Somebody carries a torch for Le Pain Quotidien around here. I want you to know that this was not all me; my co-anchor, who works downtown and likes getting out of the office for lunch, abetted my madness.
I was jubilant at the opening of an very vegan-savvy and mostly organic chain on Walnut St. I attend yoga or pilates nearby a few times a week and I was just waiting for a respectable coffeehouse and healthy lunch destination for yoga buddy lunch dates and many a rendezvous with Mr. Phillips.
So where to start? Let's begin with the favorites thus far and work our way down.
I'm a lover of the communal table (Talula's, Fork Etc.) and this one is no exception. I'm also big on the fact that they will serve alcohol (coming soon) and an evening menu (featuring Seared Organic Tofu* with brussels sprouts, raisins, spicy tahini and lapsang vinaigrette).
The Asian Organic Tofu Salad with slaw and miso dressing is easily a front runner on my top salads list. Right now, I'm obsessed with all things slaw - cool, crunchy, colorful, fibrous and snappy with vinegar. Add a pile of slaw to anything and it's instantly remarkable. For 160 calories, I left full, but it does come with a side of bread.
For $12.50, I've had a better salad, but you can't exactly find this offering at any regular cafe, now can you? So, they've got me hooked if I happen to be downtown. (Similarly, the Veg Salad at Koo Zee Doo in Northern Liberties is my favorite at $12, for a larger portion, with more interesting bread and the wonderful charm that has no price).
My next choice would be the Vegan Riz Au Lait - a rice pudding made with soy milk and agave nectar. For breakfast or dessert, it is a sweet, thick pudding that is substantially filling (which is why I say breakfast). This is Vegan Pudding Luxury.
The pastry case had Hazelnut Flutes and Apple Cannelles (both vegan), but it also had this looker of a Vegan Carrot Muffin. I was hoping to find a blueberry, but the carrot was pro. Even this day-old muffin that I purchased yesterday was still moist with juicy raisins and a glorious top. A little sweet, but perhaps just right with a Soy Latte Bowl? The soy lattes are excellent.
This Warm Fingerling Potato Salad that I made at home was accompanied by a Spelt Loaf that I picked up from Le Pain. Philly is a bread town and I must say, this is not quite as amazing as some our local vendors (Metropolitan, Four Worlds, Parc) but that may be in part because they are shipping it in from a DC location. It's still very good and the bread loaves are generous.
Mister commented that his Avocado Tartine was a bit bland but that the Black Bean Soup Special was good.
We were both a little surprised by prices, some of which are reasonable, and others that seem oddly steep. Makes you feel like you really are in New York...
I've yet to try the tartines, but I'm hoping to like them, because so far I've been pleased. The Oatmeal and the Harvest Porridge are next on my list.
Have you found love at Le Pain?
Le Pain Quotidien, 1425 Walnut Street
Menu at Menupages