Le Pain Quotidien - Anything good (besides pastries)?
I tried this place a few times, always wanting to like it based on its European pedigree, but I always walked away feeling disappointed. The food is forgettable and it seems too pricey for what you get. Portions are small to moderate and very little preparation goes into any of their dishes (seriously, the sandwiches I had were open face with simply bread, a couple measly slices of meat on top and pots of mustard on the side) so what am I paying for?
Given my bad experiences I'd normally write this place off. However my SO lives around the corner from one and it's the only breakfast/lunch place in walking distance of his house. Given that I'd really like to give it another try and am reaching out to my Chows for suggestions. Any recommendations? What's good? What's not worth the money?
I think this place is about good organic ingredients, prepared simply. That's what makes in more expensive than you would expect. If that's not your style, it probably will disappoint you in every respect.
Their salads are good -- try the one with the cheeses but share it (it's a lot of cheese). I also like the roast beef sandwich, and the bread is very good overall. Oh, and since it's fall they should be bringing back the pumpkin muffin soon -- it's really good. Otherwise some of the baked goods can be a bit hit or miss.
Open face sandwiches are how they are made and consumed in Europe. Higher quality ingredients are what you are paying for.
Gazpacho is really good. (all the soups are good in general)
Ricotta and Fig Tartine is good.
Black Bean Hummus tartine is good (but may be too spicy for some)
Pastry-Of-The-Month is usually a good bet (just got the Fig & Banana muffin today, yum)
They have this lemony sort of dressing on the salads that's really good too.
In one area I think they are lacking is drinks - the only thing I've gotten there I've really liked was the lemonade (which is pretty tart fyi)
Yeah, it's pricey - however, as others have said organic ingredients aren't terribly cheap, so... though, I can't usually finish the tartines in one sitting.
Thanks for the suggestions! Based on what you all are saying it sounds like when it comes to the sandwiches I'm paying for ingredients, not prep. In that case I'd probably be happier going to the Whole Foods down the street and making one myself.
But I do like the suggestions for the soups, fig/ricotta tartine and the cheese salad (I'm a sucker for anything with good cheese).
re: Room to Roam
I can't endorse the cheese salad. I ordered it at the location near Lincoln Center a few months ago, and all the cheeses were served much too cold, and were totally flavorless. The Gruyere slices might as well have been plastic, the Brie rubber, and the Fourme d'Ambert so unmemorable that I have no words to describe it.
To top it all off, the waiter noticed that I had hardly touched the salad, and said "What, you didn't like it?" I said "No, not particularly. The cheese had no flavor." He then brought me my check, with the salad included, and with no apology about my dissatisfaction.
Again, go to Whole Foods, buy some more interesting cheeses, and make your own.