Thursday, October 29, 2009

Payard Patisserie (Las Vegas)

Payard PatisserieI went to Las Vegas last week to attend a trade show, but I made sure to set aside time to visit the Las Vegas Strip and some of the fine chocolatiers there.

Payard Patisserie was at the top of my list. Started by French pastry chef Fran?ois Payard, he grew up immersed in confectionery and pastry from an early age in his grandfather’s shop. Since the New York City Payard shop closed, the Caesar’s Palace location is the only place to get the full Payard experience in the US. (There are shops in Japan and Korea.)

Payard PatisserieI had a tough time finding the shop, as it’s tucked in the immense Caesar’s Palace maze of casinos and restaurants. The Payard website is no help, as it doesn’t even say where it is in Las Vegas, and the Caesar’s website is equally vague. So I just wandered, starting at the main entrance and winding my way through the labyrinth. Once I did find it, it pretty much stopped me dead in my tracks. The curving facade in rich brown hues, the ornate light fixtures, the long glass counter filled with pastries & treats and the sheer size of it are quite breathtaking.

It is a full French bistro with soups, sandwiches and crepes but the displays definitely focus on the decadent desserts, confections and chocolates.

Payard ChocolateLuckily I’d briefed myself on their website before going, so I knew what I wanted to pick up, what I wanted to see in person. Of course I also go to most shops with an open sense of exploration - I’m ready to be enchanted and sucked into it all.

I picked up one dessert and a one half pound ballotin which seemed to highlight most of their chocolates well. (I briefly considered their Bergamot Truffle Perfume as well, but realized, I like to eat chocolate, not smell like it.)

The dessert was a decadent piece, mostly a firm chocolate mousse with a core that featured a hazelnut nougatine. It was much larger than I think one person needs to eat, but for only $8.00 it actually felt like a good value for Las Vegas (and upscale chocolate in general). The chocolate was deep and rich, the heavy cream was evident and the texture, besides the crispies mixed in the center, was velvety smooth. Considering all the walking I did (about three miles just that night), I didn’t feel at all guilty about eating it.

The location is not right off any casino floor, so it’s quite quiet and would likely be a great spot to sit and enjoy a coffee drink and sweet. It’s not quite a sidewalk cafe, as it is actually inside and there’s something about carpeting that can really suck the bustle out of a crowd.

Payard Chocolate BallotinThe Half Pound Ballotin features about 25 pieces of chocolate, and from the website sounded like a good variety of items. Also, at $28 for the box I was actually convinced it was a good deal. It’s like a little brick, about 4.5 inches long and 2.5 inches high but of course weighing a little over 8 ounces with packaging.

The box is actually crammed full of chocolate. It’s in three layers, each separated only with a bit of waxed/corrugated paper. There are no goofy preformed trays or fluted paper cups. Just a box of chocolates.

There was also no guide, though when I asked at the counter when I purchased it, I was told there was one in there. So I have to simply guess at a lot of these. The chocolate did pretty well. Though it was in the 80s during the day in Las Vegas, I kept the box in my hotel in an insulated cooler, just in case the air conditioner (set on 76F when I was out) didn’t kick in.

Payard Mendiants

Mendiant Noir - Dark chocolate wheel, topped with dried fruits and nuts

I love mendiants simply because they show their cards. It’s a disk of chocolate with some fruit or nut stuck in it. They’re like elegant chocolate bark in easy to eat pieces.

As you might be able to tell, I got two pieces in my box, one white and one dark. The white one had pistachio, almond and yellow raisin. The white chocolate was smooth but sweet, the nuts set it off well. My dark chocolate piece had hazelnut, almond, yellow raisin and walnut. So I broke off the piece with the walnut in it and ate the rest. The dark chocolate was velvety smooth and the hazelnut took center stage as the predominant flavor and texture with a little chewy raisin with some wine notes towards the end.

Also in the box were two orangettes - generous strips of candied orange peel covered in dark chocolate. They were soft and chewy and not overly sweet.

Payard Chocolates

Each of the chocolates in the box are rather small. They’re one inch square and about 1/3 of an inch high.

Chagall - Milk chocolate wafer with praline covered in dark chocolate

This little piece was delightful. The center is a praline, which is a bit of crispy wafers all smashed into teensy bits (think of the wafer of an ice cream cone or a Pirouline stick). It has it’s own toasted flavor and of course a bright and satisfying crunch. It’s mixed in with a milk chocolate paste with a slight sugary grain to it. The dark chocolate keeps it from being to sickly sweet, as does the minute portion.

