It started with a simple French baguette; and I was hooked.
Le Pain Quotidien, I’ve been in love with the place ever since I first visited their first cafe at Colaba. The ambience was warm and welcoming and the décor apt.
Fast forward 3 years, 4 months… give or take a few months. I never imagined my first blog post would be about them. I have always been a regular at LPQ at BKC and absolutely love almost everything on their menu. I usually enjoy having breakfast at this outlet; it’s just so peaceful. Whenever I need time alone, I find myself sitting at the table by the window, enjoying the view of the beautiful garden outside the cafe.
It was a pleasant surprise when I received an email from Nikoulina Berg, the General Manager – Operations, LPQ; inviting me and a friend for an exclusive preview of their new menu, an 8 course dinner, on the last Sunday in April. I had the opportunity to dine with epicureans from around the city at their communal table. This event showcased the highlights of the new menu that they were going to launch the following month. I was really excited to be a part of this evening.
We (Joash & I) arrived at LPQ a little after 7:30pm. The staff were warm and courteous, one of them showed us to the communal table. We met Nikoulina soon after. We were introduced to a few of the “foodies” who were already seated at the table. The other guests arrived over the next thirty minutes.
The table looked spectacular, the ambience was perfect, I couldn’t have asked for more.
The big basket of warm toasted bread looked beautiful, I couldn’t stop myself from munching on a slice of my favorite sour dough bread.
We were handed a copy of the tasting menu for the evening. Everything on the menu looked interesting and we couldn’t wait for the tasting to begin.
We ordered white wine sangrias, which were served with slices of apple. It was light, sweet and delicious, a perfect beverage to sip on.
Steamed Rolled Oats Idli – Tomato Relish and Chutney Powder
It was unexpected to see a south Indian dish at LPQ. The only Indian dishes I’ve seen on their menu was the Masala Omelette and Akuri . Everyone at the table had a big grin on their faces once this dish arrived. The plating was simple yet elegant. Steamed idlis, tomato chutney, chutney powder in oil and something new that I had never imagined seeing on a plate with idlis in it – balsamic glaze!
The idlis were nice, tasted a little more like “upma” to me, but the combination of all the elements on the plate made eating idlis a different experience for a south Indian like me. Joash liked the idlis and said he could see himself ordering this at LPQ the next time we had breakfast here. This would be an interesting entrant in the breakfast menu. I can see a lot of health freaks going ga-ga for this.
For the second course I chose the Mezze Tartine and Joash had the Trio of Pork Tartine.
Mezze Tartine – Babaganoush, Ricotta and Red Beet Caviar
The plate looked very pretty with the simplicity of the babaganoush garnished with black and white sesame seeds and the brightness of the red beet caviar. The ricotta cheese added balance to both the look of the plate and the flavours. The Babaganoush was fresh, the crunchy onion and the punch of the garlic made it oh-so-tasty. The garnish of olive paste and sundried tomatoes on the side complimented the dish. The red beet caviar was smooth and light, the consistency was like mousse. Again one of my favorite dips at LPQ, but to see it transformed into this tartine garnished with almonds flakes took it to a whole new level. It added sweetness to the platter, all in all, a great dish.
Trio of Pork Tartine – Pulled Pork, Belgian Ham and Crisp Bacon
Pulled pork, nice! Belgian ham, heaven! Crisp bacon, humana humana! I have very little recollection of eating this, simply because most of my central nervous system was processing how perfect these three meats tasted together. (Joash)
Grilled Mushroom Cobb – Rye Crisp, Blue cheese and Green Tea Dressing
This entrée was plated with a small bowl of the cobb and a crispy slice of the rye bread. I found this entrée a tad boring. The flavor of the mushrooms and the blue cheese overpowered the green tea dressing, I couldn’t really taste the green tea. Overall, It failed to impress me with its flavours. The rye crisp however, was a big hit at the table, it was toasted to perfection.
Fresh Watermelon & Arugula – Feta Cheese and Smoked Maple Dressing
This was a better option, the dish was plated in the same manner. The watermelon and feta cheese go so well with each other, this combo has been always been a favorite of mine for summers. The smoked maple dressing with the arugula gave it a new twist. It was fresh and delicious, and I liked it.
Confit Chicken & Porcini Mushroom Ravioli – Rosemary and Parmesan
This was hands down the most outstanding dish of the evening, it looked beautiful. The ravioli was cooked to perfection. The chicken confit was creamy and delicious, the mushroom sauce and the porcini slices added balance of texture to the dish. I loved the way it was plated with grilled red bell pepper with a little bit of pesto and sage leaves. I didn’t find any rosemary in the dish. It must’ve been an oversight on the part of someone in the kitchen. At the end of it all, the plates were clean, which pretty much speaks for itself.
