Restaurant: Le Pain Quotidien, Alto Palermo
Location: Santa Fe 3253, Ciudad Autonoma de Buenos Aires, C1425
Opening Hours: 10am-10pm every day
Website: Click here
When I worked at Canary Wharf in London, the addition of a Le Pain Quotidien to the giant underground halls of Canary Wharf station warranted positive murmurs from my corporate colleagues. I was familiar with the brand from New York City branches where its breakfast-style tartines (open sandwiches) were the star of memorable brunches.
My first night in Buenos Aires was marked by unexpected blasts of street noise. Street workers were hard at work by 4am in the morning, so my morning walk through Palermo in Buenos Aires had the clear aim of getting me into the time zone. I wondered if food my help with that process (food always helps). For a brunch snack, I wanted something familiar and full of flavour.
Le Pain Quotidien is laid out with refectory-style shared tables, small tables for two and a lively menu heavy on carbs. Those open sandwiches / tartines are a popular choice, alongside eggs, salmon, Danish pastries, muffins and a small range of alternative baked goods.
This branch is in a chintzy part of Buenos Aires called Palermo. The interior mixed warm wooden tables and shabby chic styling with a sunset-yellow backdrop. Service was more than a little abrupt and at times the server seemed exasperated with any customer.
I did manage to order a lightly dressed chicken salad tartine on rye bread with sparkling water and fresh lemon. The sandwich was accompanied by an unexpected side of pomegranate molasses. The sandwich was carefully seasoned and needed little of the tart sweetness to offset its savoury high notes.
This branch did offer free wifi, a blessing which meant I could get on with plotting my food blogs for the South America trip.
Le Pain Quotidien is an international chain that offers the reassuring familiarity that visitors (and locals) sometimes need. However, Buenos Aires is absolutely awash with extremely high quality and interesting food options from street food to fine-dining options and one visit to this branch as a way to ease into the Palermo district is probably enough.