François Chocolate Bar – Still In Preview Phase, Pretty Much
I read about a week ago from Grub Street about Payard re-opening and ogled at their dessert menu. I am a sucker for desserts and Payard’s is no exception. I was shocked when they did have to close their Lexington Avenue restaurant/café the past June or so and it’s about time for us Payard fans to rejoice and have his desserts and chocolates.
On the day of opening (yesterday, November 4th), I went there with Helen after work. I was curious and dying to have a good cup of hot chocolate since it was cold and I craved for a chocolate-y indulgence. When we entered Maboussin jewelry store on Madison Avenue, we were greeted both by the doorman and a woman who stayed in the back, I requested to go upstairs to the Chocolate Bar and she guided us to the posh and plush elevator that was lined in three sides, a beige quilted wall (maybe leather? I’m too scared to mar the surface) and on the side was a dark wooden table filled with a tray of delicate perfumes, the jewelry store’s hardcover book and a mirror that’s right above it.
Once we exited the elevator, we’re greeted by a woman who works for the Chocolate Bar and I’ve asked about their verrines and she took us over to the display case.
After I’m done with my photo-taking, I’ve asked if we could have a verrine. They would like to but they can’t. The reason why is because they’re still waiting for the permit to sell their goods. So, as a way to make up for our time they comped us with a (generous) sampling of white hot chocolate with red berries and hibiscus flowers. Though I’m not a big fan of white chocolate (I personally just use it for cake or pastry decorations rather than ingesting it), this isn’t bad. As one might expect, white chocolate is sweet but the tart, luscious red berries and hibiscus flower tones down the sweetness a bit. This is something Helen enjoyed more than I have since it’s sweeter than I’d personally like.
After drinking up the tasty white hot chocolate, I’ve asked the staff as to when they’ll be selling their verrines and they’re hoping by tomorrow…
Determined to go back, I persuaded my co-worker Liz (not much persuasion needed since she’s a chocoholic) to accompany me to the Chocolate Bar again today in hopes to get my hands on the verrines. Since it’s a short walk from our office, it’s not a big deal. To the jewelry store and up the posh elevator we went and we walked into the empty café. I met the same young man who gave me the white hot chocolate from last night. He remembered me and I asked him the same question again, “May we have a verrine?” He said they’re still waiting for the permit to arrive but he let us each have a verrine. How kind of him.
Then he let us have another (for my case) generous sampling of their milk hot chocolate with Sichuan peppercorn and cinnamon. I love the floral, gently spicy aroma of this hot chocolate. It’s barely spicy and it’s quite chunky and viscous like drinking thick hot chocolate but there’s a milk/spice layer that floats on top that made it a bit off, texturally. In other words, if you’re looking for a real spicy kick in your hot chocolate, this ain’t it.
Liz and I started on the Verrine de Fruit Rouges made of layers of dark chocolate mousse , black sacher biscuit, cranberry and raspberry balsamic compote, white chocolate mousse and dark chocolate glaze. Sounds divine. The pipette that’s sticking out of this verrine holds the balsamic vinegar/compote. The other gentleman who works there explained to us that you can add as much or as little vinegar as you’d like into your verrine, even though there’s a bit of balsamic infused in the layers of mousse. This verrine was very good. Delicately sweet with a touch of tartness from the berries all surrounded by the cloud-like mousses.
Moving onto the Verrines du Japonais, it contained layers of hazelnut dacquoise, milk chocolate mousse, yuzu citrus crémeux, milk chocolate chantilly and dark chocolate glaze. It was a favorite of the employee who served us. I honestly have to say this verrine blew me out of the water. It’s rich and decadent without being dense and overwhelmingly chocolate-y even though pretty much everything I’m eating is chocolate based. There’s raspberry jam and yuzu-infused cake in the middle of the terrine that brightens up the entire flavor profile made it really interesting. The tartness of the raspberries shined through with the yuzu mingling in the background of the milk chocolate mousse with a touch of crumbly hazelnut dacquoise. It’s pretty much an OMG moment.
Once we’re done eating those desserts, I felt completely full even though I went there on an empty stomach and hit a sugar coma. The staff comped our desserts and we thanked them profusely and promised to come back. I’m definitely coming back for their macarons. (If you read my blog long enough, I have an awful obsession with macarons.)
If you’re still wondering when are they really selling their goods? Hopefully tomorrow, November 6th. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
If you’d like to see all the photos I’ve taken within the two days I’ve visited there, click here.