The London Review of Breakfasts

"No more excuses. No more apologies. No more of these obvious, desperate breakfasts." (Skyler White)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Le Pain Quotidien, St Pancras International

Le Pain Quotidien
Unit 4
St Pancras International
Somerstown
NW1 2QP (Map)
020 7486 6154
www.lepainquotidien.com

by Rhys Chris Peese

The hyperbole, bombast and flummery generated by the rerouting of Eurostar trains to St. Pancras might lead one to suspect that something interesting is going on there. Relax. It’s not. The main difference is that it’s now blighted with a surfeit of franchised retail outlets. Our continental cousins will now be welcomed to the UK with… some shops. And a big statue.

The only breakfast choice at present is Le Pain Quotidien, a Belgian chain priding itself on artisanal bread and communal tables. What they have reckoned without, however, is a tendency for those communal tables to unite the British into micro-communities of wry, near-affectionate xenophobia. “You’d have thought they’d do a full English,” muttered one malcontent as he surveyed the bread and pastry-heavy menu. Others were keen to concur, identifying the serving of boiled eggs with bread, rather than toast soldiers, as symptomatic of a creeping European malaise. Hackles were raised further by the lack of English breakfast tea, and the irritating fact that the ‘pot’ of coffee was identical in volume to the bowl from which it was intended to be drunk. And when the old dear next to me sent her tepid porridge back three times to be heated properly, saying, “Porridge should be hot! Or is it the French way?” our table was ready to brick up the Channel Tunnel altogether.

Still, we enjoyed our warm Belgian waffles and granola parfaits. The former was succulent, crumbly and not too sweet; the latter, a spectacular sundae, was replete with melon, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds, mint leaves and yoghurt. But the question remains: why provide a continental breakfast for passengers a couple of hours away from being able to get an authentic one abroad, and why welcome visitors to the UK with the cuisine that they’ve just travelled to escape from?

5 Comments:

Anonymous Blake Pudding said...

I notice that they have a very long champagne bar when surely what the weary European traveller would want would be a nice pint of bitter and some pork scratchings.

1:16 PM, December 08, 2007  
Blogger sdrowe said...

After regularly eating at their stores in New York and France the St Pancras branch was a little dissappointing. Certainly less relaxing but maybe due to its location. When we ordered a hot chocolate in the hope it would be made with their special belgium chocolate (as served overseas) it wasn't....sigh.

12:28 PM, February 07, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"why provide a continental breakfast for passengers a couple of hours away from being able to get an authentic one abroad, and why welcome visitors to the UK with the cuisine that they’ve just travelled to escape from?"

I do see your point, I do... but I was genuinely shocked at how butterly delicious the cheese croissant I clutched at (while running for the Eurostar to Paris) was that I have been back again and again and I must admit to exclaiming this morning that this was my favourite breakfast, ever. (Only on a weekday mind, weekends are eggspressly for, erm, eggs). And by all accounts it is an authentic Belgian experience. When can I go to Belgium please?

11:50 PM, March 19, 2008  
Blogger Sandy said...

I'm happy to see that Le Pain Quotidien is across from the Eurostar, and open well before we leave, as we will be leaving around 7:00 AM and don't want to take the time for breakfast when we arrive in Paris. We'll have noon reservations at a favorite restaurant and want to be hungry! We'll save Paris croissants for later in the day, when we're walking past Gerard Mulot, on our way to Jardin du Luxembourg :-)

8:05 PM, November 01, 2009  
Anonymous Mabel Syrup said...

Sandy, beware! Do not attempt to take your delicious Pain Quotidien coffee with you through customs.
You will be forced to drink it extremely unceremoniously in the grey gap between the ticket barriers and the X-ray machines with a stubborn, bitter security guard looking on smugly. Your mouth will be burnt, your ego will be bruised and half of that lovingly prepared drink will be forced to languish and cool balanced on the top of the coffee cup filled bin.

Eurostar have clearly made a nice cosy little relationship with Costa coffee, the only place that sells coffee behind customs.

10:43 AM, November 02, 2009  

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