Breakfast, lunch, supper, snack, long afternoon with a friend - anytime is ideal for a visit to the casually sophisticated, Le Pain Quotidien. Whether on the spacious, wrap-around patio or in the bustling interior, seated at one of the “communal tables” or in your own, intimate nook, you won’t have to work hard to find the sumptuous soul of this popular bakery-cum-gathering place.Le Pain Quotidien
(The Daily Bread), founded in Brussels
in the 90s and since expanded to over 45 outlets from New York to Kuwait, functions on principles of “simplicity, authenticity, quality and conviviality."
It’s the kind of place where a droopy-eyed pup under a patio table looks just as content as her human above, who leafs through a magazine and affirms, “oui, oui” to neighboring diners, or simply sits silently in the now with her food.
The menu provides options for vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters, as well as sugar junkies and health hounds, so long as they can appreciate a certain reverence for cuisine that seems infused within each bite.
Morning starters include the two soft-boiled eggs, which provide an uncomplicated but classically European boost to any day. Cooked for five minutes, eggs-with-shell are nestled in small, porcelain cups; from here you carefully lop off the top of each egg and dip strips of homemade bread in the yolk.
Another eggy dish worth mention is the light and fluffy wild mushroom omelet, interspersed with hearty mushrooms and scallions. The eggs - as well as the milk and breads - are organic.
A pretty addition to any morning spread is the organic granola parfait. It arrives in a tall glass and consists of layers of yogurt, granola and seasonal fruit.
As the day waxes on, the menu continues to shine. The soups are organic and vegan, salads are available to suit varying palettes, and a few of the tartines (open-faced sandwiches) are innovatively vegetarian.
Take the avocado and nori-seaweed tartine, for instance. Triangles of freshly made whole-grain bread are slathered with an avocado spread, topped with strips of sweet-salty nori and a freshly cubed tomato. It’s not as traditionally Euro as the rest, but it seems to fit with the bistro scene just the same.
A look at the dessert case might leave you a little dizzy with indecision. The chocolate espresso tart, almond pound cake and mixed berry tart are a few standards. The latter, small in size, but not in taste, boasts exquisitely smooth crème, topped with a blue-, straw-, and blackberry jumble and is held up by a thin, flaky-crisp crust.
Other sweet standouts include an apple-pear turnover, with fruit tucked into a sugar-sprinkled pastry, and the French doughnut, filled with a wicked mound of light crème.
If you don’t feel up to taking on a multi-course event, stop in for one of the best lattes in West Hollywood, served in a bowl. The selection of teas include the caffeinated or non, and they are--take a guess--organic.
Le Pain Quotidien is a relaxed venue, where service is sometimes a tad relaxed too. So, make room in your schedule, linger a while, give in to a temptation or few, and then, (you can do it!) stroll calmly away.
Fortunately, the Bodhi Tree bookstore is right next door. A browse through its abundant aisles may help ground that coffee-and-sugar high, and help you carry the joie de vivre, so elegantly begun on your taste buds, into your day.