s go to Lady M!” Dhue beamed. “It sounds like a classy sex shop, but it’s really an exquisite cake place on the Upper East Side. The Mille Crêpe cakes literally melt in your mouth. Heaven in a bite. And I'm not really a cake person.”
At 3:30pm on a lazy Friday, the line at Lady M was already out the door when Dhue and I arrived. There were a smattering of pastry-deprived locals, but the majority of visitors were tourists – including a crush of Asian tourists. “It’s always like this,” Dhue said. “A Japanese friend once told me, ‘Asians love precision -- and we love desserts.’ Boom, there you go. The Mille Crêpe cakes are about as close to perfection as you can get. Each bite tastes like a dream.”
‘Tis true … their trademarked, multi-storied pastries are an elaborate labor of love -- each painstakingly built from scratch. “The Signature Mille Crêpes take about three hours,” said Marketing Manager Kiriko Nakamura. What sets these to-die-for desserts apart from – say, your garden-variety layer cake is easy. The base consists of 20 paper-thin crêpes layered with a combination of pastry crème and whipped crème. Sound simplistic? It’s not. Through much trial and error, Lady M’s pastry chefs have perfected their craft – the crepes can’t be too thin nor can the pastry/whipped crème be too heavy. (Read that: you can try making these at home, but why even attempt it?)
Lady M started around 2002 supplying NY’s endless array of higher-end bistros with their confections which continues to this day. But now their cake boutiques are the toast of the town – with shoppes in NYC, LA, Hong Kong and Singapore. Dhue’s fave – the Upper East Side location – looks like a virtual pastry case from the outside – airy, yet boxy and enclosed in glass.
“It’s a tiny little gem in an enormous, bustling city and a delightful respite from the hordes,” said Dhue. “I love its minimalist décor -- it's all white -- which is a perfect showcase for the other-worldly confections contained behind the glass.”
Sure, the shoppe features plenty of other offerings – éclairs and fruit tarts among them – but their calling card is the tantalizing, sky-high Mille Crêpes. (We did mention that’s trademarked, didn’t we? Whew.) The manager Monica suggested we try a salacious slab of their Green Tea Mille Crêpes. If the near-instantaneous sugar-rush doesn’t give you the jitters, their freshly-perked coffee and espresso will easily push you over the edge of perkiness.
How secretive are they about their recipes? Ten years ago when The New York Times attempted to pen an article, it took a slew of phone calls before a reporter was permitted to visit the production facilities. At that time, the company did not allow its pastry chefs to talk to the media. "We're not interested in them being personalities," said CEO Hideyuki Niwa in the 2005 article. When MyFavePlaces gently asked about when to expect a new recipe to be unveiled, Nakamura said, “We are not very friendly when it comes to recipes. Also, we do not unveil new cakes often.”
The team at Lady M are obviously wildly aware they’ve got a good thing going. The stores have been buzzworthy nearly from Day 1. “You mention Lady M to anyone and the reaction is usually ‘OHMYGOD, best cake I've ever had’ or ‘Oh, I've heard amazing things about that place ... can we go?’” gushed Dhue. “A friend brought an entire Green Tea Mille Crêpe cake to a Super Bowl party this past February and everyone went nuts. You know it's good when there's complete silence during the loudest sporting event of the year.”
And soon the Lady’s (the M’s??) will be expanding their decadent dessert empire -- including a pop-up location that just opened in Boston. “We are also planning to open new stores in Nomad and WTC in NYC,” said Nakamura. “The fourth boutique opened in Rockefeller Center in May.”
“Bottom line – you won’t be disappointed,” said Dhue. “It’s equally pleasurable when flying solo or with a friend. I even had a date there once and it was rather romantic.”
Pretty sweet, huh?
Lady M Cake Boutique: 41 E 78th St, New York, NY 10075