THE PASTRY PLACE

Byline: Alexandra Bellak

If Francois Payard had his way, New Yorkers would eat pastries for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Payard, an award-winning pastry chef, and chef/owner Daniel Boulud of the renowned restaurant Daniel have joined culinary forces to open Payard at 1032 Lexington Avenue, between 73rd and 74th Streets.
Payard, a third-generation patissier from France who has demonstrated his abilities at such tony restaurants as La Tour d’Argent in Paris and Daniel here, brings a new concept in dining out: a combination patisserie and bistro.
“Francois wanted a true bistro that also incorporated a patisserie, where people could come, have a good meal in a casual, relaxed setting and take something home when they left,” said Alexandra Payard, his wife and the maitre d’hotel at the restaurant.
Restaurant architect David Rockwell created a mood incorporating a true European ambience. The large space gave Rockwell a lot to work with, allowing room for a pastry shop and coffee/liquor bar in the front and bilevel dining area in the rear. To capture the bistro feeling, Rockwell used Belle Epoque gilded mirrors, blown-glass lighting fixtures and colorful banquettes. In the front, a mosaic floor with designs of cookies and ceiling friezes featuring croissants accent the pastry motif.
Chef Philippe Bertineau, formerly of Daniel, oversees the kitchen and brings his native southwestern French tastes to the menu. Known for his terrine of homemade fois gras, other favorites include potato tatin layered with brie as an appetizer and caramelized sweetbreads as an entree. Always keeping with the bistro fare, other highlights include a lamb shank with eggplant and artichokes and a New York sirloin steak in a peppercorn sauce with french fries.
Finally, an array of tempting pastries fills cherrywood-framed cases. From seasonal tarts and tea cakes to petits fours and classic ice creams, customers are never at a loss for sweet treats. The Manhattan Tower, Payard’s specialty, stands seven inches high and consists of a creme brulee center surrounded by dark chocolate whipped cream, mousse and hazelnut creme. It can be made to order.
Open just since Aug. 27, Payard is already attracting neighborhood regulars.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of the same faces, many who we have come to know by name and who stop in for a coffee and cake and stay for hours,” said Alexandra Payard. She said the restaurant rang up 800 sales on one fall Saturday alone.
Prices range from $7 to $12 for appetizers, $16 to $24 for entrees and $7 to $9 for desserts. A prix-fixe lunch including entree and dessert is $18 and a brunch menu is available.
The bakery is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. The bistro is open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner from noon to 11 p.m.