There is something about Le Pain Quotidien. I am happy to know it exists, and get a little warm glow whenever I pass one. I even have a small café au lait bowl with their name on it. And yet.
The actual experience of eating at Le Pain Q always leaves me… a bit pouty. Like a child whose favorite toy isn’t half as cool when the batteries die. A few weekends ago, it happened again.
A friend and I decided to take ourselves out to breakfast. Because she was visiting, because it was raining and because we could. I felt quite the city lady when I led her into the beautiful, light flooded room of Le Pain Quotidien in the 7th arrondissement. The waiter brought us over to a corner table for two and handed us the menu. First dent in our good mood. I know Paris is expensive, but this was taking things to a new level. Pastries cost about double the going rate, and a boiled egg was 2,50 Euro. However, we had taken two metros to get there, it was pouring outside and we didn’t want to leave our warm seats. So we ordered. A bakery breakfast for her, a boiled egg with toast fingers and a raspberry mini-pavlova for me.
In the wait between ordering and eating, I got excited again. Okay, so things were a bit pricey, but we were in a posh part of town, the people watching was excellent, the room really very nice and bright. And surely the food was going to be wonderful.
Not so much, no. The meringue was fine, the contrast with the cool cream and surprisingly flavorful berries (given that it was October) pleasing. But for 6,50 Euro? I expected no less, and perhaps a little more. The bread, though, was actively disappointing. It was nothing special in the flavor department, there wasn’t an awful lot of it and, most unfortunately, it wasn’t fresh. We finished it, of course, and had a good laugh over the bear-shaped honey bottles. In fact, we ordered another round of coffee and congratulated ourselves on being inside and cozy while outside people were battling with umbrellas .
But still. Next time you see me making for the door of a Le Pain Quotidien, won’t you try to stop me?