I had high hopes for the LRoom Cafe when I decided to stop by after seeing their shimmering gold coffee plastered all over my Instagram feed. Located on 41 W. 14th St., the face of the building is almost purely glass, giving it an open and welcoming atmosphere. As soon as I stepped in I was greeted by outreaching hands molded from concrete and dozens of red and gold roses attached to the wall near the entrance. The restaurant was covered in boutique inspired items, from the decor to the menu. However, my floral fantasy was based on an illusion, as I would soon discover.
The place where the cashier was set up was white — the area was open and bright. However, as I walked towards the seating in the back of the restaurant, the ambiance grew darker. The walls, the floor and the tables were all grey, making the restaurant feel like a basement cellar accented by a few bright pink chairs and blinking neon signs.
Unfortunately, I ended up paying $14 for a palm-sized, rose-shaped (albeit beautifully crafted) cake. I also bought the “Bling Bling Coffee” for $7.50 which the menu pictured as a golden latte, one of the most popular items on Instagram.
The rose cake was absolutely appealing. It had an ombre shade of pink running from the top of the carefully crafted petals to the bottom just above the cake. It also glistened with condensation, as if it had just been taken out of a freezer.
As a disclaimer, I did not use a professional camera to take my photos. However, I did use my iPhone X — acclaimed for having a decently good camera — to try to emulate the glamorous shots of glittering coffee and edible flowers that had initially inspired me to go.
My expectations were far from reality. Despite being known for its Instagrammable shots and aesthetic angles, the lighting was not optimal for photos. No light reflected off the walls except from the neon signs and thin strips of lighting hanging from the ceiling. In addition, the cake was served on an unappealing plastic plate that shared an uncanny similarity with the ones found by the mediocre dessert booth in Downstein. Needless to say, I was disappointed by the results and my inability to capture the photogenic food.
The rose cake was layered by a mousse with a raspberry filling balanced on an almond dacquoise base. The mousse was sweet, creamy and light. However, the cake itself was much too dense and crumbly, partly because of being frozen and also due to being a dense batter that overpowered the mousse. I also found it interesting that the filling was raspberry as opposed to a more fitting rose-infused flavor to match the presentation. I ate the rest out of an obligation to my wallet — $14 could buy me a full meal anywhere else.
The coffee was served next. The layer of foam that lined the top of the latte wobbled and the gold glitter swirled into a leaf shape shimmered as the waitress put it down in front of me. But save the appearance, I was underwhelmed. The coffee was much too sweet and tasted more like milk tea than a latte. The glitter particles gave it a grainy texture and I was left with a nice golden ring around my lips.
At LRoom Cafe, the expression “too pretty to eat” rings true, but when it comes to their rose cake and golden latte, the hesitation to finish my meal wasn’t induced by merely their aesthetic. Much like the building’s exterior, the cake and coffee were perfectly presented. But once I took a sip or made a cut, I realized that much of the excitement surrounding the items and the atmosphere was built on an unsubstantiated facade.
Email Arin Garland at [email protected]