[January 1998]
WHEN FRANCOIS PAYARD Pastry chef of Daniel Boulud's acclaimed Restaurant Daniel, yearned for a place of his own, Boulud partnered with him to open Payard's Patisserie and Bistro. They asked David Rockwell to envision an old-world environment that would bring a bit of Paris's Left Bank to uptown Lexington Avenue: a cozy, casual place open from morning until late evening, serving both Pastries and more substancial bistro food, "The challenge was to unify the bakery and bistro, and create a sense of progression from one space to the next while keeping it open and inviting," Rockwell says. "Since Francois comes from three generations of bakers in Nice, we also wanted to highlight the idea of old-world tradition, of culinary skills being handed down through a family, symbolized by the heirloom baking molds used to decorate the walls."
Customers enter through the patisserie doors, where a mosaic floor is whimsically inset with motifs of coffee cups, croissants, and baguettes. Here, custom glass and mahogany cases hold a tempting array of sweets. Creamy painted plaster walls and ceiling set off the wood and marble for a spacious, traditional effect. A
cluster of cafe cables surrounds the center column, which is mounted with a custom blown-glass lighting fixture inspired by chef's whisks.
A curving bar and paneled mahogany half-walls flank the open portal to the two-level bistro dining space just beyond, where round tables are set for lunch and dinner. The mezzanine with its open metal balustrade gives a good close-up glimpse of the amusing plaster ceiling frieze, wittily decorated with "classical" swags of wheat sheaves and upturned croissants. The shop opened for business last August. MFM
Above: Vintage baking pans hang above a tiled frieze over the cases where tempting confections are displayed.
Right: Distinctive custom blown glass lighting fixtures shaped like a chef's whisks mitigate the height of the ceiling and draw the eye from bakery to bistro.
Opposite: Mahogany paneled half-walls and a rounded bar define the open passage from bakery to dining area.
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