With a plethora of new restaurants in Old Towne Alexandria seemingly popping up like the blooming flowers we see each spring, it’s hard to discern whether the quaint exteriors of centuries-old buildings tastefully masquerades a lovely dining experience -- or a huge waste of time and money.
Le Pain Quotidien masquerades nothing but exceptional food and service.
The souvenir business card from the restaurant quickly explains the history behind the restaurant as well as the name. Founded by a young man from Brussels, who grew up loving the art of baking and opened his own bakery there, Alain Coumont named his restaurant the French translation for “the daily bread” since it was his desire to perfect a bread recipe, which began his entrepreneurial career.
Nestled in the heart of Old Town Alexandria -- right off King Street and near the bustling intersection with Duke -- I walked in and was transported into a scene from an art house love story. The walls are bricks colored a rich, mixed shade of burnt orange and the inside of a pommegrande. Thick straps of oak flooring nicely anchored the wrought-iron staircase and balustrade.
We went upstairs to eat and happily nestled in the far corner.
Our waitress promptly greeted us and was quite charming. Seeing us pour over our two menus, she exclaimed, “We have two other menus as well,” and went off to retrieve them for our review. (What she didn’t realize was our delay was not due to our attention but, rather, the lack thereof -- we were just chatting up a storm!)
Eventually, we looked through all the menus and managed to order.
I requested an organic granola and yogurt parfait with fresh fruit. Absolutely delicious, with or without my request for a side of some honey to mix in. The yogurt was slightly chilled, and the fruit was completely dry, utterly moist and quite fresh. I was even more pleasantly surprised to see how the layers of yogurt and fruit did not mix with the granola, something most of my parfaits fail to do.
My brunch companion ordered an omelet. When served, he exclaimed, “Where is the rest of it?” It was rather small and his observation made me laugh. He charmingly repeated his comment for the server who was equally amused -- so much so she even gave him a chocolate croissant on the house!
Sadly, my sole complaint would have to be the coffee is not offered with free refills; however, it did come in a charming bowl with its own tiny serving pot.
I will, no doubt, be returning for a sample of the dessert menu as well as the dinner menu, and I certainly suggest you do so as well for any meal: breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or even just coffee and dessert.
Le Pain Quotidien
701 King Street
Alexandria, Va. 22314