MyRye.com's restaurant columnist Diana Tapper tells us what just filled "The Gap" in downtown Rye.
At this point, not entirely a "news" item as Le Pain Quotidien has been open since the beginning of July, but for those who haven't checked it out, make a point to stop by their new location in the center of Rye for their fresh breads, inventive tartines (sandwiches), healthy salads and decadent desserts.
Many residents have been eagerly awaiting PQ's arrival, with their organic foods, environmentally friendly philosophy, and focus on health.
It's generally easiest to find a spot along one of their two communal tables – reclaimed from wooden train rails – although a fair number of tables for two (which can be pushed together for larger tables) are clustered in the back and side of the restaurant. Definitely don't leave before sampling some of the breads with their caddy of toppings, including jellies and the must-have hazelnut spread – like nutella without the chocolate.
The food proved fresh and delicious during the two lunches I've enjoyed so far. The gazpacho is the perfect antidote for a hot sticky day, with a fresh-out-of-the-garden tang. Their 6-vegetable "quiche" – while a misnomer given its tag as one of the many vegan items on the list – is perfect for the vegetable lover. It's more like a terrine with brightly colored layers of softly cooked vegetables. And those who have heard about the virtues of vitamin and protein-packed quinoa but have never tried it can do so here with little risk – it's delicious and nutty and only $8.95.
PQ offers a number of other salads as well as tartines, ranging in price from $6.75 for the seaweed salad (which many love but I've never understood) to $15.95 for the shrimp salad. Haven't made it to breakfast yet, but it seems hard to go wrong based on the pastry offerings as well as the breakfast specials scrawled on PQ's large chalkboard along the side wall. Unfortunately I always see them too late in the day to order them.
They seem to be working out some kinks in the service, but granted, it is still early. Both times, it took much longer than reasonable for our food to come out, especially since our order consisted of all uncooked items (about 45 minutes for gazpacho, a cheese plate and quinoa salad on our first visit). For now, it is not the place to go when you are in a rush. The kitchen appears to be the bottleneck, having the responsibility of finishing the cooking for the par baked goods delivered daily from PQ's Long Island commissary. The servers try their best but at times seem to be still getting the hang of it themselves. During our 45 minute wait and losing the battle in placating a hungry 1 and 4 year old, I asked for bread (the typical magical cure) and was met with a quizzical look from our server. Funny, I didn't think asking for bread at a place with "bread" in its name to be such an odd request. I ultimately went to the takeout counter and bought a brioche and snagged a few mini muffins that they were ironically giving out for free. With all the tempting pastry options there, it was hard to not buy more.
The bussing staff, however, hustles, with plates cleared efficiently, and the water I accidentally knocked over in my quest for the brioche was cleaned up quickly without making me feel too terrible or klutzy.
Unfortunately I couldn't stay for dessert either time, but the NYC law requiring calorie count would have put a damper on my desire for the chocolate chip cookie at 670 calories. It didn't, however, dissuade me from buying the hazelnut spread, available for purchase along with many of their other products like jellies, jams, and coffee. Thankfully, the container listed calories in metric units, and without the desire to convert into a system I understand, I blissfully remain in the dark as to how indulgent it really is.
Le Pain Quotidien is open 7 days a week: Monday – Thursday: 7:30am-9pm, Friday 7:30am-10pm, Saturday 8am-10pm and Sunday 8am-8pm.
They will do catering and there is takeout, but no delivery.
Le Pain Quotidien, 30 Purchase Street, 967-1460