“If you can’t sit in a cafe quietly and be ignored, how can you observe human nature and write a story?” ~ Evangeline Lilly
I first discovered Le Pain Quotidien on one of my first ever trips to New York City. It seemed an anomaly situated on the Upper East Side against the concrete and honking cars. The farm to table philosophy and the communal tables forcing anti social city slickers to mingle.
I was at once sold.
That was until they brought out the bowl of cafe au lait, then I was in heaven.
I didn’t realize at the time it was a chain which had originated in Europe.
When I made my move to New York I was ecstatic to discover they had two in walking distance of where I live, and it soon became a frequent destination of mine whether it was to meet friends, to study, or to write.
The menu isn’t just extensive, it is ever changing, yet staying true to its holistic farm to table roots serving a variety of salads, tartines, frittatas, soups and a smorgasbord of pastries. The extensive portions are dependent on the season. Making sure to channel the freshness of fruits and veggies that are grown locally during that time frame. It is both good and bad, as I crave out of season dishes and become giddy when I know they are close to coming back.
When I first started frequenting Le Pain, they didn’t offer anything exclusively Gluten Free (salad’s and certain soups being naturally Gluten free or adapting them sans bread.) with the exception of a vegan buckwheat crusted seven vegetable quiche. It didn’t taste vegan and it certainly didn’t taste gluten free. I was satisfied for the most part, ordering this dish.
That was until they began offering gluten free bread, and a whole new menu was opened up to me. They also specify what is and isn’t Gluten free, and what can be adapted, as well as marking what is and is not vegan and vegetarian. This only expands their holistic outlook on food.
I admit what made me fall in love with Le Pain was the bowls of coffee. Coming in two sizes they are served in actual bowls. While they don’t offer fancy flavors, their cafe au lait alone, is enough to invoke the warm and fuzzies making you feel like you are curled up in bed rather then a busy city cafe.
Because of the sizes, it feels like a decadent desert and a caffeinated meal all rolled into one. Channeling that European mind set of savoring food and drink rather then slurping it quickly, their coffee really is an experience.
The furnishings are made of wood creating that real farm to table rustic feel that they pride themselves on, without being dark and dreary. It feels more like an airy Italian Vineyard in cafe form. The tables are also made out of wood with a range of large communal as well as as well as smaller tables. While they don’t advertise it, many of the locations do in fact have wi-fi, making it the perfect place to settle in with that bowl of coffee and get your writing on.
Have you ever been to Le Pain Quotidien?