My family arrived into town for the week on Saturday for Thanksgiving just in time for brunch.We have a whole line-up of brunch spots (naturally) but I thought it might be nice on their first day here to instead go somewhere a tad more low-key where we didn’t have to have a reservation in advance. I immediately thought of Le Pain Quotdien. Even though I’ve only eaten there once while visiting friends in DC, I’ve noticed the one to the North of Union Square seems to usually be busy and thought it would be a good option.
We were able to be seated immediately, a plus for any restaurant that doesn’t accept reservations. While there are a few smaller individual tables, the bulk of the seating at this particular location is a long communal table in the center of the restaurant, at which we were seated on the end. We started off with the Organic Baker’s Basket – a plentiful variety of sliced breads paired with jams (four fruit and apricot) and spreads (hazelnut praline and white chocolate, or as they dub them, Brownie and Blondie, respectively). I’d had this before sharing with one person, so obviously it didn’t go quite as far (this time was a party of five), but it’s still not a bad deal for $8.
My mom and I split the Prosciutto & Mozzarella di Bufala Tartine, which was an open faced sandwich (tartine) topped with with sundried tomatoes and basil pesto. This was a nice size, even for sharing, and was exactly what you would expect. The mozzarella was in perfect proportion to the proscuitto, and the combination of the sundried tomatoes and the basil pesto added just the right amount of flavor to balance the subtleness of the mozzarella. It was served alongside two slices of fresh canteloupe (a perfect addition – just the right degree of ripeness). We also ordered the Goat Cheese & Arugula Salad, which was served with Parmesan, toasted pine nuts, organic olive oil, and lemon. I was not as impressed with the salad. The arugula was extremely bitter (even extremely so for arugula as it does tend to be bitter). The $13 pricetag seemed excessive for the rather simplistic salad.
By the time drinks were added in (most of the coffee and tea drinks came in the $3-$5 price range), our total came to $85, a bit more excessive for what I was anticipating, though every little bit adds up. Perhaps more value than you realize in the $15-$20 brunch special offerings – at least you know what to expect!
Pros: Love their spreads (also available to purchase in the entry at their bakery/to-go counter), the cappuccino was quite good (the large turned out to be a bit too big, which was a pleasant surprise), and the tartines.
Cons: The salads are on the pricey side for what they are and if you’re wanting a private table, they might be hard to come by.
Tip: Looking for a quieter cafe? Try their location tucked just off the back of ABC Carpet, directly next door.
Le Pain Quotdien – 38 East 19th St (between Broadway & Park Ave) – 212.673.7900
Reservations Not Accepted
Locations throughout NYC as well as other areas in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast