Bryant Park Le Pain Quotidien Sandwich Size Puts ‘wichcraft to Shame

Le Pain Quotidien

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… 

Le Pain Quotidien

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.

Le Pain Quotidien
Le Pain QuotidienThe 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.)

 Le Pain Quotidien

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.

Le Pain Quotidien

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. 

Le Pain Quotidien

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…


  • @ESNY

    LBQ= $3

    Hot ‘N Crusty = $2.05

    French joint abutting Cinnabon = $1.95

    The latter two give you a choice of at least 5 varieties

    You do the math.

    I’m more surprised Rudy didn’t comment on (or be labeled with) the Hot N’ Crusty moniker than the dodgy ciphering acumen.

  • OK, as a Belgian, I am totally biaised: I simply love this place. It’s simple and very good, great quality product. The tartines are very nice. I would be curious to taste the baguettes I saw on the blackboard on the picture – btw, they were cheaper than what you choose. ;)
    They are quickly growing and have more than two locations around town (probably not mentionable here as not in Midtown) but yes, the menu is pretty similar. As it is in Los Angeles too.
    I no longer try the salads: they are terrific but way too big. Hence the price, I guess.
    In the winter, you can also have a delicious soup.

  • I am guilty of eating at LPQs from New York to Claremont, California.
    I love their breads, spreads, sandwiches (particularly their vegan faux-meat sandwiches). I detest the fact that every single store looks the same. How many Belgian farmhouses do we need in the world?

  • We have 2 (that I know of) LPQ’s here in Los Angeles. The menus and store setups are exactly the same. LPQ has never disappointed in taste and service. The price, as you noted, is a bit high for a lunch, but always worth it.

  • F ‘wichcraft and any other restaurant that has crap^h^h^h craft in its name. Pretentious, overpriced skimpy offerings, I tell ya!

  • Zach – I have a complaint. I have been going to my nearest LPQ (this one on 40th and 6th) and I love everything I have gotten from there. I think the baguette sandwiches are a great deal at 7.50 ( i love the chicken with herb dressing) but lately I have not been able to get one of these. My lunch is a bit later in the day (2:30 PM) but the last 4 times I have gone there, they never have any baguettes left. I really do not understand this as they are a BAKERY as well. How do you run out of the basic ingredients? If they are going to keep operating in this busy part of Manhattan, I really think they need to plan better at keeping themselves stocked or I will just give up and never go back.

  • Stephanie,

    It’s not that we’re totally unsympathetic but the deadbeat won’t even pay the Sugo bill so don’t count on him moving this too far up on his list.

  • hah thanks Bossman :) I think that is hilarious about the Sugo bill. It gave me a laugh the other day. Now I have to decide what I want to eat today! It is too dang hot!

  • Hope you don’t mind, I borrowed your pic. (With credit and link.) I like your post. I will pay the extra at PQ too for certain things. Like the apple almond tart. $5. A must-eat. The almond paste is so delicious.

  • anyone seent he LPQ they are creating in the center of midtown?!?!?!
    I forget where i saw it..range of 52nd – 56th and 6th-Madison…

    I am a huge fan and cannot for the doors to be open!!!

  • A little to pricey for my taste, but the cookie looks good.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Just had the Chicken And Smoked Mozzarella with Caper Mayo and it was goooooooooood! Totally worth 7.50!

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