Friday, July 27, 2012

A Nice Change For Breakfast!

Paley Park, next to a Le Pain Quotidien
restaurant in midtown Manhattan

Le Pain Quotidien has both a communal and
individual tables (photo courtesy of Le Pain Quotidien)


Le Pain Quotidien is a bakery/restaurant that provides a tasty alternative to standard travel breakfasts.

What I find most frustrating about breakfast on the road is the relatively stark choice of healthy food with sparse taste or tasty food with lots of fat and salt. And the presence, early in the morning, of loud television at some places does no help, either.  Why does almost every hotel chain in America assume every breakfast diner is deaf and that the television volume should be set accordingly?

Le Pain Quotidien, a restaurant chain founded in Belgium, offers a mostly organic breakfast that is as plain or as rich as you would like. The chain has restaurants in New York, California, four other states and the District of Columbia and in overseas locations as diverse as Brussels and Qatar.

The Le Pain Quotidien breakfast menu is fairly consistent at each location. I particularly like their breakfast special which includes a croissant and a slice each of baguette, whole wheat and five-grain breads. The restaurant’s breads have the paradoxical properties of being both light and substantial at the same time. The bread has a slight, but not overpowering, taste of sourdough.

You can also get individual pastries, soft-boiled eggs, steel-cut oatmeal and fresh fruits. The orange juice is very nice. The coffee is all right, better than that at the Holiday Inn but without the pizzazz of coffee at the Marriott.

Later in the day, you could return for quiche, tartines (breads with assorted meat, vegetable and cheese toppings) and salads.

We have eaten at Le Pain Quotidiens in Pasadena, California and in midtown Manhattan.

At both, the dining room was quiet and peaceful, allowing a wake-up without crowds or loud television. The service is unhurried but if you have to catch a plane, the staff will speed your order.

Each restaurant has common layouts and features. These include a choice between sitting at a communal table or individual table. Diners can also buy cookies, pastries or jams and spreads to go.

However, the restaurants also draw on their communities. In Pasadena, for example, we had breakfast outside. The Pasadena location also had an egg white omelet, which is very good. In New York City, we were delighted to discover that one of the midtown locations is just to the right of that wonderful mini-park, Paley Park.

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