Restaurant Review: Le Pain Quotidien

Reviewed January 18, 2009

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!

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