What Happened to Le Pain Quotidien. The Pain is Real
Le Pain has always been one of our family’s favorites. They not only have perfect weekend brunch menu, but also offer cooking classes and a bakery with amazing breads.
There is one at Fashion Island shopping center in Newport Beach and we’ve known it inside and out, before corona outbreak that is. Now we are not sure if we know it at all.
Today we decided to pay our favorite eatery a visit again. It has been open for take-outs and dine-ins with limited outside seating. We are, of course, all for dine-in, because otherwise why leave the house and come back with bags and plastic dishes just to eat it all at home?
Our long awaited experience was good, I am not complaining here, but it made me miss the good all days that much more. First – those annoying masks. You have to wear a mask upon entering and while ordering. Afterwards, at the table outside, you can take it off. We are using face shields instead of conventional masks, because breathing is easier with open mouths and noses. Tight masks on kids’ faces are especially painful for me to see, so I avoid them at all costs.
Le Pain has a very different feel to it. The cozy indoor dining room is all closed, chairs are up on the tables, there is tape showing where to go and how to proceed with ordering. Ordering is at the register while you stand in a mask 6 feet away from other people. The menu is changed and reduced. We felt like they still had enough choices, but definitely not as many as before.
After you order, you can sit down at a cleaned table outside, there are signs informing which tables have been sanitized. There are no waiters in the restaurant, but after food is prepared, somebody brings a huge quantity of packages and bags to the table you are waiting at. There were not many people with us, so it didn’t take long for our order to come out. That was nice because back in a day we sometimes had to wait for a very long time.
The choice was ours to eat there or take everything home with us. We decided to stay. There are no real dishes at Le Pain anymore; you eat everything from to-go packages with plastic utensils. Because of those plastic dishes it did feel like we were eating at a train station somewhere. But the food was good. We missed it very much, which made everything taste that much better!
One thing we did notice though is the reduced quality if bread. We always got bread there, so I think I can consider myself an expert of sorts.
This time the assortment of bread was much smaller and it didn’t taste as scrumptious as before. And it’s not because my expectations were too high.
I think it’s safe to say that we are not the only ones slightly disappointed with the whole experience. While it’s most definitely better than nothing, we will be looking forward to the hustle and bustle of people there again. We will be looking forward to life as we knew and to the breads we loved. Won’t you?