While on vacation in Washington, D.C., this past June, I heard of a neat spot called
Le Pain Quotidien that has locations in other major cities, including Chicago. Although I never ate there during my visit, I knew I had to stop into the Gold Coast location as soon as possible upon returning to Loyola.
Le Pain Quotidien (10 E. Delaware Pl.) sits only two blocks from Loyola’s Water Tower Campus, making it the perfect place to stop for lunch between classes.
Before heading in, my initial thought from viewing its website was that it was it was similar to Panera, but offering healthier organic options while still maintaining a cafe-like atmosphere. When I approached the building, there were seats outside and a sign for seating inside as well.
The interior looks like a typical restaurant due to its wooden tables and long lamps that hung from the ceiling, yet the overall environment still gives off the vibes of a cafe.
I was able to choose where I wanted to sit, and within moments a waitress was ready to take my order.
Before I sat down, I noticed a large chalkboard menu plastered behind the coffee bar. The first thing to grab my attention was the featured soup — a chilled mango gazpacho ($5.95). I knew I would opt for a bowl of that, along with one of the eye-catching tartines, which are Belgian open-faced sandwiches served on organic wheat levain.
The menu features vegan entrees, breakfast, salads, hot plates and even gluten-free options. Even though the vegan mashed avocado tartine ($9.95) and the black bean hummus tartine ($9.95) both sounded appealing, I went with the smoked salmon variety ($14.25).
My soup came to the table first and was presented simply with small strips of cucumber on top and a baguette on the side. The slightly thick texture of the soup paired perfectly with the light taste of the mango.
I decided to wait until my tartine came out to eat the rest of the soup, and I am glad I did. The smoked salmon arrived on a large piece of whole-wheat sourdough bread cut into several triangles on a platter. Avocado, radishes and cucumber slices were scattered around the toast, which were great compliments. The tartine could have been a meal for two, but it was so good that I finished it all.
The freshness of the salmon justified the expensive price for the lunch plate. Since smoked salmon is usually paired with cream cheese, the avocado was a nice change. It exceeded my expectations and tempted me to come back for breakfast very soon.
In the future, I hope to try the avocado and tomato omelette ($11.40) or the organic steel-cut oatmeal with organic bananas, nuts and maple syrup ($6.20).
The pastries displayed at the front of the store were piled on top of one another, ranging from chocolate croissants ($3.85) to vegan carrot cake ($4.10). Le Pain Quotidien doesn’t stop there, though. They also sell chocolate spreads, jams, organic granolas and antipasti.
If you’re looking for a nice lunch down in the Gold Coast neighborhood and don’t mind spending a few extra bucks, Le Pain Quotidien is the ideal option (especially if you love some wholesome, organic food).
Le Pain Quotidien’s Gold Coast location is open Monday through Sunday, 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The restaurant also has locations in Lincoln Park and West Loop.
Addie Martanovic is a contributing columnist. For more of her food reviews, check out her instagram @addiemartan or her blog, http://chickpeainthecity.org/tag/vegan/.