Omg. Omfg. I think my tastebuds had the most epic of tastegasms this world could have provided. EVER. There's this little bakery place at Fashion Island that has stolen my heart away and I will never look at sandwiches the same ever again.
Le Pain Quotidien, a Belgian chain with 15 locations in California, is a delightful organic bakery that offers fresh bread, pastries, and an assortment of delicious entrees all created in-house. The quality and freshness of ingredients alone sets this place apart, but that combined with the atmosphere, ridiculously amazing flavors, and reclaimed wood with energy efficient lighting makes for an eating experience unlike any other.
I orded this fantastic Prosciutto & Mozzarella di Bufala 'tartine', which comes with sun-dried tomatoes and basil pesto (I also added avocado), along with the most divine mint lemonade I've ever had. It was pretty much a lemony mojito minus the rum. Nomnomnom. But the tartine is basically an open faced sandwich so I ate it like pizza. When I mentioned quality before, I don't think I made it clear enough– these ingredients are legit. The Belgian Wheat bread is the softest, most deliciously perfect bread I've ever had, the avocado was fresh and ripe, and everything else was fantastic. How could you go wrong with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella?? You can't. And the prosciutto wasn't even overly salty. Too fricken good. I even had a bite of my friend's Grilled Chicken & Smoked Mozzarella tartine and it too was fabulous.
This was my second experience at the bakery, and I can promise you I'll be back (and back again and again). The atmosphere is so open and clean, they even have a community table in the middle so people can sit together, encouraging people to remember that even in cities where everyone's in a rush and impatient, it's good to keep in mind we're all in this together. Between that, the friendly chalkboard signs everywhere, and the fresh loaves of bread and pastries on display, it's hard to say no to just a taste of this lovely place, even if it's on the run and has to be ordered to go. With locations all over the place (not just in Cali) go to their website and find one close to you. NOW. Do it. Your tastebuds (and stomach/heart/overall health) will thank you.