Le Pain Quotidien, a boulangerie-restaurant chain founded in Brussels, has been in the United States for nearly 20 years, opening their first location in Manhattan in 1997. There are 15 locations of the expansive, but quaint, high-end, but laid back, restaurant in the region, with a spot in the Mosaic District.
The bakery-cafe has a menu with something for everyone – those looking for a pick-me-up in the morning, a snack or treat any time of day or a sit-down breakfast, lunch or dinner. And, while the prices aren’t cheap enough for just anyone to afford, the food is delicious.And it’s healthy. The food at Le Pain Quotidien, which is French for the daily bread, is organic. So, with a few exceptions, the food is worth the expense. Also, every section of the restaurant’s menu has vegan/vegetarian options, too, with plenty of stuff for omnivores to choose from.
The bakery menu at Le Pain Quotidien has lots of yummy treats that will work as a breakfast, dessert or snack. The restaurant’s Hazelnut Flutes ($3.90) – thin, chewy baguettes with slight sour taste – are delicious. They are packed with raisins and whole hazelnuts to give the treat a sweet, buttery flavor.
Le Pain Quotidien also bakes a range of breads – Baguette, Whole Wheat, Rye, Walnut, French Rolls, Spelt or Five-Grain Raisin – that come with organic jam, butter and spread and can be ordered a la carte for $3.90 per serving.
The breakfast and brunch menu at Le Pain Quotidien has some unique menu options, starting with their Avocado Toast ($9.95). It’s seasoned with citrus, cumin and salt, topped with chia seeds and extra virgin olive oil and it’s delicious. If I ate meat, I might try the Toasted Paris Ham & Gruyere Croissant ($8.95), which is served with seasonal greens, cornichons and a mustard trio. That same dish can be ordered as an omelette for $11.95.
Which brings us to the organic eggs and omelette menu at Le Pain Quotidien and more pretend omnivorous speculation from me. The restaurant’s Chicken Chorizo Omelette ($13.10), which comes with organic cheddar cheese, is something else I might order if I were okay with cruelty to animals, which I’m not. Moving on….
Le Pain Quotidien’s hot dishes menu has some delicious dishes, and one in particular that I’m not a big fan of. Let’s start with the mediocre: the Organic Three-Bean Chili ($10.95). It’s okay, a little bland and comes with a dollop of avocado mash (read: guacamole). But hey, every table at Le Pain Quotidien has a salt and pepper grinders, so the fact that it’s a little bland isn’t the biggest deal.
Now to the exceptional. Le Pain Quotidien’s Six-Vegetable Tart ($13.35), with artichoke, vegetables and tofu baked inside a gluten-free buckwheat crust, is literally everything. The dish has protein, vitamins and the seasonal green salad that comes with the tart adds a hefty leafy green serving to it. The tart itself is savory with a slightly sour and sweet crust.
Another small complaint about Le Pain Quotidien is the restaurant’s Lemonade Iced Tea ($3.50), which is a little sour and not at all sweet enough. My ideal of that combination, which some regions call an Arnold Palmer, is a little sweeter than it is sour, influenced by the “half and halfs” and “mixes” that can be found at Chinese food carry-outs in and around Washington, D.C.
All in all, Le Pain Quotidien is a great eatery, bakery and cafe that’s great for those on the go or those who want to sit down and have a great meal.
Le Pain Quotidien | 8296L Glass Alley Ste. 120 | Fairfax | lepainquotidien.com