Thomas Burak with an amazing assortment of birthday goodies - yum!
I am still reeling from my trip to New York. A good portion of my time revolved around birthday cakes, food, friends and lots wine—all of which are just fine by me.
Payard Patisserie & Bistro, an Upper East Side institution, was a recurring theme over the weekend. Their Louvre Cake, a chocolate mousse, hazelnut mousse, hazelnut dacquoise and hazelnut wafer concoction, made its way onto the tray of birthday desserts Thursday night. Then on Saturday I met up with James Andrew and we wined and dined our way across the city. First for lunch at Payard, followed by dinner at Union Prime.
This was my first time to dine at Payard and I was not disappointed. Once you enter you find yourself in a fabulous French pastry shop filled with petits fours, fruit tarts and ruffled cakes. Once you move toward the bistro, the atmosphere feels very much like a turn-of-the-century grand cafe, complete with banquettes and high ceilings. The food was beyond delicious and I was equally impressed with the beautiful presentation.
I started with their chilled green asparagus soup with croutons and thyme cream (amazing), but could have easily devoured James' twice baked upside down cheese souffle with light Parmesan cream sauce and white truffle oil (unbelievable).
One might think that I would tire of seafood now that I live in Scotland, but the truth is I just can't get enough, especially scallops. Just look at these beautiful little seared sea scallops with baby bok choy. Lunch was followed by a melange of Payard's amazing desserts. By the end I felt as though I was in a sugar coma!
After a long walk and a good nap my husband and I meet James and his partner Scott McBee for dinner at Union Prime. Carleton Varney designed the new steak and sushi house for restaurateur Andrew Silverman. Inspired by the grande dame Dorothy Draper, the interior boast all the hallmarks of Draper’s historic work, including scrolling cartouches (designs that resemble the plasterwork Mrs. Draper famously used in New York's Hampshire House and the Greenbrier Hotel) and the blooming “Princess Grace” rose motif that has been magnified to grandiose proportions.
Being that we are all good friends, we decided that a sampling of appetizers would be the best way to try a little of everything. We started with raw oysters, a light fry of calamari with artichokes with fennel aioli (to die for), and yellowfin tuna tartare. For the main entrée I opted for pan seared jumbo sea scallops with cauliflower, apple puree and wild mushrooms –I know, I know, but the Seville orange and miso glazed Chilean sea bass with napa cabbage and sticky rice wasn’t available. And, the scallops were so succulent. Everything was cooked to perfection!
It was a fabulously fun evening, complete with outstanding service. Union Prime’s excellent sommelier, Doreen was most friendly and selected several nice bottles of wine for the table. If you love great food and the Dorothy Draper style then you must visit Union Prime. It was the perfect end to a perfect trip.
I have most enjoyed reading everyone's recount of last week including; Michelle Adams, James Andrew, Heather Clawson, Michael Devine, Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo, Tobi Fairley, Eddie Ross, Patricia van Essche, Vicente Wolf.
Payard 1032 Lexington Ave.; 212-717-5252
Union Prime 9 E. 16th St. (between 5th Ave. and Union Square West); 212-675-4700