Have you ever tasted the perfect dessert? One that is so memorable you reminisce on it from time to time as you let out a deep sigh? Palais by Perfect Pie has that exact effect on diners.
Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, who previously held the title of White House Pastry Chef from 2007- 20014, opened his new restaurant in Manhattan this September. “Palais” serves both the savory and sweet in their East 61st restaurant, with entrees and desserts so exceptional, you will think you are dreaming while awake.
Yosses started his career in France working in many notable kitchens including La Maison du Chocolat. Later he went on to publish three books on desserts and was the recipient of the James Beard – “Who’s Who Award.” After opening in October, the cozy 75 seat restaurant rolls out fresh pastries and coffee-to-go, lunch, brunch, and dinner. In the future, Palais will serve high tea in their chic salon, an elegant experience that is sure to transport one immediately to Europe.
Location: Palais by Perfect Pie is located at 134 E. 61st. Street, New York, New York.
Menu: The all-day bistro is decidedly French. Bill Yosses collaborated with his mentor Jean Jacques Rachou and pastry chef John Wu (and other partners) to create the classic menu. Delicate starters include carpaccio of Sea scallop adorned with caviar, fennel, and green apple, and the Palais Royale Salad topped with duck prosciutto, grilled peaches, and brioche toast slathered with goat cheese. These appetizers whet your appetite and prepare you for the fantastic main dishes.
Classic French entrees like Coq au Vin and duck breast with roasted plums, swiss chard, with lavender, peppercorn gastrique share the list with bistro items such as the Palais Burger and fries.
The desserts are other-worldly, as you can imagine with Bill Yosses at the helm. The patisserie case is a sight to behold – glass shelves layered with opera cakes, rustic crostatas, lemon curd tartlets, and Mont Blancs filled with chestnut creme dotted with mini meringues. The pastries are so beautiful they resemble tiny works of art. And, they are available any time of day.
Thoughts: The newly opened restaurant oozes a chic vibe in keeping with the upscale Upper East Side neighborhood. The location, formerly Rachou’s Le Lavandou, is now decorated in a serene palette of sage green. There is a long banquette that runs against the left wall, which allows for maximum occupancy. The soothing decor includes accent walls covered in striking custom silk wallpaper (with roses and birds) that resembles a pattern Yosses admired in an ambassador’s residence in London back when he worked for the Obamas. As you enter the restaurant, the pastry case located on your right is a show stopper.
The staff is warm and willing to please as they genuinely wish you to relax and enjoy every moment of the experience. Our large table of foodies wanted to sample nearly everything on the menu. The appetizer portion of pasta was too small to sample. We requested a double portion, which was not a problem. In fact, we enjoyed attentive service our entire visit. That personal touch really added to the magic of the evening.
Our starter included the Palais Royale Salad with duck prosciutto and grilled peaches. We also ordered cavatelli pasta with autumn vegetables (the appetizer we doubled). There were five of us and we portioned tasting plates from all the dishes. The pasta was creamy and decadent, and while the salad was excellent, we could have eaten the pasta all evening. The salad greens were crisp and lightly dressed in a champagne vinaigrette. We really enjoyed the smokey grilled peaches paired with the rich salty duck prosciutto. It made a great flavor profile with the addition of the mild goat cheese toast.
Next, we ordered the duck breast in with lavender peppercorn gastrique. The duck, served rare, was incredibly tender. The lavender peppercorn sauce didn’t overpower the dish with too much perfume, instead, the sauce added a herby, spicy flavor that enhanced the earthy duck. It was a unique preparation that we all felt was a winning combination.
After the duck, we sampled three entrees. First, the grilled strip loin, with fries and Bordelaise Butter. The steak was tender and served medium-rare. The Bordelaise butter, made with dry red wine, bone marrow, butter, and shallots added a rich flavor to the beef that we found addictive. After the steak, we sampled the Coq au Vin with red wine, bacon, mushrooms, and cippolini onions. The dish included Yukon gold mashed potatoes. Out of all the plates, which were exceptional, my personal favorite was the Coq au Vin. It was tender, smokey and rich due to the deep flavors of the bacon and mushrooms. It was truly one of the best versions of this classic dish that I have ever tasted.
On top of the main dishes, we ordered a side order of Aligot. Aligot is mashed potatoes elevated to a heavenly level. Served in a bowl, the potatoes were beyond creamy and whipped with Comte, a French cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and Raclette, a semi-hard cow’s cheese that melts beautifully. It was more cheese than potatoes and we titled it the ultimate comfort food of the evening.
We couldn’t refuse dessert so we each ordered our favorite for a total of five different plates. The pastries were gorgeous and delicate. Our list included a tropical fruit opera cake with light layers of sponge topped with a tart fruit gelee. Next, the citron tart topped with raspberries, a dollop of whipped cream, and edible flowers. The lemon curd tasted like sweet sunshine and the delicate shortbread crust crumbled when sliced with a fork.
The third selection, a Mont Blanc, resembles a fancy eclair (but narrow) filled with chestnut cream and topped with tiny meringues and fresh berries. The fourth choice, a rustic crostata filled with peaches and served with pistachio sauce to drizzle at will. And finally, a dark chocolate tart that sat on top of a sweet, creamy, caramel sauce. We swiped forkfuls of the rich chocolate into the caramel sauce and it was divine. Only crumbs remained on the plates. It was truly an incredible meal from start to finish and it is the kind of experience that is unforgettable.
Price Range: On the dinner menu, the appetizers range from $15-20 with salads from $14-18. Entrees like the Palais Burger are $22 but more interesting mains range from $36-40. Sides like the aligot are $11. Pasteries are all around $9 a portion.