When I first had Le Pain, it was for weekly brunch/coffee breaks. I frequented the upper east side location on 85th and Madison, and admired the cozy wooden furnishings and the large communal table. The concept is a French boulangerie that serves fresh baked breads, pastries, soups, salads, and tartines. The name itself translates roughly to "the everyday bread" --which I totally agree with because this is bread that I would not mind eating every day.
For a nutritious quick fix, I would recommend the soft boiled egg (only available before noon on weekdays), which comes with a side of bread. I usually request for five grain because their five grain is nutty and contains raisins, which gives it a nice tang. Definitely enough carbs and protein to jump start your afternoon! (an order of their aromatic coffee helps with that also).
A few days ago, I was there with Chelsea for lunch.
Le Pain aims to use organic ingredients whenever they can, and they offer a variety of vegetarian and vegan friendly options.
I know from experience that their salads and tartines are quite sizable, so we ordered one of each to share.
The shrimp salad was made of organic mesclun, avocado, mango, tomato salsa, and vinaigrette. The tomato salsa/vinaigrette went well with the mango and I feel like you can never go wrong with ripe avocado and shrimp. Their ingredients were definitely all very fresh, which always deserves extra points.
They offer a wide selection of tartines of which I'm usually underwhelmed by. However, this time I was thoroughly impressed by the ricotta tartine with with mission figs, black pepper & organic acacia honey. It tasted like Fage yogurt with honey spread over their own whole wheat bread. Even better, there were sweet figs sprinkled on top. The ricotta was creamy, but not overwhelming, and this would be a pretty solid choice because it offers protein, carbohydrates, and calcium, but it may be a bit over with the fat from the ricotta. Definitely a great entree to share. And also, it complemented the tart salad quite well.
Another perk about dining at Le Pain is the amazing bread and their custom spreads that you can just ask for. As mentioned before, their five grain is great, but I also enjoy their baguettes (I spent a summer in France, I know what baguettes should taste like). If you're looking to indulge, ask for their spreads and you will be greeted by three jars: their fruit preserve, an apricot spread, and some sort of nutty spread.
Recently, they've been serving their noisella, which was a chocolate hazelnut spread, but they also have a blonde, which is a praline spread. Both very rich. The noisella tastes like a spreadable Ferrero Rocher.
Their fruit preserve is my all time favorite, and it's a very fruity berry mixture. I usually have a jar of this at home; that's how good it is.
Definitely a great place to bring a date. Any kind of date: romantic, friendly, coffee, dessert. It's casual enough that you just walk in, but unique and tasteful enough to impress.
Le Pain Quotidien
1131 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10028
Friday, January 7, 2011
Le Pain Quotidien
New York raised me, New Orleans changed me, Los Angeles don't phase me. I'm a Registered Dietitian and a lover of all things delicious and healthy. A proud Tufts University double Jumbo, I received my BA in International Relations and Biomedical Sciences and my MS in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition. I enjoy exploring farmers markets, reading fantasy, and experimenting in the kitchen.