I was surprised that the Payard name was on this one in particular, I would have assumed it would be a plain or classic ganache version.

Payard Chocolates

Degas - Dark and milk chocolate ganache with coffee beans covered in dark chocolate

This one was easy to pick out of the mix since it said cafe on the top. The flavor was quite mellow and thankfully the coffee was fully integrated and there was no hint of graininess or chewy fibery bits.

Monet - Milk chocolate and cinnamon ganache covered in dark chocolate

This piece has a textured top, kind of like the chocolate version of a 70s hologram sticker. The scent is quite cinnamony, so I was able to assign this one to its name rather easily.  The ganache center is lighter and sweeter than some of the others without as much chocolate richness.

Palet d’Or - Vanilla rum ganache covered with dark chocolate, finished with gold decoration

If I didn’t know there was a vanilla rum ganache bonbon in this mix, I wouldn’t have been able to peg this one. It tasted like a rich, dark chocolate truffle. I didn’t get the buttery hints of molasses or alcohol from it, but it sure tasted like rich chocolate. One of the pair that I had was a little grainy.

Gauguin - Milk chocolate ganache, flavored with Kirsh and Grand Marnier covered in dark chocolate

I enjoyed the light touch of orange essence in this bonbon, it was a well rounded flavor without overpowering the chocolate notes. I got a slight bit of grain to it around the edges, but also a bit of zest, so I didn’t know if there was actual candied orange peels in it.

Payard Pistachio Chocolates

Van Gogh - Pistachio almond paste covered in dark chocolate

This one was in the top layer and I was a little scared when I saw that they were a tad bloomed. Luckily they were an isolated incident. The chocolates are a pistachio green innard that tastes distinctly of pistachio - that fragrant and grassy flavor. The texture is marzipan but also a bit of a grain from sugar (or it had crystallized). I wasn’t that fond of these pieces.

Payard Chocolates

Bonnard - Milk chocolate ganache and caramel covered in dark chocolate

I believe this is the piece with the script P on it. The ganache is rich and buttery with a very slight velvety grain and a burnt sugar flavor. There was also a light bitter note towards the end.

Payard Chocolate

Picasso - Dark chocolate ganache infused with Earl Grey Tea

This beautiful piece was spot on perfection. The shell was nicely tempered, the center had an immediate blossom of bergamot when I bit into it. But instead of just being a citrus peel flavor, it was an actual black tea, the whole cup, if you will. The dark chocolate maintained its own flavors of dark berries and had a bitter woodsy note while the black tea flavors and tannins did their part. Silky smooth melt and refreshing dry finish.

Payard Chocolate Rocher Noir

Rocher Noir - Dark chocolate mixed with a crispy wafer

I was a bit surprised when I got to the bottom and found these. They look kind of prickly. The chocolate coating looked thin and cheap.

I was very wrong to judge these based on appearances.

The milk version is light and crispy with an insane buttery flavor & fattiness to it. The crispy wafer bits are those same dark toasted bits, but larger here than the other nougatine ganache. It’s a definite cereal taste. The chocolate isn’t really a note here, it’s more like a malty flavor.

In the noir (dark) version it looked like a coconut haystack. Instead it was the malty & crispy wafer bits with a mellow cocoa flavor. The decadence comes from a slick and sweet chocolate that holds it all together. It’s a bit cool on the tongue and is very satisfying.

Payard Chocolate

Finally, at the bottom with the rochers were the classic chocolate truffles. These little handformed spheres are darling.

Upon the first bite these were not plain dark chocolate. They’re boozy, but not stinging with alcohol. The significant notes are vanilla and tobacco with deep oak and cherry in there. They’re supposed to be Vanilla Rum, but they’re like pushing my face into a bag of pipe tobacco. Not unpleasant at all, but quite dense and difficult to tease out all the flavors and complexity.

For those looking for Payard in Caesar’s Palace, I recommend this map (which I found when I was trying to write this up). The bistro is located on the main level, just off Appian Way (where the statue of David is) and across from Rao’s restaurant.

