With an abundance of vegan-friendly lunch options now available with the Westgate Shopping Centre opening, Le Pain Quotidien had certainly been on my list of places to check out, so I was happy to finally get round to visiting with my friend Lucy for a catch up last weekend. Inside the front entrance is an enticing display of breads, jams and spreads, and sweet and savoury treats, much of which is vegan. You can either grab a muffin and a cuppa to go, or wait to be seated in the restaurant area.
After we were seated, I ordered an oat milk hot chocolate, and me being a sucker for a gimmick, I loved pouring the mini jug of liquid chocolate into my frothy bowl of milk when it arrived. It was the best hot chocolate I’ve had out at a chain cafe, certainly indulgent, and I’ll be coming here from now on to get my chocolate fix. Lucy ordered a raspberry lemonade which looked like it’d be perfect for summer (though we’re not quite there yet) and she enjoyed the flavours too.
I had looked at the menu online a while ago but Le Pain Quotidien’s menu changes every three months to feature seasonal ingredients and recipes, and there were lots of things on the printed menu that sounded new to me. I definitely didn’t realise quite how many vegan options there were and it took absolutely ages to come to a decision about what to order. In the end, I landed on the cauliflower and butternut curry. This came served with a mango chutney and buckwheat. What arrived was a beautiful, mild and fragrant bowl of warming curry, packed with veggies. It had to be at least three of my five a day in one go. The aromatic mango chutney was miles better than a jar you’d grab off the supermarket and added a nice fresh element, lifting up the dish. I spread it on my bread like jam and dipped in the curry, and though definitely not gaining any points for etiquette myself, I was living the dream.
Lucy ordered the vegan chilli, which again looked so enticing when it was put down on the table. The bowl was served with guacamole, soya sour cream, and more crusty fresh bread. Lucy eats meat and said she probably wouldn’t have known this chilli was vegan if it hasn’t been labelled up as such, and that it was really good. The same as with my curry, it looked super wholesome and comforting.
We also ordered a side of beetroot houmous, mainly because we were keen to try Le Pain Quotidien’s bread and didn’t realise both of our mains came with some already. We didn’t get started on this until we’d polished off our main courses and were pretty full by this point, but we had a good go at it. The houmous was vibrant, packed a powerful sweet beetroot punch, and I would have finished the plate off had I not been so greedy with the rest of my order. As you can see from the photo, despite the dishes being labelled vegan, we were given a portion of butter (and this was the case with our mains too) but at least it was wrapped up and we could return it to the kitchen.
Of course we had to leave a tiny cake sized hole in our stomachs for pudding. There are a number of vegan fresh cakes displayed at the front of the store which I’d eyed before we’d even sat down, and me and Lucy decided to share the chocolate cake. Lucy said you wouldn’t know this was vegan either, and it certainly was like any other good decadent chocolate cake. The soft cake was topped with an almost equal quantity of the thick chocolate ganache. I could take or leave the granola but it looked pretty and the flavour overall was lovely. My eyes were bigger than my tummy so I took a blueberry muffin home for later. The sugary top was deliciously chewy, though the rest of the muffin wasn’t overly sweet so the bursts of fresh blueberry were welcomed. I’m glad I don’t work in town any more or I could be treating myself to one of these on plenty a lunch break.
Overall the experience at Le Pain Quotidien ended up being much better than I expected. This is so far from an overpriced Pret a Manger. The food felt like it was cooked from scratch with care, the service was attentive, and there were just so many vegan options! I’m not sure I’d pop in here for lunch if I was out shopping (perhaps for a soup, but the food we ate was definitely a bit too heavy for that kind of occasion) but I think I would actually go out of my way to visit for a reasonably priced dinner. The portion sizes were generous for the price and everything we were served was good quality. It could also be a great place to come for a coffee and a catch up. Looking forward to coming back soon to try that apple pie.
We dined as guests of Le Pain Quotidien, all thoughts are my own.