As far as people watching goes, the new place to see and be seen at in Hong Kong is probably Lee Tung Avenue’s Le Pain Quotidien at The Avenue Complex in Wan Chai.
The location is undeniably excellent and the eatery which hails from Brussels looks amazing from the outside. Very European, very pretty and surprisingly spacious considering how coveted and expensive space is in Hong Kong. This is the first franchise in Hong Kong with plans to open more outlets in the second half of 2016. The brand currently has other outlets in Belgium, the US, Paris and the UK.
The eatery wants to be known as a bakery-restaurant with a communal dining concept so think long tables shared with condiments in the centre to grab a meal with colleagues or somewhere to catch up over a coffee if you are waiting around.
Founded in Brussels in 1990 by baker and chef, Alain Coumont who grew up fascinated watching his grandma bake bread, Le Pain Quotidien means “the daily bread” in French. His passion became reality when after opening his own bakery he also opened a stall at a local flea market offering simple salads and tartines alongside bread. Providing easy seating where guests could share the condiments, he found a long table to seat everyone at. This became Le Pain Quotidien’s first communal table.
We popped in to check out the menu and grab a bite. Bread is of course the specialty (both the regular version as well as organic and gluten free options) at the restaurant along with its condiments which are all sold, quite reasonably priced as takeaways. I liked the variety of items that were available as takeaways including their signature crockery which included tartine boards, teapots, cups and bowls and even the bakery cookbook!
If you are a bread lover, sit and have a coffee and order the basket of bread from the menu, or have it with an order of soup, or as part of a sandwich or eat it with the complimentary organic jams and spreads (blondie, brunette, noir, noisella and speculoos) or any of the organic cold pressed olive oils, balsamic, harissa, grey sea salt and black Malabar pepper mills, all of which are at the centre of every table. One thing to note if you are a fan of the warm bread basket is that pretty much all the bread here in the basket is served cold.
We tried a few items (above) on the menu. Mostly simple and wholesome fare with an emphasis on sustainable and organic (wherever possible) with vegan and vegetarian options also available. The menu selection includes soups, salads, signature tartines, homemade pastries, hot dishes and desserts. There was a hearty meatball dish (below) served in a cast iron pot which I saw the customers seated down from us order. Definitely, a must-try the next time I’m there.
Drinks wise, there is a good selection from organic shade-grown 100% Arabica coffees, to other beverages like juices and herbal teas.
Alcoholic drinks are also available on the menu which can order along with cheeses (HK$148 for an assortment) or the Mezze Platter ($168) or the Tuscan Platter (HK$188).
Looking for a healthy option, I ordered the Almond Butter smoothie with Bananas, berries, coconut yoghurt and almond butter which was absolutely delicious because you could taste the goodness of the fruit and yoghurt amidst a residual pleasant and tantalising rich and nutty flavour.
Le Pain Quotidien (open 8am to 10pm daily) is at Shop G41, The Avenue, Lee Tung Avenue, Wan Chai (Entrance at Johnston Road). Tel: +852 2520 1801