After taking my wife to the Fashion in Colors exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, we went to Payard for high tea on Saturday.
Danna, who is easily nonplussed, lit up when she saw where we were about to enter (this was a surprise day...something I like to do now and again).
The beautiful mahogany (?) doors open into a chocolate (or sweets in general for that matter) lovers paradise. The smell of sweet, buttery creations wasn't overpowering but just right.
We made our way through the chaotic and packed "showcase" room to the hostess stand that splits up the front and back rooms. We were seated at the corner table in the back left part of the dining room. This is probably the best seat in the house (if there are two of you) and would recommend asking for it if you make reservations prior to your visit.
The tall room with fanciful yellow hand-blown glass lamps with wrought iron "curves" looked like pschedelically shaped pumpkins that hang above in a droopy posture from its base. Something you might see at Moulin Rouge or in a Dali painting. Mini versions could be found as sconces above our table. The rest of the room was semi-transporting as well with comfortable seats and pillows of red and gold.
Danna and I both had a darjeeling that's first two cup fulls were great but terribly bitter toward the end (as is usual but perhaps moreso).
The food brought to us included:
Pretzel with salmon rillette and chive cream cheese
Vitello tonnato in ciabata
Mini mediterranean Pan Bagnat
All were very good. The tuna fish one might have been the crowd favorite. The salmon and turkey dish were also fine. The "pretzel" was just that...but of a very soft variety. The mayo on the pan bagnat was delicious.
and homeade confiture that we never received
The scones, unfortunately, were not warm...a pet peeve of both my wife and myself. They were still good though. The madeleines were also quite good. Chantilly creme is often too sweet for me...and this was no different. I prefer how the British serve this. As mentioned above...we never received the confiture or jam and didn't know to ask. We found out about it later.
Mini lemon tart
Mini pistachio tart
Mini 11 layer hazelnut square
Mini 7 layer Opera
Mini blueberry tart
Mini chocolate eclair
Everything was very good...my favorite going to the lemon and pistachio tarts followed closely by the hazelnut square. Danna had the eclair so can't attest to that...but I must say that the blueberries were very pronounced in their fruitiness...much more than I expected for this time of the year. Very good.
This was a fun trip and am very glad we did it. However, I find that the pastries, both the ones we had and the ones behind the counter, paled in comparison to those at Financier. Which really surprised me. The madelines, tarts and hazelnut items taste better at Financier and items like the Opera (full size), Paris Brest, buche de noel and others are prettier at Financier.
I'd be interested to hear how others compare the two.