Le Pain Quotidien

Written by on May 14, 2011 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

(lepainquotidien.com) – Georgetown, Washington, DC

How I heard of this place: My friend and current house-mate, Andra, recommended Le Pain Quotidien (pronouced like this: luh paN koh-ti-dyaN and it means “the daily bread“) after having had brunch there with some of her girlfriends, recently. She specifically recommended their Sunday brunch, but I figured, being a French cafe, they would have pastries and coffee to keep us going as three friends and I made our way through The Mall (museums) and the streets of Georgetown. Note: As I was on my 12-mile walk through Northern Virginia and Washington, DC last weekend, I noticed another Le Pain Quotidien in Clarendon.

Type of cuisine: “Whenever we can, we source organic ingredients. This way, we not only build lasting and meaningful partnerships with organic farmers, but we also ensure our ingredients are of the highest quality. It’s about finding the very best, in a way that is good for all of us.” Breads, pastries, salads, soups and accoutrements, and all fresh and homemade. “Our bread is made today exactly as it was in the beginning: with only organic stone-ground flour, salt, and water, kneaded and shaped by hand and baked in a hearth under the watchful eye of artisan bakers.” As for the “finely craft[ed]…delectable pastries in our pâtisserie…we understand the magic of a buttery, flaky croissant and of a dark, fudgy brownie. We bake our pastries fresh every day so that we can offer you that magic whenever you need it.” And if you are not satisfied after consuming your well-portioned, well-balanced and light, yet flavorful meal, snack or pastry,

Le Pain Quotidien helps you take some of France home: “We insist on the freshest and finest ingredients. If we can’t find them, we make them ourselves. Our shelves are lined with the products we’ve created: the jams and chocolate spreads on the communal table, the granola in your parfait, the coffee that fills your bowl.”

Ambiance: “This philosophy influences every part of the way we do business, from the food we serve to the design of our stores to the materials we use. We use reclaimed wood and recycled Gypsum in construction, energy-efficient lamps, and environmentally friendly cleaning supplies and packaging. It’s good for our bodies, our communities, and our earth.” The rustic space comes complete with minimalist class. Brick walls, sparsely decorated, host a large chalkboard with the handwritten menu of specials du jour. A small window with ledge hosts three round loaves of artisan bread, and the wooden furnishings interspersed throughout look straight out of an early 1900s home, hosting silverware, condiments and other such necessities. The most noteworthy demarkation indoors is the large, wooden communal table at the center of the cafe seating area, where patrons are invited to sit andbreak bread with neighboring diners. “Friends and strangers alike come together around our communal table to break bread and linger for a while. Like all of our furniture, the communal table is made from reclaimed wood, which means no trees were sacrificed for us to sit and unwind. Take a seat next to a neighbor, share the Brunette and be reminded that, even in the big city, we are a community.” The entry-way opens up to a beautiful, asymmetrically raised display of cookies, muffins, scones and other delightfully sweet pastries. The cashier is set against a background of fresh baked artisan and rustic breads, making for an inviting setting, yet challenging to decide!

What I ordered: Upon being seated, I was quite intrigued by the display of three spreads at the center, in case we had ordered bread. When I noticed the glass jar named: Brunette, I could not let the opportunity to sample it pass me up! I opened the lid, and immersed my just-delivered teaspoon into it, pulling it out with a healthy dollop of praline butter! I encouraged, without having to convince them, my dining companions to do the same. In our party of four, I selected the host-recommended Mixed Berry Tart ($6.35), a small tart shell with a vanilla pudding topped with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, and a small Belgian Hot Chocolate ($3.95), steamed milk, served in a bowl and accompanied by a small, metal carafe of melted dark chocolate, unsweetened. It was up to me to determine how much – yes, all of it – to add to my small bowl of milk. The dining companion on my bill selected the Lemon Tart ($5.25), a creamy and tart lemon custard set in a crumbly, small tart shell and topped with one, bright red raspberry, and an Iced (double shot) Latte ($4.30). Seated at the communal table across from us, we had an order for a double shot Iced Cappuccino ($4.30) and one glass of Iced Chamomile Mint tea ($3.50), decorated with a sprig of fresh mint. For their sweet treats, one order was made for the Coconut Macaroon ($3.10), which was served two perfectly golden, generous mounds to a plate, an Apple-Pear Turnover ($3.50), buttery, flaky crust rolled around soft, sweet slices of apple and pear, baked to a light golden color and served warm, as well as one Mini Mousse Cake ($6.00), chocolate mousse set atop a thin layer of chocolate cake, and topped with melted chocolate to create a layer of smooth, chocolatey beauty, the bottom third rolled in hazelnut shreds, and topped with one, lone toasted hazelnut.

What I loved: Of all of our desserts, I most enjoyed the Mixed Berry Tart, followed by a tie between the Coconut Macaroons and the Apple-Pear Turnover. The chocolate mousse was decadent and soft, smooth and creamy, melting in your mouth; the Lemon Tart, sweet, yet tart, the perfect custard consistency set in a beautifully crumbling crust. Neither, however, could match the Mixed Berry Tart! The presentation of the Belgian Hot Chocolate stole the show, while the Latte was potent, dark and well-roasted.

Why I loved it: I love the atmosphere, casual, yet classy, easy and comfortable. I love the abundance of options, whether one is there for breakfast, lunch, a snack or a cup of coffee, it is a space that invites. The pastries were beautifully presented and tasted even better! It is definitely a place to which I will return, for brunch, lunch, dinner…As long as I am here, this has become my new, favorite, organic cafe!

Cost: Average to high ($3-$7 per pastry)

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