I found myself on the Upper East Side, killing time with the kids on one of those arduous, winter breaks in the city with nothing to do. What’s a girl to do when she’s feeling glum while everyone else is off skiing or sunning with their loved ones? Eat cake of course! It struck me like a ray of sunlight on a gray winter day. Off we went to Lady M.
Lady M is one of those dainty, elegant shops that are perfect to take a friend to for coffee and a little treat while catching up on a load of gossip. What I enjoy so much about it is that they take the classics and somehow reinvent them, striking the ideal point between enormous coffee shop monsters and overly dainty French confections. They are fun and interesting to look at while still being elegant. Plus, they are light as a feather in your mouth, even when they look like they will be quite filling. I was slightly disappointed to find the selection was full of chestnut cakes. Chestnut is one of the top offenders on my long and boring list of do-not-eat-or-spend-the-day-in-the-emergency-room allergy foods. But never the less, I persevered and managed to find four lovely slices without chestnut to take home.
Of course, we had to have their signature item, the Mille-Crêpe. It’s a cake made of about 20 layers of crêpes and 20 layers of cream in between. It is delicious, simple and seemingly weightless, with a slightly brûléed crispy crust on the top. Of course, it was also offered in what else, chestnut. We went with the plain vanilla. You can get it by the slice or order a whole cake. FYI, it’s easy to eat more than just one piece.
I was enamored by the look of the Checkers Cake and of course had to have some. Honestly, it looked a lot like the version you may recall seeing several years back during the commercials on late night tv when they were selling checkerboard cake pans. Alternating squares of white and chocolate cake in a checkerboard pattern covered with a thin layer of cream and then a chocolate glaze. It didn’t look fancy but one bite and I knew it was special, a cut above the rest. Somehow Lady M has managed to make their basic cake layers incredibly airy, and delicious all at the same time. You feel as if you are eating some sinfully low-cal version of birthday cake. The downside, of course, is that you could definitely eat another slice.
I was hoping they would have their Strawberry Millefeuille but had to settle for the Strawberry Shortcake. I am the kind of girl who is crazy enough to not care and eat strawberries even when they are terrible, smack in the middle of a winter blizzard. The ones on the shortcake were quite lovely and it felt like a breath of spring had settled over my overheated (why are my windows wide-open in the middle of winter?) NYC apartment. It was not my favorite but I would certainly eat it again.
My last choice was the Gâteau Nuage, a fancy version of sour cream cheesecake with a graham cracker crust. It was delicious and light, and a real pleasure. It is the opposite of the classic New York cheesecake you find at Lindys or Carnegie Deli. Those cream cheese bombs leave you a few pounds heavier per slice. The Lady M version is a definite must try. But of course, I wouldn’t mind if they would add some strawberries.
In case you missed it, I really like Lady M. It never disappoints and it takes the concept of a neighborhood bakery to a whole new level. Both the treats and the atmosphere are simple, elegant and light as air. Now if only I could lay my hands on their chocolate cake recipe.