I’m a huge fan of Le Pain Quotidien (translated as: Our Daily Bread) ever since I discovered it’s existence, and am a frequent customer at the branch on Great Malborough Street. I have to admit I didn’t realise that it was a Belgian establishment until I was researching places to eat in Bruges and Brussels.
From what I’ve observed, the Le Pain philosophy is simple – it’s all about organic food, fairtrade coffee, and being environmentally friendly. According to their website, they use reclaimed wood and recycled Gypsum in construction of shops, energy-efficient lamps, as well as environmentally friendly cleaning supplies and packaging. They also have one large communal table in their shops (the ones I’ve been to anyway), which is something I’ve always found quite nice.
That’s not why I’m such a huge fan though… I’m a fan because I love their food.
There was a Le Pain near our hotel, so we went in search of it. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find it after walking all along the road it was supposed to be on… After returning to the hotel to get directions, we realised why we didn’t notice the shop the first time around – it had a different name! Het Dagelijks Brood. Very different indeed. It still means “Our Daily Bread” though, it’s just in Dutch instead of French.
The first thing that struck me that the Belgian Le Pain menus are different from the London ones, in terms of food served. The menu can roughly be divided into a few sections: breakfast, salads, tartines, pastries, and specials. The breakfast and pastries are similar to the ones in London, but all the salads and tartines were different.
The specials/suggestion board
The communal table, under an open topped roof. Such a nice place to have a meal!
Cappuccinos, with a free chocolate on the side! The chocolate was a nice touch, they never do this in London! Hrmph.
R ordered the one of the breakfast meals – which was basically a basket of freshly baked breads, with a half boiled egg. This is served with a variety of fruit preserves and chocolate spreads to have with the bread.
This is how they the preserves and spreads are served, with a spoon in each jar. It works well though, as you get to choose which preserves or spreads you want, plus you get to have as much or as little as you like. The photo above shows their chocolate spreads… which are delicious. My favourite was the Brunette, which was a milk chocolate and hazelnut spread. Pure heaven, especially when paired with the freshly baked breads.
I ordered the smoked trout, grapefruit and guacamole tartine. The trout and grapefruit complemented each other surprisingly well, and I thoroughly enjoyed this. The flavour of guacamole was slightly overpowered by the other two main ingredients, but I think the tartine wouldn’t have been as nice without it.
I was craving for a polenta muffin for dessert, but they were unfortunately sold out. I had to settle for a pineapple meringue, pictured above. It’s basically two meringues, sandwiched with cream and pineapple chunks, with cocount bits on the top. It was very refreshing, and a revelation as I’d never thought of having pineapples with meringues!
As we enjoyed our meal so much, we decided to try out one of the Le Pain’s in Brussels as well. The one we went to was near Place du Sablon. It looked deceivingly small from the outside, but when we went in, we discovered that there was a huge area at the back with a glass topped roof. It was really nice, especially since it was a nice and sunny day.
We went for different drinks this time around. The red drink is a homemade raspberry iced lemonade. It is delicious, and I fell in love with it the moment I took a sip. I wonder if the London branches would consider adding this to their menu… The coffee in the background is a latte. No chocolates on the side for it though!
Sourdough bread is served with all salads on the menu.
Smoked salmon and organic cheese salad, with a polenta muffin on the side. This was partly to make up for the fact that I didn’t get to try the polenta muffin in Bruges… and I didn’t regret my decision. The muffin was delicious, with hints of parmesan cheese and parsely in every bite. I could eat quite a few in one go, I believe. I’m hoping that they bring the polenta muffin to London too! I have to admit the salad paled in comparison to the wonderfulness of the muffin. Also, I prefer a variety of leaves in my salads, this one only used two types of salad leaves.
Smoked chicken salad, with fresh tomatoes, croutons and Parmesan shavings. The chicken was really nice, and went well with the creamy dressing provided.
I definitely enjoyed both my meals at Le Pain, and it was nice to have a different choice of food as compared to what I’m used to having in London. They have branches in quite a number of countries, so do consider visiting Le Pain Quotidien to try their food!
Le Pain Quotidien
Philip Stockstraat 21
Tél : 050 33 60 50
Rue des Sablons 11 Zavelstraat
Tél : 02 513 51 54