Le Pain Quotidien

I wouldn’t often write a review for a chain but this is such a good one and I’ve been so many times! Although I usually eat at independent places because I love trying new things, there are a few cafes and restaurants which I’ll go back to time and time again, particularly in St. Albans which is a small place so sometimes we struggle for options. In my opinion, the best chains don’t really feel like chains when you’re there.. They have a menu but they’ll always have specials, each one will look different and be laid out differently so you get some of the best parts of independent places, with the good-quality guarantee of a successful chain.

Although LPQ is a chain, they don’t have a ridiculous number of branches and they’re certainly spread out enough to make each one seem special. I don’t actually think that there are any outside of London in the U.K. (I may be wrong about this but when my friends come to visit me from other cities, they’ve either never heard of it or never been!). They always have an incredible window display with huge baskets of all of their freshly baked breads and pastries. They also bake a selection of cakes and scones as well as a small deli area selling take away sandwiches, yogurt pots, honey, oils, jams and spreads.

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As expected, they have a huge variety of breads. They pride themselves on baking breads with a better nutritional alternative to conventional loaves. They use natural yeast starters and a long fermentation process to make their unique rustic loaves. Their daily selection includes wheat, rye, baguettes, 5-grain, walnut, multigrain, raisin and hazelnut flutes and french rolls -each bread is unique and delicious.. I’d never be able to pick just one, and thanks to their baker’s basket, I don’t have to. As everyone knows carbs are my favourite food group by a mile and bread in particular is a huge weakness for me, especially breads with different grains or fruit or nut fillings. The baker’s basket is my idea of heaven – it’s huge and it’s also very reasonably priced.

With the bakers basket comes butter, jam and the most incredible selection of spreads. The spreads are RIDICULOUS. Unlimited white, dark, milk chocolate, chocolate hazelnut and speculoos spreads. Yes, speculoos spread is a thing, and it’s perfect! It’s even better than the supermarket biscoff spreads!

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The jams are also delicious – I’ve tried the orange marmalade, strawberry, raspberry and fig. I always ask for all of them and I don’t hold back.. When I go with Marcus we always joke that we get our money’s worth for the entire meal alone in spreads! Once the waitress even made a comment or two (“anything else!?” and “the milk chocolate as well as the hazelnut milk chocolate!?” but I don’t care – they’re too good not to have them all 😀 Quite often there will only a few spreads out on the table so when I ask for the others I get a whole bunch of fresh jars. Is there anything better than digging your spoon into a fresh jar of chocolate spread!? I can’t recommend them enough and the best thing is you can buy them to take away!

There’s also a basket that comes with a combination of breads and pastries! I could sit there and eat them all day! 🙂

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When I go I do also get some “real” food too! Some of the meals I’ve tried include their porridge with stewed fruit, baked eggs with salmon and scrambled eggs with crispy prosciutto. They also have a selection of “tartines” – open sandwiches with a variety of amazing toppings – they have a few staple ones on the menu as well as specials at each store. The ones which I can remember trying are smoked chicken & beetroot hummus, chicken, feta & avocado and roasted veg with goats cheese – all of which are delicious. I’ve also tried a number of their hot dishes including the ham and cheddar home baked savoury tart and a couple of their seasonal specials. My favourite was the boulangers petit dejeuner (homemade west country cheddar & mustard scone, organic scrambled eggs, crispy prosciutto and slow roasted tomato) which I think is one of their current specials. The scone was perfect – warm and cheesy, spread with a thick layer of butter.. the ultimate comfort food!

Sometimes I’ll finish with a sweet item from their selection at the front of the shop if I’m not in a complete sugar/carb coma from the bread basket! I’ve tried their banoffee tart, Madeleines and cocoa pear cake! They’re perfect with a mug of coffee.. Or bowl in this case – they serve all of their teas and coffees in signature bowls and I love them 🙂

Although they’re probably best known for bread and pastries, they offer some less common items and try to use seasonal produce in their menus. A lot of their items suit those with intolerances such as dairy and gluten. They offer gluten-free breads and oats, coconut yogurt and almond milk for example, and they also do a few alternative bakes –  I’ve been wanting to try their spelt and quinoa scone for a while as it’s something a little different but last time I went they’d run out so I ended up with a normal scone (but that was delicious too – served warm with jam and whipped cream!)

I’ve never once been disappointed with something I’ve ordered from here – everything is presented beautifully and tastes so fresh.

I’ve visited quite a few of their different locations but I think my favourite one has to be the one in Canary Wharf. I’m probably biased but it’s spacious, well decorated and very conveniently located for meeting friends before or after work! For some reason I prefer sitting in a booth to at a table and they have a lot, so it never really feels cramped or rushed like it can at other places.

Would I recommend it? Yes.. And buy the spreads!!
Worth going out of your way for? I don’t think so.. much as I love it they’re still a chain and there are more exciting/unique independent places to visit
Would I go back? Yes

Link to their website: http://www.lepainquotidien.co.uk

2 thoughts on “Le Pain Quotidien

  1. I never knew that LPQ has baked eggs OoO that is amazing! I also really like their salads, especially those made with squash and whole grains! Have you tried their vegetable frittata? It’s delicious and is completely vegan!

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