I’ve waited for years for Le Pain Quotidien to open a location in Orange County and now, the wait is no more. LPQ opened at Fashion Island, Newport Beach this week and I am now only 15 minutes away from a pain au chocolat or a coffee served up European style — in a bowl rather than a mug.
The decor doesn’t stray far from its other locations with a clean rustic atmosphere and the ubiquitous communal table situated in the middle of the dining room. You are welcome to purchase pastries and coffee at the front for a fast to-go service, or, if you have time to sit down and enjoy table service, that is highly recommended. After all, do like the Europeans do, take your time, enjoy a coffee and a pastry, don’t rush.
We ordered a few items to try and I was surprised I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet offerings here. I think it’s due to the fact that they’ve stuck to the original roots of keeping everything on par with the European sweetness level and haven’t bastardized it to the heavier sweeter palates of North Americans. I never order sweet breakfast items when I frequent restaurants because one or two bites later, I’m over it.
Not normally a coffee drinker, I decided I wanted one today so Cappuccino ($3.95) it is. I smiled when it arrived because it was served in a bowl like they do in France, as well as some coffee houses in Australia. The cappuccino was frothy and rather delicious. I would’ve liked another one but was not looking forward to the jittery, antsy outcome coffee always has on my system.
Tartine — an open faced sandwich Belgian-style — topped with ricotta with mission figs, organic acacia honey, and black pepper ($9.50) was simple and fulfilling.
The flavors were bold, never over-powering but still allows all the natural ingredients such as the fresh figs and strawberries, to stand on their own. Ask for extra honey, I definitely enjoyed it more with a slightly heavier drizzle. Tres magnifique!
Another sweet option was the Whole Wheat French Toast with Strawberries and Agave Nectar ($7.95). Not laden with a heavy egg wash, the toast was light and sweetened with the milder agave nectar instead of syrup. I said I only wanted a bite, but ended up eating a lot more than that.
Normally, I am a savory fiend, but on this day, the sweet offerings won me over. I liked the Goat Cheese and Asparagus Omelette ($12.50) but it wasn’t the one that stood out for me.
The accompanying bread slices were absolutely delicious, so fresh and crusty. Ask for the trio of spreads to dollop onto your bread. Apricot preserves was tart and fruity while the berry conserves was equally tasty. However, if you’re a fan of Nutella, the noisette spread, or hazelnut spread will be the one to win your heart.
I would love to return for dinner one night to try the entrees only offered after 5pm. You can buy loaves of bread too such as the baguette which, if you catch them at the right moment, comes out to you still warm to the touch.
LPQ Fashion Island also offers bread baking classes every Tuesdays and Saturdays at 5.30pm at $55 per person. Classes are limited to 6 people. Click here to book your spot.
Le Pain Quotidien
401 Newport Center Drive
#1101 (near Macy’s, next to Victoria’s Secret)
Newport Beach, CA 92660