Payard: Among the offerings from the patisserie.
Best French Pastries
Payard Patisserie & Bistro
1032 Lexington Avenue near 73rd Street
When it came to classic French bakers in New York, there was Maurice Bonté, and there was everyone else. Swells from all over dispatched the help to pick up his Technicolor fruit tarts and whimsically beribboned birthday cakes. Today, Payard, uptown, and Balthazar, down, fill the void left since Bonté shuttered in 1999. Raspberry purée nestled between passion-fruit custard and a sweet, buttery pastry shell ($4.75) is just one of François Payard's daily offerings, which include a classic napoleon ($3.75), and an eye-filling assortment of exquisitely executed fruit tarts ($4.50): You will never mistake a strawberry for cardboard here.
80 Spring Street
At Balthazar Bakery, we particularly love the mocha opera slice ($5).