Restaurant Review: Le Pain Quotidien

As mentioned, I accidentally went out to dinner last night after the movie. Whoops! Maybe I couldn’t afford it, but it was sooooo good. Gina, Kate, the Feld, and I went to Union Square’s Le Pain Quotidien, a bakery/boulangerie chain that has recently added several new locations throughout the city. The specials board pulled us in:

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Restaurants seem to be all about philosophies these days, and Le Pain Quotidien is no exception. From the menu:

“The idea behind Le Pain Quotidien is simply to make a good daily bread, a handmade bread with a good crust and a firm slice, the kind of bread that makes great tartines. Bread not only to nourish the body, but the spirits as well. A bread best shared around a table, to be savored among friends.”

Normally, I’m not so into chains, but this one was right there and we were
cold. As soon as we crossed the threshold, all chain skepticism vanished because the decor was so simple and sparse that we felt as though we were inside an authentic French country farm kitchen.

Gina ordered the Garden Quiche, and it takes the prize for the best looking quiche I’ve ever seen. I had one bite and discovered it was also the fluffiest and lightest quiche I’ve ever tasted. Usually quiches turn me off because they are dense and slimy, but not this beauty:

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The Feld and I split the Goat Cheese & Arugula Salad with parmesan, toasted pine nuts, olive oil, and lemon (530 calories, as the menu so bluntly stated):

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And the Ricotta Tartine (this is what Kate got, too) with mission figs, diced tomatoes, black pepper, and organic acacia honey (390 calories):

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Here’s my portion of salad:

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This salad had everything I love. I think it was designed just for me with these huge slivers of parmesan, mmmmm:

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Here’s my portion of the tartine:

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It was superbly delicious as well! I want to be able to balance all these exclamations of perfection with some complaints, but I can’t. Figs, ricotta, and honey can’t help but form a magical food trinity:

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Then, the Feld had a brilliant idea! She topped her tartine pieces with some of the parmesan from the salad and gave me a bite:

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The parmesan added just the right touch of saltiness to transform the tartine into a salty-sweet masterpiece. And for all of this deliciousness, I only spent $14, including tax and tip! (The price only becomes a problem when I factor in the $12.50 I had just spent on the movie and the $19 I had spent on dinner the night before. Oh well, I will make it up.) Definitely worth it.

The only downside was temperature. The restaurant was pretty drafty thanks to a side door that randoms kept using to come in from the street. I spent the last half hour fully bundled in my scarf and coat!

I took a picture of us, but again, we looked so cold and bedraggled in it (it’s just not prime photo season, is it??) so here’s one from July when we were neither cold nor bedraggled. L to R — Kate, Q (who couldn’t make it tonight but was present for this brunch), me, the Feld, and Gina:

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And you know I couldn’t leave the restaurant without a little somethin’ somethin’ to bring home so, at the urging of the others, I wrapped these in a napkin and stuffed them into my purse:

hunk of French bread, slice of "organic wheat" bread

hunk of French bread, slice of "organic wheat" bread

Perhaps there is French toast in my future???

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8 thoughts on “Restaurant Review: Le Pain Quotidien

  1. Hangry Pants says:

    Thanks for the review. I used to walk by these all the time when I lived in NY, but for some reason, never went in.

    So, I noticed you commented about the cal. counts on the menu. What is your feeling about this?

    Heather

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    • Sarah says:

      Heather, thanks for the question! I’m torn on the calorie-posting (a cop-out answer, I know!). On one hand, I don’t want to be thinking about these things when I’m out to have a good time, but on the other hand, things that sound healthy enough on restaurant menus can be loaded with invisible junk. Who knows how they prepare this food behind the scenes? While I don’t count calories (although I have in the past), having the calorie counts last night reassured me that I could take the ingredients listed on the menu at face value — the numbers seemed to logically match up with the food descriptions. If I had to choose, I’d say I’m in favor of posting calories on the menu because it holds restaurants accountable for what they put in their food and allows patrons to make better-informed food choices.

      What do you think?

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  2. Gina says:

    I also very much enjoyed dinner last night. My quiche was very tasty and the side salad was a nice, healthful touch. However, upon arriving home at 9:30pm (after some shopping in Union Square), I was hungry again! I had some leftover ice cream that’s been in my freezer for months (had to scoop out the freezer burn), some chocolate graham crackers and a mug of Tension Tamer tea. So although I enjoyed the restaurant, it was not enough food or fiber or whatever to fill me up for the night!

    Like

  3. Danielle says:

    Oh my good ness what a great batch of bread to make french toast from.
    And that salad looks great. Every quiche I have had has been so heavy I’d be happy to try something a little lighter.

    Like

  4. Kate says:

    Mmm! The tartine was delicious. I think I’ll try to recreate it at home.

    I went to a party afterwards and had some mulled wine, veggies, hummus, a mini chocolate chip cupcake, and a s’mores cookie! (but didn’t go overboard since I had the tartine earlier)

    Like

  5. erin says:

    i love this place! there is one right by one of my sites in the city, and i go for lunch every time i’m there. the curried chicken salad tartine is my favorite, but i also like the salad you got.

    Like

  6. Olga says:

    hahah my mom always wraps stuff in napkins to bring home! Thanks for the restaurant review, it’s great to see a place I can actually go to! (I live in Brooklyn).

    Your blog looks fantastic, I love your food philosophy. I hope you don’t mind if I add you to my blog roll to keep up!

    Like

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