There are really only one or two bakeries in the city where the pastries in a refrigerated case can match a plated restaurant dessert. Payard is one of them. Around the holidays when friends come to NYC from out of town and ask me where to get a “really special” dessert the first thing I ask is whether they are willing to let me base a restaurant choice on that criteria. If they don’t have that level of dessert commitment, well, I ridicule them. Then, I pity them. And finally, I send them to one of the Payard locations to score a Verrine, George V or Louvre.
On Sunday I was on East Houston St., which to me is “in the neighborhood” of Francpis Payard Bakery” which is on West Houston near Sullivan St. I noticed in the case they now had smaller-than-normal opera cakes for $4.00. With spongecake, coffee buttercream, dark chocolate slabs, and a smooth dark chocolate layer on top, it was the perfect thing to warm up with on a blustery and cold day.
Recommended: opera cake
I agree with the recommendations of Kathy at Serious Eats NY who says to save room for the sweets when visiting FPB.
Go here for the Dessertbuzz interview with Francois Payard.
Francois Payard Bakery is located at 116 West Houston Street near Sullivan. Payard also has a location in the Plaza Hotel set up just for the holidays.