I can’t vouch for the bistro food, but the desserts do look luscious and I was very happy with mine. I wish they offered the chocolates by the piece, but if you’re shopping for a gift, they’re definitely a great place to stop in and get something truly worthy of the Las Vegas prices. There’s obviously a lot of care and thought that goes into the creation of these bonbons. I also tried the Parisian Macarons, which was a little too brightly colored for my tastes (yes, I mean taste) but wonderfully scrumptious single bites. (I recommend eating those immediately, they do not keep more than 3 days.)

I would definitely visit again if I were in Las Vegas, though I don’t know if I would order from them online as I have a lot of options available locally. But it’s nice to know that option is available.

More photos of the shop here on Flickr.

UPDATE 10/29/2009: Payard may have a new Manhattan location soon called Francois Chocolate Bar at Mauboussin Jewelers on Madison Avenue. Opening November 4th. (NY Times DinersJournal.)

Name: Half Pound Ballotin
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Payard Patisserie
Place Purchased: Payard (Las Vegas)
Price: $28.00
Size: 8 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, Cookie, Nuts, United States, Chocolatier

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:24 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

Comments
  1. that mousse with that center oh my heavens.  lucky you!

    Comment by dawn on 10/29/09 at 12:02 pm #
  2. From what I have heard, dining in Las Vegas is rather inexpensive.  They want you to spend more money at the casinos.

    Comment by Johnny Carruthers on 10/30/09 at 7:00 am #
  3. Dear god, look at that mousse!  Did they scoop out a serving for you, or IS that your serving?  Either way…want.

    Comment by sairentohiru on 10/30/09 at 12:58 pm #
  4. Darling, I love your website. I had boxes of blood orange dots shipped to me here in China just because of your review. Your thoroughness and devotion has helped me enjoy chocolate more. You’re obviously a person who is attentive to details, observing tiny fluctuations in price and flavor, and taking such meticulous, perfect photographs.
    And so it is with no small amount of confusion that I ask, why don’t you proofread these articles before you post them? Missing words, improper apostrophes, repetitions of phrases and misspellings truly reduce the overall effect of your gorgeous blog. I know you do a great deal of work and it shows, but having a correctly edited manuscript is no small trifle to be so carelessly overlooked.
    I’m sure any of your coworkers or friends, or your husband would be delighted to provide a second pair of eyes to help you correct these mistakes, and it would be such an improvement.

    Comment by Iris on 11/01/09 at 3:26 am #
  5. NY Times announced today the new Manhattan Payard cafe at Mauboussin on Madison Avenue: “Fran?ois Chocolate Bar, with seating for about 25, is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 1 to 6 p.m. Sundays, 714 Madison Avenue (63rd Street), (212) 752-4300. Prices: $2 to $6.50 a serving.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/04/dining/04choc.html

    Lucky us here in NYC!

    Comment by CandyProfessor on 11/04/09 at 3:05 am #
  6. Haven’t been to Vegas in years but the next time I go this is on my list!

    Comment by Pam Walter on 11/05/09 at 2:53 am #
  7. I’m headed to Vegas very soon, and will definitely try to add this place to my list! The desserts sound tasty, and the atmosphere looks lovely.

    Comment by Debby on 11/19/09 at 8:58 am #

Name:

Email:
(not published)

Location:
(not published - please don't put your address in there)

URL:

Comments may be held for moderation to prevent spam and other violations of the Candy Blog Comment Policy

Submit the word you see below:


Remember me!

Get updates to comments on this post?

Next entry: Brach’s Peanut Butter and Caramel Pumpkins

Previous entry: Tropical Chewy Lemonhead & Friends




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT

FEEDS

CONTACT

  • .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
  • Here are some frequently asked questions emailed to me you might want to read first.

EMAIL DIGEST

    For a daily update of Candy Blog reviews, enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

CANDY RATINGS

TYPE

BRAND

COUNTRY

ARCHIVES

Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.

 

 

 

 

Facebook IconTwitter IconTumblr IconRSS Feed IconEmail Icon

COUNTDOWN.

Halloween Candy Season Ends

-56 days

Read previous coverage

 

 

Which seasonal candy selection do you prefer?

Choose one or more:

  •   Halloween
  •   Christmas
  •   Valentine's Day
  •   Easter

 

image

ON DECK

These candies will be reviewed shortly:

• Lindt Chocolate Cookie

• Hachez Braune Blatter (Chocolate Leaves)

• Dandelion Chocolate

• Trader Joe’s Holiday Roundup 2014

 

 

image