Bryant Park Le Pain Quotidien Sandwich Size Puts ‘wichcraft to Shame
Le Pain Quotidien, the bread/sandwich/salad/bakery chain from Brussels, quietly opened its second Midtown location back in October on 40th St. btw. 5+6th, across from Bryant Park. It probably wasn’t all that quiet to LPQ fans in the area, but for this hater of expensive Midtown bread/sandwich/salad/bakery chains it went virtually unnoticed. After Profiled Midtown Lunch’er Janine mentioned it last Tuesday, I thought maybe it was time to go check it out. While I normally detest paying over $7 for a sandwich, if it’s done right- with really nice ingredients, I will occasionally splurge for something really good. ‘wichcraft has managed to rope me in despite having tiny sandwiches. LPQ will have to a little better to lure me away from my goto Bryant Park lunch.
Two sandwiches attempt to be worth $9, and the biggest cookie in Midtown- after the jump…
When you enter the Bryant Park location of Le Pain Quotidien you have two options. Stay to the right, and end up sitting down in the restaurant part of the operation, which is decidedly out of the Midtown Lunch price range. Or you can get on line to the left, and take something to go. They have 3 to-go menus written out on blackboards for you to choose from. We instantly ignored the salad board, which actually had the audacity to feature a $14 cobb salad. All I have to say is that bacon better have been coated in more expensive bacon to warrant that price.
The other two blackboards feature a list of sandwiches. For $7.50 you can get any number of baguettes, including paris ham with gruyere, roast beef with parmesan and pesto, grilled chicken or a simple brie with cranberry chutney. To the right of that is a list of tartines, or open faced sandwiches, which when ordered to go are served closed face. Made with wheat bread, these sandwiches are $8.50 to $9.50. I liked the choices, but hated the price… so it was all going to come down to two things- taste and size. ‘wichcraft, which has a location across the street in Bryant Park, uses really great ingredients, in really interesting combos- but the sandwiches are notoriously tiny. I was pretty interested in seeing what LPQ was going to offer (and fully prepared to be angry.)
Surprisingly both of the tartines we ordered were a really good size. They use very large slices of pretty delicious wheat bread, and then cut them into 3 parts (each almost the size of a full sandwich at ‘wichcraft.) I really love curry chicken salad (one of the reasons I was even willing to try out LPQ), and this version was interesting. Not sweet at all (a quality that will probably fan just as many fans as detractors), it benefited enormously from the addition of the cranberry chutney they included in the box. Really tasty, and filling with a nice curry flavor.
But the real star of the day was the ricotta tartine with mission fig, black pepper and honey. As big as the curry chicken sandwich, the sweet honey mixed with the creamy ricotta made this more like dessert than a lunch sandwich. Amazing. And it put to shame the $9 goat cheese and avocado sandwich at ‘wichcraft- both in size and taste.
There is one final reason to LPQ and that is the largest chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever seen in Midtown. At $3 it will put you over the Midtown Lunch price limit, so it’s best saved for a late afternoon snack, or as a dessert to a cheaper lunch somewhere else. At about 5 inches wide, pretty thin, and crunchy more than soft, it’s not the best cookie in Midtown, but super tasty nonetheless and worth the money when you account for size. Plus you can’t put a price on the looks you’ll get from your co-workers when you return from lunch and whip out the biggest cookie they’ve ever seen. (I don’t know if the photo does it justice, but it is gasp worthy… although hopefully I’m not building it up too much.)
LPQ will not make everyone happy, and it’s still slightly upsetting to spend $10 and just get a sandwich (no drink or chips or nothin’), but every once in awhile it’s nice to eat some quality food at Midtown Lunch’ish prices. Having Bryant Park across the street isn’t too shabby either.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Quality ingredients, really nice flavor combinations
- If you like wheat bread, you’ll love the tartines
- The honey and ricotta combo is amazing
- The sandwiches are bigger than ‘wichcraft
- I love curry chicken salad (especially when it’s not sweet)
- Tartines comes with a few pieces of fruit too
- You can take your food right across the street to Bryant Park
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- I ain’t paying $10 for a sandwich unless it comes with fries and a drink or something!
- It’s too expensive
- For that price I’d rather have a hot sandwich from ‘wichcraft. These sandwiches are all cold.
- The curry chicken salad has too much mayo, and isn’t sweet
- The only seating for the cheaper take out menu are tables without chairs at the front of the restaurant
Le Pain Quotidien, 70 West 40th Street (btw. 6+7th.) 212 354 5224
There is another location on 7th Ave. & 58th St. Do they have the same menu? Comment below if you’ve been…