Translated, Le Pain Quotidien means "daily bread". Anyway, now that I have happily settled into the Second City, I am sorely missing my treks into the isle of Manhattan for my weekly fix of what I think is some great everyday awesome food at Le Pain Quotidien. (pronounced: luh paN koh-ti-dyaN)
Just a little history for those of you out there who haven't yet had the pleasure of a breakfast or lunch at LP. "Simple, wholesome, nourishing and delicious".... is how they describe their fare and I wholeheartedly agree! They stick to organic products and produce as much as is possible, the presentation is artful and the flavors are so very, very fresh. But possibly the most interesting thing that they have introduced to our continent is the idea of "communal dining". This is so great for those of us who find ourselves dining solo every once in awhile. So easy and not intimidating, if you know what I mean!
"Friends and strangers alike come together around our communal table to break bread and linger for a while. Like all of our furniture, the communal table is made from reclaimed wood, which means no trees were sacrificed for us to sit and unwind. Take a seat next to a neighbor, share the Brunette and be reminded that, even in the big city, we are a community."
I can't help but respect and appreciate the philosophy behind that statement. I also appreciate that they are using reclaimed wood for the tables and furniture and are very much active in a sustaining approach to the environment.
Being the creature of habit that I am just realizing that I am, I most often order a tartine (n. A French open-faced sandwich, especially one with a rich or fancy spread), the Roasted Turkey with diced tomatoes, scallions & herb dressing, to be exact. This is presented on a rectangular flat plate with garnishes of sliced radish, small black olives and cornichon. Oh, and did I mention that they have spelt bread? And it's so good too. In fact, on a recent trip back to New York, I met my sister-in-law, my Mom and my two adorable nephews at their new location in New Canaan, Connecticut and what did I order? Of course, my favorite: Roasted Turkey Tartine. Mom went crazy over their brownie, so chocoholics beware! It packs a deep chocolate punch. My sister-in-law opted for one of their fresh amazing salads. She absolutely loved it!
Photo of Alain Coumont from Food and Wine, July 2009
Food and Wine Magazine did an article on Le Pain Quotidien, which you can find here. Alain Coumont, the 48-year-old founder, began Le Pain Quotidien in 1990 as an artisanal bakery in his native Belgium. At the time, Coumont was the chef at a restaurant in Brussels called Le Café du Dôme. He was frustrated with the city’s breads, so he decided to make his own on the side. Over the past two decades, Coumont has opened more than 100 Le Pain Quotidien cafés in over 15 countries.
Please do yourself a favor and the next time you are in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., or Connecticut stop in and have a tartine, salad or any of the many other delicious offerings they are serving up daily. If you find yourself in France, Belgium, the United Kingdom or 10 or so other countries they are now in, track them down. You will be happy you did!
Sadly they have no plans to come to Chicago....I sent an email and asked if they would! Oh well, more reason for me to come back East more often!!! But I will hold out the hope that they will someday come to the Windy City!