Signage announcing the upcoming Belgian bakery and café has been up for months. Situated directly across from La Brea Bakery inside Macy*s, one can't help but wonder what makes Le Pain Quotidien any different from La Brea -- or any comparable brand, for that matter. According to our recent preview, lots.
Let's look at it from a numbers perspective. Luh paN koh-ti-dyaN is a first in our orange bubble. It's the second in the brand's 150-plus locations worldwide to include a customized, fishbowl-view, on-site bakery (Bleeker Street, New York, has the other). Head baker Jon Eng will soon be conducting three-hour, hands-on baking classes for artisan chefs of all ages.
A feature that will make its restaurant neighbors jealous:
the 400-square-foot patio with a view of the Pacific. It has an organic five-grain featuring oats, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and flaxseeds. And by 6 p.m., we were carbed-out.
It seats approximately 170 diners. General Manager Kaylyn Crawford was on-hand to discuss the seasonal menu, which also accommodates meatless diets (see: the pear, walnut and Belgian endive salad with an apple-pear reduction). Unfamiliar with the brand, I was surprised by the long communal table down the center of the rustic dining area, as well as the beer options of Stella Artois and Hoegaarden.
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"The daily bread" will be made fresh each morning, with mini-croissants for brekkie and wheat bread for the tartine (open-faced) sandwiches the company is known for. Our preferred selection was the chicken curry salad, with a harissa-cranberry chutney. The opening is scheduled for some time next week, but definitely before the Share Our Strength fund-raiser on Oct. 27. Challah!
Le Pain Quotidien is located at 1103 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, within Fashion Island's Pacific Court. It will be open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. For more details, visit www.lepainquotidien.us.