Payard, a New York bistro and patisserie made famous by the hit TV series “Sex and the City,’” has opened a branch at the Shinsegae Main Store, downtown Seoul. Its menu includes, clockwise from top left, Brie and eggplant sandwiches; baked cheese souffle; linguine pasta; and desserts such as Napoleon. / Korea Times Photos by Cathy Rose A. Garcia
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
For most people, Payard may not ring a bell. But for fans of ``Sex and the City,'' Payard is the place where Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte always meet up, chat about their love lives and indulge in what Carrie called the ``best desserts in New York.''
Fans don't need to fly all the way to New York City to visit Payard Bistro and Patisserie and taste its renowned desserts. Payard recently opened its first branch here at the sixth floor of the Shinsegae Main Store in downtown Seoul.
In New York, Payard is considered a ``must-stop for anyone who wants an elegant dining experience,'' whether its for coffee, brunch or dinner.
With such high expectations, we trooped off to Payard to see if the Seoul branch lives up to the reputation of the New York original.
Payard's menu in Seoul features hot and cold sandwiches, panini, soups, souffles, salads and pizza. It looks tempting enough, until you glance at the prices (which exclude the 10 percent value-added tax). Sandwiches start at 9,000 won, while soups and salads start at 12,000 won. An entree like the sea bass Provencal is 32,000 won, while a cup of cafe Americano is 7,000 won.
We ordered the brie and grilled eggplant sandwich (12,000 won), baked cheese souffle (12,000 won) and linguine pasta (18,000 won).
When the dishes arrived, we were surprised at how small the sandwich was. Taste-wise, the sandwich was good. The brie melted perfectly with the eggplant, while the sun-dried tomatoes and basil-garlic mayonnaise added flavor.
The baked cheese souffle was the highlight of the meal. The rich and creamy souffle was floating in a pool of Parmesan cream sauce and white truffle oil. No wonder the souffle is considered one of the house specialties.
The linguine pasta has a rich flavor, with the tomatoes, basil, zucchini and tuna cubes, although it was somewhat oily.
Since Payard is renowned for its exquisite pastries and cakes (as seen in many episodes of ``Sex and the City''), you can't leave without trying one of the tempting treats.
Basing our decision on which pastries looked the most delectable at the glass counter, we chose the Napoleon, Sweet Relief and Louvre.
Chocolate lovers will definitely enjoy the Louvre, a decadent chocolate-covered dome cake. Sweet Relief is a delightful mango mousse, covered with a fluffy marshmallow-like topping. Napoleon is a light and sweet dessert, with generous dollops of egg cream in between thin layers of crispy puff pastry.
Service was excellent, but overall, Payard seems a bit overrated and lacks ambiance.
Our verdict on Payard: skip the sandwiches and pasta. Just drop by for the desserts, which are guaranteed to satisfy sweet-toothed cravings.
For reservations, call (02) 310-1980.