Mar 19, 2012

Le Pain Quotidien, Soho, London.

Sometimes you really do have to travel so far for something so near.  Le Pain Quotidien, Soho, London is actually part of a multinational chain of boulangeries, three of which can be found in Sydney (none of which I"ve been to though I'm thinking now that I need to address this).  To totally confuse matters, there is also a LPQ in Soho, New York City.  The name translates to 'The Daily Bread' and began as a bakery in Belgium with an emphasis on organic ingredients and artisan baking.

The Soho outlet was cozy and inviting and its staff so welcoming.  It had the cafe chain feel completely purged from it - the menu board was handwritten, there were no flashing lights or large signs.  That's what I did notice whilst in London.  Despite the city being a tourist hub, signage on the street and store fronts were all very sympathetic to the history of the city.  Discrete neon signs (if that isn't a contradiction in terms) identified stores at street level, with the window displays being the area where retailers were allowed to brand with abandon.

In the early morning, all was softly lit and quiet.  The trademark communal table sat quietly, awaiting the first wave of morning customers.

A cookbook lay open on a stand, waiting to be read.

Shelves around the store were filled with cooking supplies and china, all looking for a good home.

The bare wood tables were laden with jam.  The rain and grey skies outside probably had a lot to do with this, but stepping inside Le Pain Quotidien was like stepping into a country cottage.  I wonder if the Australian outlets are as charmingly decorated?

Despite our being the first customers of the day, the shelves were already full of the day's breads.

The glass cabinets  already had cakes and croissants within them.

I had no idea what to order for breakfast, so I sipped my cup of coffee to see if it held the answer.  I am sorely regretting not bringing a bowl like mug home with me.

Outside, the morning commuters were on their way to work.  Well rugged up passing foot traffic found it hard to resist a sample from the bakery ovens.

Porridge with honey and berries.

What an inspired breakfast choice.  Organic porridge.  My breakfast for every day I'd been in London so far.  My dedication to the warm and slightly mushy grain inspired Mr SSG because he decided to have a bowl as well.

My porridge with banana, honey and mint leaves.  
As a newly minted (what a pun) porridge connoisseur, I highly rate the porridge.  It was creamy, filling and simply flavoured with just enough honey.

Because it wouldn't be breakfast on holiday without ordering (and eating) too much, we shared a ham and cheese croissant. Which came with a sprightly side salad and mustards.  The croissant was buttery and had a good flake.  The hams and cheeses of foreign countries always taste so good to me.

Almost like being in Paris but without the unpleasant surprise of a huge bill for eating in at a table as opposed to standing at the counter...

It was about then that I decided that I was ready for the rest of the day to unfold.  Isn't it magic having the luxury of both time and so much to do with it whilst on holiday?  London is such a wonderful place to briskly walk through after a large meal.  The buildings of the main streets do their best to conceal the lane ways and inward facing terraces behind them, but the eagle eyed get good at spotting the hidden pockets of London life.

We found Carnaby Street that morning.

Just as it was waking up for another day.

Le Pain Quotidien on Urbanspoon


  1. Nanne_MyFavouriteThingsMarch 19, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    Looks like a lovely place to have breakfast:) Oatmeal porridge is actually one of my favourite breakfasts, I have it almost every day! Haven't tried it with honey, though, I usually just add a little vanillla. Love reading your London postst!

  2. Sigh. I miss London... Hmmmm... One in Sydney you say? x

  3. Leanne Shea LangdownMarch 20, 2012 at 6:38 AM

    I've got to stop reading you before breakfast.  Now I NEED bread in my life whereas 10 minutes ago that banana in my fruit bowl was looking pretty good.  LOL. 

  4. I've been to Le Pain Quotidien in New York (Columbus Circle/Lincoln Center not Soho though) and LPQ is lovely! Not too expensive, good quality, a chain but still has a personality and contributes and respects the community as opposed to sucking community identity and homogenizing the neighborhood. :)

  5. Oooooh, think I have found a place to carb load prior to the london marathon in a few short weeks time!

  6. For maximum carb loading, go to Cinnabon as well!

    SSG xxx

  7. Good to know, Tracy.  LPQ have a good feel about them.  I will visit a Sydney one soon.

    SSG xxx

  8. Honey is magic with porridge.

    SSG xxx

  9. Sorry to have lead you astray....

    SSG xxx

  10. I love Le Pain! i discovered it when I was in NYC as it was one of the only places that had decent coffee + pastry. I loved their Belgium waffles! Similarly to you, after the discovery overseas, I sought out the local Le Pain cafes - and so far I haven't found same the "wow" factor


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