Xue Ling, the owner of the brand new LROOM Cafe near Union Square, didn’t set out to be a restaurateur. A graduate of Parsons who did a stint in the fashion world, Ling found her passion in floral design, launching the high-end online flower boutique, LROOM, in 2015. But when it came time to open a floral brick-and-mortar, Ling expanded her vision to include a menu of botanically-inspired pastries and beverages, bringing “a kingdom of flowers and delicacies” to an otherwise unlovely stretch of West 14th Street.
To complete this "exquisite life aesthetic experience," Ling partnered with pastry chef Carla Di Virgilio, who has created about a half dozen elaborate desserts for the cafe. There’s the Lemon, which looks just like a lemon, but is actually a chocolate-covered cake (the "rind" is white chocolate dyed yellow) with a zesty, gooey core. Di Virgilio's Peach employs the same sort of structure and trickery, as does her Rose, a four-layer mousse cake. There’s a 72-hour process to make each of these, so only a limited number are available each day. There's also a Honey Toast filled with fruit and ice cream that arrives under a cotton candy cloud, and a couple of extremely photogenic Egg Waffle concoctions.
The drinks are just as lovely and complex. The almost-gelatinous Pomme Lychee Ade is thick with fruit and floral accents, and for the Lavender Peach Ade you need to pour one ingredient into the other and watch it beautifully come together. The Lab Iced Coffee is equally interactive.
The entire space is filled with flowers and a pink hue. Ling has many of her floral designs and bouquets on display, which you can order, or, if available, bring home on the same visit.
This is a table-service restaurant, with seating for about 50. And if you just want to grab a coffee and a pastry and be on your way, the barista at the counter up front will happily help you.
Doin' it for the gram. (Scott Lynch / Gothamist)
LROOM Cafe is located at 41 West 14th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., on Thursdays and Fridays until 10 p.m., on Saturdays from noon to 10 p.m., and on Sundays from noon until 9 p.m. CLOSED MONDAYS. (lroomcafe.com)