|In a word: Homely|
|Food: A nice selection of freshly prepared mainly European cafe-style dishes, mostly healthy (except the deliciously naughty looking tarts and pastries) to suite pretty much all palettes|
|Service: Very well trained, although a little slow to deliver drinks and food at times|
|Presentation: Just food on a plate, nothing too complicated|
|Ambience: A European homely feel, especially nice if you’re not used to the real thing.|
|Location: All the convenience of a mall location, and plenty of other branches across Dubai|
|Value for money: Standard Dubai/London cafe prices|
|Worth a visit?: A perfectly good option, especially if you’re in the mall and you fancy a healthy freshly prepared option, bar those aforementioned tarts!|
Le Pain Quotidien has grown on me. With an ethos around organics and sustainability, Le Pain Quotidien should have rated much higher on my radar, however, when we first moved to Dubai I had a few disappointing experiences there; portion size issues and serving soup in a bread bowl…yes, I know, soup in a bread bowl isn’t unique to Le Pain Quotidien, but it’s something that turns me off, big time. These first unsatisfactory experiences left bad taste and I boycott Le Pain Quotidien altogether.
That is until a branch opened up in Marina Mall and whilst on the hunt for an easy to find alternative to my regular haunt, I ended up breathing deep, practising forgiveness and venturing through the doors again. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.
A bit of background, La Pain Quotidien was founded in 1990 by Alain Coumont, a chef craving a wholesome loaf with those ‘crunchy on the outside soft on the inside’ qualities. Unable to find this type of bread locally, he decided to set up a bakery baking loaves just like this in Brussels. La Pain Quotidien’s emphasis is on their bread and ‘home-baked’ treats, take home pantry items from chocolate spread to granola to capers, and a desire to reinforcing a sense of community by offering the opportunity for communal eating at one of their large share tables. I’m not sure the community thing works, but it’s a nice idea!
Le Pain Quotidien has proper organic and sustainability ethos’s, however, i’m not quite certain that these have been translated properly in Dubai. Le Pain Quotidien’s website mentions sustainable and organic sources for both their food and furniture, using energy efficient lighting, eco building materials…certainly the latter isn’t followed in Dubai where the spaces are in pre-existing buildings and they would have no influence on the materials used.
I’m also not 100% convinced by Le Pain Quotidien’s organic-credentials, in the UAE they certainly don’t shout about supporting local organic producers, unlike other eateries who are proud to support local farms, but maybe it’s just off my radar. Certainly, the pantry goods sold in store aren’t produced in the UAE, so they’ll have clocked up a few airmiles getting on the shelves, not so good for the planet.
On the food front, Le Pain Quotidien offers a range of salads and sandwiches, with soups (served in a bread bowl!), sharing plates, breakfasts and main meal options, together with the usual coffee, tea and juices. They also have a range of specials that change from time to time, although in the last six months, I’ve not seen a change in the special menu.
A little platter of wholemeal bread as a filler whilst you wait for your meal keeps you going as you wait for your main. The bread’s pretty good here and you can ask for a dense wholemeal or a light fluffy French farmhouse loaf.
I have a few, ok, one, go to dish when I visit Le Pain Quotidien, which I have morning, noon or night and that’s the Detox Salad from the special menu. This dish is crunchy pile of healthy goodness topped off with a warm pile of quinoa, with a light zesty lemon vinaigrette. The crunch comes from a mix of beansprouts, cabbage, carrot, mung beans and avocado (ok, not too much crunch from those two). The Detox Salad is a perfect antidote to over indulgences of the festive season or for the morning after a brunch! I like to add a side of avocado just to make sure I’m getting my hit of omega’s or maybe some halloumi to pimp it out and make it a little less detoxy! This salad is the closest thing I’ve found to the beautiful salads I ate whilst in Bali, however, the dressing isn’t a patch on the Balinese beauties and I usually ask for it on the side to prevent drowning or avoid it altogether.
Le Pain Quotidien’s Greek Salad is a good serve of all things salady; a serve of leaves, chunky chopped veggies, black olives with a pile of feta to top it off. The Mixed Mezze Platter is a nice sharer of little bowls of halloumi, hummus, moutabbal, foul (beans) and bread. Simple and tasty, but maybe just a little bit too small to have on it’s own as a sharer.
The Rustic Tuna and Hummus tartine, or open sandwich as you or I would know it, with chickpeas and spring onion is a filling option too. I like hummus. I sometimes like tuna. So if I’m craving a bit of meaty fish, then this is a goer for me.
The watermelon cooler and lemon and mint juices are both thirst quenching, the latter being a fab zing for your taste buds.
I have it on good authority that Le Pain Quotidien’s Chocolate Éclairs are pretty darn good…in fact too good to share!
Le Pain Quotidien have invested in training their wait staff to a very high standard sometimes they’re a little bit over the top with it (i’m thinking Disneyland over the top!), but I shouldn’t knock them for trying, as they get it right and they do try hard, which is a breath of fresh air when compared with some other eateries.
Delivery of drinks and food lets the service down a little, we waited 15 or so minutes for drinks and another 20 minutes on top of that for two salads, which considering in the place wasn’t busy was a little annoying asI was hungry.
The food looks great here, not overly fussy and presented on good’ol creamy white crockery, a wooden board, or platters for the sharing dishes.
With walls lined with jars of pantry goodies amongst old looking books, pine furniture, inviting-looking worn leather arm chairs, glass displays full of pastries and other sweet treats, and racks of interesting-looking loaves of bread, Le Pain au Quotidien has a homely, warm and welcoming feel.
I do love the displays of all the preserves, oils, spreads, pickled things and whatever else they’ve rammed into jars or bottles along the walls, and they’ve done a very nice point of displaying all their dangerously delicious desserts, pastries, tarts and breads to entice you.
Value for money:
You’ll find pretty standard café prices here at Le Pain Quotidien, but portion sizes are generally good* and if they are serving what they say they’re serving – organic – then I’d definitely not sniff at the prices: salads for between AED 40 and 50, tartines around AED 40.
*One of my first visits to Le Pain Quotidien was ruined (sounds dramatic!) by the size of the Farmhouse Frittata portion – it was meagre to say the least – about an 8th of a frittata. Which is fine if you’re dieting, but when it’s my breakfast (THE most important meal of the day), don’t go skimping on my portion size. You have been warned!
So, portion-wise, it’s a bit hit and miss, the detox salad will definitely fill you up, and there is always plenty of bread on offer if you still have a gap after your meal, or perhaps one of those glistening desserts on show at the front on the restaurant.Overall, it’s a good option if your in the mall, hunger strikes and you’re in need of a healthy salad.
Lower Ground Floor, Dubai Marina Mall, Dubai, UAE
Tel: Dubai Marina Mall +971 (0) 4441 2827
Opening hours – check by calling a location for details