I’ve walked past this chain’s location on 50th Street between 6th and 7th Avenue at least 300 times on my walk from the subway to 30 Rock without even a thought of walking inside. It seemed like another Panera, a place creating quick food when you need something “healthier” and satisfying in a rush. So when my friend and I were looking for a place in the W. 60s to go to for lunch, I surprisingly found myself suggesting Le Pain Quotidien. I had searched online for lunch places, that were somewhat reasonably priced, not ethnic and good for lunch. The options were limited, leading to my ultimate decision.
We walked inside and were quickly seated in the bright, busy restaurant. I had no clue that there was waitress service and seating at this chain. It was a pleasant surprise and immediately began to separate itself in my mind from the likes of Panera.
The menu was complex, with plenty of vegetarian options for my friend, Laurel. They had lots of Tartines (open faced sandwiches), salads and quiche options. In addition, since it is a chain, there are calorie counts on the menu helping customers to make more educated decisions about their choices. Thank you Bloomberg. I ordered an iced coffee to start, while deciding what to order.
I ultimately decided on their seasonal special an Avocado “PLT” (prosciutto, lettuce and tomato). It was a total mess, but delicious.
At first. I tried to eat the tartine with my fingers, but the mess was becoming embarrassing, as pieces of prosciutto fell onto the floor and herbed dressing dripped down my fingers. I quickly switched to using a fork and knife like a lady, mixing together the bright, fresh tomato and avocado. The crisp, small pieces of prosciutto served better then bacon on this classic dish with the less smokey quality mixing well with the fresh ingredients. It definitely did the trick for a Friday lunch.
Unfortunately, our waitress was terribly slow and should hardly be employed in the field of customer service. She never brought water, took our order slowly and left us with the check for a while. So even though it was a step above self-service, I might have preferred to get my own food.
Le Pain Quotidien – 60 W. 65th Street – New York, NY