UPPER EAST SIDE — Sipping prosecco and slurping foie gras foam, food lovers and friends of renknown chef Francois Payard gathered in his soon-to-open patisserie Monday night, celebrating his return to the neighborhood after some three years.
Guests munched on Payard's signature macarons — including savory varieties with ingredients such as squid ink, olive tapenade, bleu cheese, and fig — at a party previewing the official opening on Oct. 29.
Attendees — which included fashion designer Tory Burch, Bond girl Carole Bouquet, and "Mr. Chocolate" Jacques Torres — also snacked on hors d'oeuvres such as steak frites sushi and sampled his chocolate collection.
The FP Patisserie, located at 1293 Third Ave, is slated to become the flagship for the Payard brand, according to the company.
Much of FB's atmosphere and offerings will be a nod to the original — and much-missed — Payard Patisserie & Bistro, formerly located at 73rd Street and Lexington Avenue.
That establishment, in operation more than a decade, shuttered in 2009 because of a rent dispute.
Though Payard had signed a lease for a corner space on Third Avenue at East 76th Street last year, the deal fell through, even after Payard had begun revamping the windows. However, he vowed to return to the neighborhood.
FP is made up of three areas: in the front, the patisserie offers Payard's pastries and chocolates. Toward the back of the space, a bar serves up beer, wine, and champagne. There is also a 32-seat Salón de Thé.
That eatery — which will serve up French brasserie staples such as croques and chicken salad — also includes several dishes brought back by popular demand from Payard Payard Patisserie & Bistro.
Breakfast and lunch menus will be offered, and the shop will close at 8 p.m, Payard reps said.
Payard told DNAinfo.com New York that the space moves forward his classic cuisine, but in a way that longtime fans of the chef would still find palatable.
"It's a new Payard. It's very different and very modern." he said. "Everybody waited so long for payard to come back, so we didn't want to shock them."
Asked to elaborate, Payard explained that the idea was to come back sightly different — with an orange stripe rather than his company's trademark "yellow stripe," he said.
For Payard, that translates into entirely redesigned product pacakging and state-of-the-art bakery display cases imported from Italy, which he described as the industry's best.
He also said that he is not scared by a little neighborly competition — Parisian Bakery Maison Kayser, which opened on Third Avenue at 74th and 75th Streets in August.
Henry Feiereisen, a neighborhood resident, said he fondly remembers Payard's former bistro.
Does he have high hopes for the new project?
"It depends on whether they have more tables here. I would like to see more tables. I'm looking for a cafe," said the patent agent. But "the food is very good. The pastries are always good."
Sisters Laura and Danielle Kosann, who run luxury lifestyle website The New Potato, gave Payard's latest project a thumb's up. They appreciated the aesthetic of the bar area.
"The design is awesome," said Danielle, 23. "It seems like more than a patisserie. You could have a drink or a cup of coffee."