In my attempts to pretend I'm in Paris, I suggested brunch/lunch/shopping with some girl friends Sunday morning. After non stop rain on Friday and Saturday, Sunday's sunny morning with fall temperatures made me estatic to spend the morning outside with good food and friends. We had decided to dine at Le Pain Quotidien (http://www.lepainquotidien.com/) before exploring the flea/farmer market. Now I have eaten at several LPQs throughout the country. My first experience with LPQ was last year in Manhattan when some friends and I discovered one close to Central Park on the West side. And I had never realized it was a chain restaurant until I discovered one in Bethesda, then Eastern market, and now below my gym in Arlington. I have a love/hate relationship with LPQ mainly due to their prices and service and amazing of their food. This is NOT a cheap restaurant for the portion of food that is served (it's probably the correct portion size and I'm just Amercanized but we are in a recession aka I want the most bang for my buck) and the service is not horrible but it can take too long to get food/refills (I've experienced this at all the LPQs that I've eaten at). So why do I eat there? Because of the amazingness of the food and the European vibe that is evident in the attitude and decor of the restaurant. First, LPQ is considered a communal/open table restaurant with a bakery. There are individual tables for private groups but also long tables that singles and other groups can sit. The furniture is light wood accented with subtle light fixtures and huge windows (I love the sun). A bakery is avalaible to purchase LPQ original breads and spreads (jam, jelly, butter,etc) and treats. But it's their menu based food that wins my heart. First, LPQ focuses on organic, homemade food with numerous healthy benefits and specified vegan/vegetarian options. I typically order one of three tartines (an open faced sandwhich): black bean hummus tartine (vegan), scallion nori avacado tartine (vegan), and the salmon tartine. All three of these are a fantastic blend flavors not commmonly found in most food. On Sunday I was craving avacado so I decided to order the scallion nori avacado tartine. It comes served on LPQ whole grain bread with slices of avacado and scallions with nori sheets, radishes, lemon, and tomatoes on the side....delicious!
It's like a mexican sushi sans rice. I try to be ladylike and eat with my knife and fork but about half way through lunch, I grabbed it and starting chowing down. One of my friends (who is vegan) ordered their six vegetable quiche which is made with a buckwheat, gluten free shell. I had to try a little sample and was greatly rewarded with a beatiful combination of some of my favorite flavors. It was a blend of carrots and sweet potatoes accented by the buckwheat shell giving the quiche a more earthy/fall flavor than your typical egg based quiche. Unfortunately, I'm now semi obsessed and foresee myself stopping at LPQ on my way home from the gym to order the wonderful quiche. The rest of my friends ordered other tartines including a tuna salad tartine (which my friend adored and ate as quickly as I ate my own tartine) and the smoked turkey tartine which was described as "an adult version of a delicious turkey sandwhich). We also enjoyed pots of coffee, mint lemonade (which I personally do like drinking mint), and fresh fruit salad (I absolutely adore honey dew). After gorging ourselves (not really-LPQ is great for portion control since everything is expensive), we strolled the market enjoying the beautiful DC fall weather. Overall, I recommend LPQ as a treat when you are craving a simple, fresh, and beautiful breakfast/lunch and you do not mind paying the extra money for the deliciousness you will enjoy.