Thursday, June 7, 2012

Where to Brunch: Le Pain Quotidien

Brunch in D.C. is often a gloriously gluttonous affair, marked by languorous lounging and prolonged imbibing.  Who among us doesn't daydream about it during a slow work day -- the company of friends on a sunny patio, the wind in your hair, a pitcher (or five) of freshly made mimosas at your fingertips.  That might just be me.  I really love brunch.

While such gatherings arguably represent brunch in its purest, most ideal form, sometimes a "functional brunch" is in order.  That's not a real thing- I just made it up a minute ago- but here's what I mean:

There are days when, for whatever reason, a long, boozy brunch just isn't in the cards.  Maybe it's a miserably rainy day and you want a quick bite to eat before catching a movie at the E Street theater.  Maybe your girlfriend's out of town and you want to go somewhere where you can sit by yourself and read the paper over a croissant without feeling judged.  Maybe you're a grad student who can only spare an hour for gossip and quiche before getting back to the books and bemoaning your life choices.

Bart: Look at me, I'm a grad student.  I'm 30 years old and I made $600 last year.
Marge: Bart, don't make fun of grad students.  They've just made a terrible life choice.

Le Pain Quotidien is an international chain of Belgian cafes with nine locations in the D.C. area.  The interior is quaint and sort of rustic, with plentiful seating that includes a trademark communal table in each restaurant, and service that is polite and prompt.

The menu features traditional brunch classics like omelets and waffles, a large selection of delectable looking pastries and other bakery treats, and  quite a few lighter options like salads, soups and tartines.  While perusing the menu on a recent visit to the Dupont location, my vegetarian heart fluttered with joy; those on vegan and gluten-free diets will surely find that they have plenty of items to choose from, too.

One downside to Le Pain Quotidien is that their food is a tad pricey for what it is; my arugula salad with lentils and avocado, while delicious, was a bit steep at $12, though there are options on the menu that are more reasonably priced.  Le Pain Quotidien does pride itself on using organic and farm-fresh ingredients whenever possible, which helps explain the high prices given the rather casual atmosphere.

Even with that, fewer spots are better for a functional brunch.  And in case you need more convincing, I leave you with this picture of fresh bread and chocolate spread.  It's organic, so that means it's basically healthy, right?



  1. This post is hilarious. Also, jam and nutella are brought to every table and they're FREE!

  2. I'm a fan! I like to go there also for brunch dates where my date doesn't want to drink alcohol first thing in the day... Okay, that's actually just theoretical so far... But in THEORY.