This NYC Cafe Turns Food Trends Into Art
LRoom is begging to be on Instagram, but the food is actually incredible
If you’re not already doing this, I encourage you to look around the next time you’re at a restaurant dedicated to trendy, beautiful food. Guests snap photo after photo of their gorgeous meals, adjusting the plates and flatware as deftly as any professional stylist. Fifteen minutes later, they may still be taking photos, but the food remains mostly untouched. This is not the case at LRoom Cafe, a new eatery in Manhattan.
Founded by floral designer Xue Ling, LRoom is a flower-themed dessert and coffee shop. The brick and mortar location of Ling’s online floral service, the physical LRoom is doing a lot more than arranging flowers. The designers of the space paid seriously close attention to current trends and managed to execute a product that, unlike so many eateries these days, isn’t heavy-handed.
Yes, there is neon art on the walls, one of which is three lines of “need rosé.” Yes, the chairs are millennial pink. Yes, the food is deeply Instagrammable. But after a visit, I was shocked to find the space charming, the overall vibe quite relaxed, and the staff excited and knowledgeable about the food and drinks.
Speaking of the food and drinks... they’ll look great on social media, we’ve already established that. But after ooh-ing and ah-ing over a glitter latte (of course they have the glitter latte) and debating purchase of the $22 Shibuya honey toast (it comes with a cloud of pink cotton candy), I noticed how much care was placed on the development of LRoom’s pastry program.
Carla Di Virgilio is LRoom’s pastry chef, and she’s developed six masterful desserts for the menu, my favorites being “the Lemon” and “the Peach.” The names are simple, but the pastries are not. Reminiscent of Empellon’s avocado dessert, the dishes look nearly identical to actual pieces of fruit, but after breaking through their colorful white chocolate skin, the real surprise is revealed: lemongrass-cardamom mousse with meyer lemon marmalade, and almond ganache with peach jelly cubes respectively. Having been to many a trendy cafe, I was impressed by the look of the pastries, but not expecting much flavor-wise. I was wrong. The treats were delicate but supremely tasty, the almond and peach especially lovely. Di Virgilio made sure to tell me that the dishes work best when all layers are eaten at once, with the slight crunch of the white chocolate balancing the chunky jellies and oozing mousses and creams. The iced coffee came in a chemistry beaker—though I’m not an expert in horticulture, I wasn’t quite sure what this had to do with floral design, and couldn’t help but wonder for a moment if I was back in the Breaking Bad cafe. But I have to admit, I always enjoy pouring things from beakers.
So it really is possible to cater to the trends of the day without sacrificing flavor integrity. I only hope more restaurants will follow LRoom’s example.