Le Pain Quotidien, or the daily bread is a Belgian chain that has begun to spread around the world. So far NYC, LA, and DC have the only US outposts. And now Georgetown can be The Place To Go for French-style bread/bakery stuff.
If it wasn't such a spectacular sunny but mild day, we could have sat inside at the large communal table. To many dining around us on the adorable (and spacious) patio, the place seemed more like Le Pain in the Tush. Service was admittedly slow, simple lunches took a long time to arrive, and no one was quite sure how to pay and get out of there. It was confusing--when we walked in we saw a small line, and assumed that at 12:30 that would be a line for sitting. Nope, that's for takeout. You seat yourself at Le Pain Quotidien, and then anxiously (if you're me) hope that a server notices that you've arrived and are indeed new! In need of menu! Starving!
The good news is that the food was mostly good. They translate tartines to simply "sandwich" on the menu, which may be the reason why some people furrowed their brows when their plates arrived. The tasty herbed roasted turkey sandwich consisted of 5 tiny triangles of thinly sliced wheat bread topped with a a thin layer of turkey and a squirt of dill mayo. The curried chicken salad was the same, but more generous with the topping. I was curious about how to go about using the cranberry sauce on the side, and ended up awkwardly spreading it on top of the chicken salad. Open-faced sandwiches create some problems! The black bean soup was watery and lacked flavor. The chamomile mint iced tea had the some problem--it tasted exactly like water.
When I go back to LPQ, I'm going to make it brunch. The blackboard out front boasted a goat cheese and asparagus omelet, but you've got to arrive before 12pm.
The best part about the meal, hands down, was the slice of baguette that came with the soup. It was absolutely fabulous, crusty and chewy, and all that a baguette was meant to be. There were some interesting looking salads, but I was hungry and felt like a smallish $12 sandwich wasn't going to pack the punch that I needed to keep going. And don't leave without getting something from the bakery--the chocolate chip cookie is great, as is the Belgian brownie.
Overall, I prefer the quicker and more reliable service at La Madeleine for now, but LPQ has only been open a week or so. There's more time!
Le Pain Quotidien
2815 M Street NW
Metro: Foggy Bottom or DC Circulator to Georgetown