Where once Penn Quarter residents had to scrounge around for bread, our cup now overfloweth with fun baked options. While man cannot live on bread alone, we find that we’re living a lot better thanks to three of our local shops; Cowgirl Creamery, Paul, and Le Pan Quotieden. Each of these shops sells a decent baguette and they each have their pluses and minuses. We did not consider Firehook for this post since their offerings are not available on the weekends at the F street location.
- Cowgirl Creamery: (919 F ST NW, $2.95) The first of the three to open, we’ve bought more baguettes from Cowgirl than we care to admit. They’ve received their bread from different bakeries over the years, currently Cowgirl receives there loaves from Panorama (which we’re guessing is this place). The biggest of the loaves by far, the crust is a thin and the inside is slightly spongy. This is Mrs Columbo’s favorite of the three, but we find it tastes much better after toasting. This one is almost always better the next morning as toast points with your soft boiled eggs. The biggest downside to Cowgirl’s loaf is availability, once they run out of stock for the day (which happens often on Fridays, Saturdays, and beautiful sunny days) you’re out of luck. Cowgirls is also closed on Sundays so you have to plan ahead for your weekend.
- PAUL: (801 Penn Ave NW, $2.75) Paul opened to much fanfare last year but hasn’t quite lived up to the hype. A confusing ordering system (we wish they’d adopt the old fashioned number system used with great success at The Italian Store) and looks-better-than-they-taste pastries have mostly kept us away from Paul for everything but the baguette. The slimmest (and cheapest) of the three we’re reviewing, Paul’s baguette has a great crust with just a little bit of chew in the middle. You have to eat this one the day you buy it as it practically turns to stone overnight, but it still makes great breadcrumbs for use later. Paul generally has these on hand, although sometimes we’ve had to take a poppy or sesame coated loaf instead.
- Le Pan Quotidien: (979 F ST NW, $3.15) By the time Le Pan opened bakeries were old hat, so this one didn’t create much of a stir. The price point at Le Pan is just a bit too high for most of their offerings, but the quality is there and the staff has been extremely outgoing and pleasant. When we leave we often comment on how nice everyone was and how much we enjoyed ourselves, but we can’t believe we just spend $60 on lunch for two with no alcohol. The most expensive of the baguettes on our list, Le Pan’s also has the most unique shape, in fact the shape may turn off some customers. Being a fan of crust we love this loaf, but the elongated, pointed ends mean you end up with significantly more crust than from either Paul or Cowgirl. This is another loaf that can be used as a deadly weapon the next day, but we rarely have any left over. The biggest plus for Le Pan is quantity, we’ve never seen them run out of baguettes and we’re in there often (and on high-traffic days) to pick them up.
Which baguette do you think is worth fighting for?