One of my favourite London bloggers, The Fat Gay Vegan, recently posted about discovering a range of vegan dishes on the menu at Le Pain Quotidien. With branches based all over Europe, it wasn’t long before I found an excuse to try them out for myself, and I went with a mixed bag of mates to really test the appeal.
‘Le Pain Quotidien’ translates as ‘The Daily Bread’, and this is a good insight in to the atmosphere that this restaurant chain are trying to create. Their menu is centred around their fresh artisan breads and pastries, and the interior design is big on long, communal tables and rustic farmhouse touches. It’s all meant to encourage a laid, back, ‘family dinner’ sort of vibe and it’s a formula that has clearly resonated with Londoners: every branch I’ve visited has been packed out.
We dined at the Covent Garden site in the main Piazza, at a table of four upstairs. At noon, when we arrived, our wait to be seated was relatively short, but it got a lot busier later on, with a twenty minute wait being common for parties bigger than two. This is however, pretty standard in such a tourist hot-spot on a Sunday afternoon.
We started off with a round of coffees, which came served in their handle-less coffee cups (essentially it was a small bowl). I guess these are meant to encourage you to wrap your hands around them and slurp like something from a cosy Christmas movie. Very quaint. As we were still waiting for a late member of our party, we ordered an organic Bakers Bread Basket to tide us over, which on the menu is supposed to be a two person portion. In reality, a huge bowl of spelt, rye, walnut and ciabatta bread arrived with a variety of jams/spreads and butter – it was delicious, but far more than we could finish!
I was pleased to find so many really good menu options for vegans. From the mixed hummus platter with vegetable crudites, to the avocado and white bean tartine, all of the ‘100% botanical’ dishes sounded really bloody tasty. Other options included an organic lentil and avocado salad, organic cranberry and raspberry cranola, and a six vegetable quiche.
Vegetarian options on the LPQ menu ranged from organic scrambled eggs with mushrooms to baked goats cheese salad. Finally, for the meat-eaters, a wonderfully chunky chorizo and potato fritatta went down particularly well with our table, and I can personally vouch for the fact that the Wiltshire ham and Gruyere cheese croissants smelled incredible as they wafted past us.
Overall, I was very impressed with LPQ’s potential to satisfy pretty much anyone. Almost everything on the menu was organic (including all of their milk and eggs) and the portion sizes were generous and in line with the prices. Our table of four spent £80 including a tip, and we all left stuffed and happy after a couple of hours of grazing and a few rounds of coffee. If you’re looking for a place in London where vegans, veggies, carnivores and fussy eaters will all be well catered for and can dine in harmony, you couldn’t go far wrong with a trip to Le Pain Quotidien.