For the fifth course I chose the Rye & Garlic Crusted John Dory Fillet and Joash had the Tandoori Marinated bay Prawns.
Rye & Garlic Crusted John Dory Fillet – Jalapeno Pepper & Cheese Spatzle
I was really looking forward to this dish. I wanted to see how the crust and the cheese spatzle tasted. I liked how the chef used spatzle and baked it like a mac n cheese. However, it lacked seasoning. The crust on the fish was impressive; I would definitely try using rye instead of the regular bread next time when I make my own rendition of this dish. I love garlic; and the flavor of the garlic on the crust with the herbs made it really delicious. However, the fish was overcooked, so I couldn’t really enjoy it as much as I had expected to. The asparagus was blanched and sautéed well, the jalapeno sauce was good too. I just wish the fish was moist and juicy.
Tandoori Marinated Bay Prawns – Berry Pilaf with Roasted Greens
I must say this is the first time I enjoyed rice more than prawns. The pilaf was light and fluffy, and if this wasn’t a tasting menu, I’d ask for seconds. If I could write a song for the pilaf, the chorus would go something like “Rice, Rice, Rice. You are so Nice, Nice, Nice.” The prawns were big, and cooked just right, but something about the tandoori marinade simply didn’t quite hit the spot. (Joash)
The Palate Cleanser – Sorbet Du Jour – Mango Sorbet
I get that the chef wanted to go with the fruit of the season but the mango sorbet was a little too strong for my liking. Considering this was a palate cleanser, I would have preferred something light. A green apple sorbet would’ve been perfect. I am a little particular about my palette cleansers, but almost everyone else at the table wasn’t complaining, but hey, it didn’t impress me much. And that’s all I have to say about that.
The most awaited course of the evening (Drum Roll…
Fourteen hour Slow Cooked Tenderloin
This was the most beautifully cooked meat I have tasted in a long time, the plating was simple yet elegant. It actually didn’t need anything more than what was served on the plate. The meat was served on a bed of roasted vegetables with sauce and garnished with parsley. It was juicy and oh-so-tender, it just melted in my mouth. I barely had to use my steak knife to cut into the steak. The braising was done perfectly, the seasoning was to the T. Lovely flavors.
Pork Spare Ribs – Sesame Broccoli, Grilled Apple Brioche, Chestnut and Lychee Puree
If this piece of spare ribs were to contest at a beauty pageant, it would bag the crown for “most good looking”. It looked spectacular, the crackling was so crispy and flavourful, the pork melted in my mouth. The grilled brioche was buttery and nice but I couldn’t taste the apple in it. The puree was sweet, which was fine but the lychee overpowered the chestnut flavour. LPQ need a lost and found section because the sesame broccoli was missing from the plate. All in all, a very good dish.
Braised Lamb Shanks – Raisin Pilaf and Root Vegetables
I didn’t want to miss out on any of the main course and this dish turned out exactly how I had imagined it. The meat fell off the bone, it was wholesome. The raisin pilaf was fluffy and tasted very earthy. You should definitely give this a try if you’re looking for comfort food. It was cooked to perfection, very mellow and everything on the plate just complimented each other. I have no complaints about this.
Mocha Opera, Pecan Tart, Belgian Brownie
William Powell said “Dessert is probably the most important stage of the meal, since it will be the last thing your guests remember before they pass out all over the table.” Well, I couldn’t agree more. I loved the Belgian brownie, it was shaped like a cupcake but the surface cracked when I bit into it and it was moist. The Mocha opera was good too with hints of coffee, the layer of chocolate on top of the opera made it difficult for me to cut into it with a spoon, a ganache would’ve been a better option. The pecan tart was bite size, the filling was not proportionate to the tart shell so I could not really enjoy the pecan flavor, the tart was a bit hard for my liking, I didn’t enjoy it all that much. There was no need to add the flower or the banana leaf or mango on the plate, it would’ve been nice to only have the trio on the plate probably dust the brownie with cocoa powder and a brush of melted chocolate across the plate because it looked perfect with just the deserts on the plate. Ahh well, that’s just me being fussy. I love the desserts at LPQ 🙂
Sigh! And then it was time to leave. We had an awesome time. What a great evening. I would like to thank Nikoulina and the whole team at LPQ for inviting us to sample the tasting menu. It was a pleasure meeting all of them who were present for the review.
My verdict – The new additions to the menu will be a hit. I know I will come back for more! Compliments to Chef Amit Vaidya and his team!