A French Cafe (with an apparently Belgian name) in Pasadena, among other locations.
Chef Ludo Lefebvre once gave a very simple answer to the question of whether there was any good French food in Los Angeles.
He said “no”.
It was brutal. It was quick, and he answered it almost before the question was finished.
Knowing that, let me say up front that Le Pain Quotidien is exactly kind of place Food Bloggers screw up. What they’re going to do, and what even I did to an extent…is compare it to every other French Restaurant in the area.
Now, is that fair? No.
Did Le Pain suffer in comparison? Yes.
But to think those things, belies the point of a place like Le Pain Quotidien. The point here is to get a little something different than the rest of the mall food offerings. The point is, maybe, to raise your curiosity level about French Food and French Cooking. When looked at through those lenses, how does Le Pain Quotidien do then?
Pretty damn good.
Have I had better Ham and Gruyere Sandwiches? Yes, yes I have. Have I had a better, tastier bowl of Tomato Soup? Again, yes. But I was very glad to see Le Pain Quotidien open up shop, and I will even be gladder to see them stick around.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Well, with a brand new place, I almost instinctively order something basic and…for me…known, so I can see if they screw it up or not.
Here, I ordered a Paris Ham and Gruyere Sandwich, along with a bowl of Tomato Soup. Both were pretty good. Not the greatest thing ever, but satisfying. You could mostly taste the Tomatoes in the Soup, in that they’d been pureed up to a good degree. They may not have gotten the best tomatoes in the world, but it was pretty good. The Sandwich was also nice. It came with a nice sun dried tomato as along with a bunch of pickles and olives. It also had a small cup with three kinds of mustard in it, and I’m a sucker for good mustard.
Overall not bad. Enjoyable. Not perfect, but good.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: This may not matter to you so much, but I figure you should know this going in. Going here for lunch, you’ll be sharing the Restaurant with a lot, and I mean a LOT of young Mothers with small children. This seems to be a new favorite among that set. It’s also rests on the side of the Americana with Disney Baby and a couple of Kiddie/Baby stores nearby.
But on the good side of things, there is a bunch of outdoor seating just outside the front door, so it’s never that crowded.
PARKING: Well, first thing you should check is ye olde Old Town Pasadena Valet and Parking Map, but the best choice is really the Parking Structure on Delancey. That’ll put you around the corder from the Restaurant. Failing that, try the Schoolhouse, though that’s a couple of blocks away.
Le Pain Quotidien
88 W Colorado Blvd, Ste 102
Pasadena, CA 91105
Tel: (626) 396-0814
Mon-Thu, Sun 7 am – 7 pm
Fri-Sat 7 am – 9 pm