There’s a new cake in town. Actually, it’s a whole boutique full of cake and it’s here to stay! Lady M, the glorious cake boutique with three locations in New York City opened in LA last August, quietly without much fanfare but with a line out the door. It seems word spread fast among cake connoisseurs.
Coming upon it by accident while taking my daughter, in from NYC, to AOC for lunch, my daughter informed me that although I was at the wrong valet parking spot for AOC, I might be at the right parking spot after all.
“Parking for AOC is half a block up, Mom, but if the Lady M on that valet sign is the same as the one in NY, we’re skipping lunch and going straight to dessert.”
“Hmmm , that good?”
“Seriously ridiculous.” (Her highest compliment).
Since we’re both over 21, I figured we we’re old enough to go straight to the good stuff.
“Yes, going to Lady M,” I answered the attendant, smiling , handing over my car keys, not knowing at that point I’d never want to leave.
The room is stark white with chrome and glass. It is clean, sparse, spare of anything that might detract from the beauty of the main event, the main event, clearly being the core of twelve (give or take a few) heavenly cakes. Subtlety is the name of the game here, subtle and sublime. These cakes are glorious in their simple and perfect beauty. It’s all white, off white, chocolate brown or one other color like green for the green tea and/or the red/pink of the strawberries. Just looking at the perfection of each of the layers in each of the cakes set my mouth watering. My teeth wanted to sink into and experience the multitudes of inner and divine layers they each possessed.
The cakes are a blend of Japanese pastry, French patisserie, and another element I’d have to call joy. In the Japanese sensitivity, the cakes are subtly sweetened so they never overpower any other flavor, but only serve to enhance. The butter, the sugar, the farm fresh egg whites are blended by a master Japanese Pastry Chef and her staff of ten expertly trained bakers.
The French Mille Crêpes or 1000 layer cake, with its layer upon layer of silk thin pasty rounds sandwiched between cream and fruit and other goodies, is the prototype for the cakes and are named accordingly. Choosing from the basic Mille Crepes, all the way down the line to the Green Tea cake, the chocolate and white checker board cake called Checkers with its ultra thin ganache so shiny you hate to fork into it, the Strawberry Shortcake, or the Coffee Mouse cake, (which will be my next reward and gift to self) one can’t go wrong. Everyone is in heaven from the first bite. The cakes with glorious packaging are also that perfect Japanese size, always smaller, possessing beauty, humility and stylish understatement. Good lessons for all, brought to you by a cake.
Visit the website www.LadyM.com and look at these delicate little darlings and read all of their names. Vouching for the Mille Feuille, the Strawberry Shortcake, the Green Tea Crepes and the Gluten free Mille Crepes (yes I swear and sooo good), I can only say: amazing, melt-in-your-mouth, so-light-you-just-want-to-eat-it-all-day delicious. Or as my FD (foodie daughter) would say, “seriously ridiculous.”
Owner Ken Romaniszyn, one of the original investors in the Lady M concept, took over the business eight years ago, expanding on the mother ship at tony 78th and Madison and following it up with a new Lady M at the Plaza Hotel and then the Lady M Café in Bryant Park. New Yorkers come in droves to get respite from all things hurried, aka “city living”, to sit with a cup of tea or coffee and a slice of cake. Who knew that this beautiful mixture of Japan meets Paris served up clean and lean, was just the pleasure that New Yorkers yearned for or what laid back LA was missing! Ken, a veteran of a restaurant family (The Wasabi Bistro, Hawaii) it seems did.
Raised in Orange County California, famous for surfers, Republicans, and the pulp TV show “The OC”, by a Japanese mother and Caucasian father, he was educated at UCLA, received a business degree from Harvard, and is a kind of hybrid who may have just discovered the key to a happy life. “Let them eat cake” is his motto and mission statement.
Sitting across from him in his LA shop recently, he in jeans and a gray Harvard tee shirt , with close cropped hair, and that great Caucasian/Asian blend of a face, I listen to him talk about his life in Japan, Hong Kong and New York and I find myself being charmed and grateful for this man. An antidote to the stresses of the world with his love of cake, he has hit mankind’s sweet spot. This guy, Ken the Cakeman, is one happy dude. He calls his a “happy business.” “You have to work hard to make people unhappy with cake” he says and if that’s the case he is a lazy lout. Lady M’s cakes put a smile on everyone’s face, which is why people drive in from miles and miles, coolers in cars, to get them.
The cakes can be ordered online or called in and ordered by phone and picked up. Or better yet, one can go to Lady M and have a special time with a friend or alone and take a moment to hit the pause button and savor an exquisite experience sure to heal the mind, body and soul.
Ken Romaniszyn says he often thinks about some of his business school
buddies who push numbers around all day, how intangible that is to him, and how happy it makes him seeing the smile people get after biting into one of his cakes. Good Guy. And his message to the world: forget smelling the roses, slow down and taste the cake.
Let’s hear it for the new cake in town!
LOS ANGELES BOUTIQUE
8718 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
MAIN BOUTIQUE, NY
41 East 78th St
New York, NY 10021
Monday to Friday: 10am-7pm
THE PLAZA FOOD HALL, NY
One West 59th Street
New York, NY 10019
Monday to Saturday: 11am-8pm
BRYANT PARK BOUTIQUE, NY
36 West 40th Street
New York, NY 10018
Monday to Thursday: 8am-8pm
LA based Writer, Annie Stein, has written for C and More Magazines, NYTimes and is a regular blogger on Huffington Post. She runs creative writing workshops for at risk teens.