We celebrated the holidays with family at Payard Payard NY. Named after famed French pastry Chef Francois Payard, the restaurant is notable for dessert. Reservations, however, are reserved (pun, sorry) for those who eat non-dessert food. Kasi and Stephen gave a super generous gift certificate to Payard for my birthday, so we decided to share it with family.

I will summarize the experience for those who don’t want to read all of my complaining: don’t go to Payard, at least not for non-pastry food.

The menu announces the Chef du Cuisine is Philippe Bertineau, born in a rural area in Western France. There are some classic French dishes on the menu and it sounds pretty good, but the overall experience is BAD.

warm crab on quinoa cake

We shared a salad of Warm Crab on a Smoked Quinoa Galette with Oakwood Shiitake, Chives and Frisée Wild Mushroom Broth. The nice part of this dish was that it was very earthy, the mushrooms provided a robust flavor. However, they completely overpowered the lightly flavored crab, which was mostly shredded, no good size pieces to at least provide crab texture. The quinoa galette looked attractive, but was rock hard (perhaps to withstand sitting in a broth?). It bothered me to eat the cardboard-like item. Jessica and her mom thought the mushrooms were wonderful though. I felt the dish was unbalanced.

lentil soup

I also had a Lentil Soup with Lardons and Croutons. This was by far the most enjoyable part of the meal. The ugly soup (a dark brown) was saturated with butter, making it luxurious. The heartiness of the lentils balanced the fat. The lardons were a welcome treat, as were the croutons. Both provided an alternate texture that worked so well. I ate every last drop of the perfect winter soup.

Hanger Steak

My mother-in-law had the Black Angus Hanger Steak with Homemade French Fries and Béarnaise Sauce. She enjoyed it and appreciated it being cooked perfectly. However, neither the steak nor the fries were correctly seasoned.


Three of us, including Jessica, had the Bouillabaisse with Chilean Sea Bass, Clams, Mussels and Calamari. Everyone found it too salty and not enjoyable, I don’t believe anyone finished it, and we’re good eaters! The seafood was mediocre, and Jessica suggested that the broth was closer to a curry texture, perhaps because of the potatoes, than bouillabaisse. The aioli it was served with was bland and the three tiny toast points were kind of a waste of time (why only three tiny pieces?).

Duck Risotto

I saved the worst for last: I ordered the Risotto with Duck Confit. The waiter made a weird comment when I placed the order and had I been more clever, I’d have realized to change my order. First, it wasn’t risotto, it was just over-cooked rice. Second, if there was duck in there, it was turned into “duck dust”, which would be special at Il Bulli, but was annoying at Payard. Third, it had long strands of what I suspect was radicchio, but might have been purple cabbage. It looked more like cabbage, but was incredibly bitter like radicchio. Fourth, the whole shabang sat in a foamy pool of nastiness, I don’t know what it was. I ate 3-4 bites of my dish and pushed it aside. Yuck! Bertineau should be ashamed of himself.

At the end of our meal, we selected five interesting sounding pastries and waited for them to arrive. Did I mention that the service at Payard is incredibly slow? It is, horribly slow. And they kept bumping into my chair. Also, did I mention that we could only select from about half their normal pastry menu, because they were out of so many items? On a Sunday brunch… um, do they not understand how unacceptable that is? Now Payard should be ashamed of himself.

Beaux Arts

Anyway, the pastries arrived and they were beautiful. Classic French patisserie fare. It seemed the Beaux-Arts was our winner, by a narrow margin. It was a mousse-like cake with Cassis flavor, with Passion Fruit Cream and Sablé Breton and Raspberry Coulis, and decorated with macarons. It was fruity, tangy, and delicious.


My favorite, also the waiter’s selection, was the Piémont, Hazelnut Cream with Roasted Hazelnuts, Milk Chocolate Gianduja Mousse, Caramel Glaze and Fleur de Sel. It’s perfect for those who like the salty sweet combination.

Other items we had and enjoyed equally included: Louvre, a Chocolate Mousse, Hazelnut Mousse, Hazelnut Dacquoise and Hazelnut Wafer;

Hazelnut Napolean

Bergamote, an Earl Grey Tea Chocolate Mousse layered with Cherry Pain de Gênes and Red Berry Gelée; and the Hazelnut Napoleon, a Flaky Puff Pastry layered with Hazelnut Cream and Crispy Wafer.

During dessert I noticed that the tables didn’t match the rest of the restaurant decor. The restaurant is quite attractive, except the tables look run down and nasty and seem to belong in an old Jewish deli more than in an upscale French patisserie.

Payard Chocolates

We took home a 1/4 lb. Ballotin box with a mix of chocolate treats. We enjoyed most of them but they weren’t memorable.

So, to summarize, if it’s not already incredibly obvious, don’t waste your time eating at Payard, except perhaps desserts. And while their desserts are good, they don’t even have them all on hand regularly; plus they don’t seem to take reservations for just dessert. It came out to a whopping $307 (including tax and tip) for 6 people, which is way too much money for hit or miss food.

posted by Lon at 09:52 PM Filed under Products, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.