Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Restaurant Review: Le Pain Quotidien

Restaurant choices for vegans in the area surrounding City Center, Carnegie Hall, and Columbus Circle are few and far between, with the emphasis being on upscale meat-based cuisines and ridiculously overpriced diners, which is often a nuisance for this vegan culturalist. The solution I have recently come upon is Le Pain Quotidien on 58th and 7th, which does serve meat but which has a number of tasty vegan options and clearly labels which items are vegan. This restaurant has multiple locations all over the city, but doesn't come off like a "chain."Most of the food is also organic, they are health-conscious enough not to serve soda, the wine is tasty, and the ambiance is very nice (I like the rustic wood decor). Additionally, considering the area, the prices are pretty reasonable. And, as one might expect, the bread is sublime. 

I had an avocado and chick pea tartine (basically an open-faced sandwich) on whole grain bread-- pureed avocado, very flavorful bread, not many chickpeas. A few tomato and cucumber bits garnished the sandwich. (It was so yummy I ate it before I remembered to take a picture.)

I was still hungry after eating it so I tried some of my mom's vegan lentil stew (I usually don't order soup in restaurants unless they are 100 percent vegan but this place is nice enough to be clear about what contains meat and what doesn't, unlike a lot of establishments).
The stew was thick, with very little liquid, lightly spiced, tomatoey-- a little Indian flavor. Very tasty.

I finished off with riz au lait for dessert, made with brown rice + soy milk. It was very unsweet-- too bland for a dessert. The fresh berry topping was the highlight. I like my own better, but it was nice to have a dessert available (my other option would have been a vegan cannelle, which is sort of a mini-muffin.)

After seeing a concert at Carnegie, I finished the evening at the Russian Tea Room, where there is absolutely nothing for a vegan to eat (and little for vegetarians), but the drinks, while expectedly exorbitant, are divine. The From Russia With Love, a mix of chocolate liqueur, Chambord, and champagne was a delectable end to a lovely evening.

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