John Curtas is …

KNPR

PAYARD Perfection

Payard Bistro and Patisserie

Caesars Palace

702.731.7292

The most common questions I get asked about this second job of mine as a world famous restaurant critic are: how does one become a restaurant critic? How many times a week do you eat out? And finally: why aren’t you the size of sperm whale? Well the answers are: It’s a long story, 10 times a week, and I have the metabolism of a hummingbird. I’m hardly svelte, but I like to say I’m not as fat as I could be nor as thin as I should be, and one of the ways I keep from looking like a building with feet is by avoiding (or at least minimizing) my intake of sweets, pastries, cakes and desserts. And that was pretty easy for me, until Francois Payard came to town.

Click here to listen to my current review of Payard Patisserie and Bistro.

Because one of the first things The Food Gal and I do whenever we travel to New York, is to hop a cab to Lexington Avenue on the upper East Side, and immediately tuck ourselves into a tiny table at Payard’s for a generous sampling of superlative pastries. We’ve done this for years, because for years it’s pretty well been acknowledged that Payard is the best pastry chef in America. And as long as he stayed in New York, I could indulge myself with his croissants, pain du chocolat, madeleines, financiers, macaroons or whatever tasty cakes struck my fancy. …because I was only there for a few days and could go nuts without serious waistline consequences. The Food Gal of course never has this problem, because she’s never hungry for the stuff like I am, preferring instead to pick off my plate….which just means that I have to order twice as much.

Unfortunately, for the past 8 months or so, I’ve become vexed, tortured, tempted and tormented, ever since Payard diabolically moved into Caesars Palace and brought all of his French delicacies with him. He even went so far as to hire Gregory Gorreau, the immensely talented pastry chef from MIX, to be his Executive Chef, to further plague and confound my best laid dietary plans.

WORST of all, they decided to open a charming bistro along side their pastry shop….that provokes me morning, noon and night with the best omelette in town, the best quiche in town, the best croque monsieur in town, and a chocolate nutella banana crepe that will make you weep. They also do a pretty spectacular hamburger, and the eggs benedict are nothing to shake a baguette at either. And when you’re done swooning over all of those, there are those pastries and chocolates in the shop next door, calling to you like a siren song of forbidden delights.

Lash me to the mast please! It’s just not right I tell you!…..The best breakfast in town, a stunning lunch and dinner, and the best sweets and baked goods on this side of the Atlantic….something needs to be done about that perfidious Payard, and his henchman Gorreau….because they constantly remind me that I can resist anything except temptation.


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