Restaurant Review: Le Pain Quotidien

June 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

It was sweltering hot in D.C. this weekend, with temperatures in the 90s. On Sunday, a friend and I went to have a late lunch at Le Pain Quotidien, a chain that brands itself as a cafe with a classy rustic charm. The display cases are full of hearty loaves of breads and specialty jams. The menu consists of open-faced sandwiches called tartines, as well as soups and salads.  On weekends the breakfast menu is available until 3PM.

I really wanted something to cool me off from the heat. The waitress recommended the gazpacho soup, listed as a summer specialty. The gazpacho came in a large bowl, supplemented with a piece of white bread and a piece of wheat bread. It basically was a chilled, blended tomato soup with pesto drizzled on top. There were little shreds of zucchini, and also little pieces of something sweet – I think they were mango chunks, an interesting choice.

The gazpacho was a great choice for cooling off – it had a mild tomato flavor and a smooth texture. however, I should not have squeezed the lemon juice into it, as it already had a tangy sourness and the lemon brought it over the top. It doesn’t look like it from this photo angle, but the bowl was pretty large, maybe 16 oz., and I could only take so much of the flavor of tomato and onions. I gave up about halfway through – it was pretty filling.

The bread was pretty chewy and crusty, which is great if you like that type of bread, but I found it a bit too tough for my liking. My order was $6.95 (there is a smaller size soup available for about a dollar less, but I forgot to specify). The service as pretty slow, which was a bit of a letdown, as both our dishes shouldn’t have taken very long to prepare, but we definitely waited for at least half an hour after ordering. I liked the ambiance of the restaurant, but nothing stood out, so I don’t think I’ll be back, unless it is to try their breakfast menu or baked goods.

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