The London Review of Breakfasts

"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." (Francis Bacon)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Le Pain Quotidien, South Bank

Le Pain Quotidien
Festival Walk
Belvedere Road
South Bank
0207 486 6154

by Orva Easy

After my last tragic brush with a French breakfast (you may remember that heartbreaking tale) I wasn’t holding out much hope for Le Pain Quotidien. They don’t serve sausages, for a start, and they are complete strangers to bacon. My loosely stitched up heart was still tender and a buttered croissant, however fluffy, wasn’t going to help the healing process. But I had little choice, stranded on the South Bank at 9 o’clock on a Monday morning, so I pulled myself together and shuffled in.

It looks nice enough, if a bit like an All Bar One - wood panels everywhere and half of the room is presided over by a magnificent old railway arch. The outer side is completely glass, though the vista of the neighbouring Royal Festival Hall is not particularly exciting, being mainly wall, but a gap at the far end affords a small view of the river and an interesting architectural snapshot. The service was rather less visible. Eventually, someone paying pointed me out, and I was hastily given a menu.

Pastries, 450-odd different breads, blah blah blah… my heart and my stomach were sinking when – what’s this? Organic soft-boiled egg (I like the fact that they specify that. Can I have it hard-boiled? No, you bloody can’t.) with fresh bread. Yes, please.

Reader, I left in love, again. Such an egg! Rich, perfectly cooked with bright runny yolk and accompanied by carefully cut mini-soldiers in a variety of breads. The butter (white, but lightly salted) was just at the correct temperature for spreading, without sweating. My ‘side order’ of fragrant smoked salmon came covering a plate the size of my head with an enormous salad which I hadn’t asked for but presumably was introduced by way of garnish. The teapot didn’t drip. The chamomile tea was actually made from chamomile. Simple, but effective. Vive la France.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be pedantic, le Pain Quotidien is a Belgian chain.

2:27 PM, March 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just about to send the same comment! In fact it is not just from Belgium, but from the South of Belgium, where they also happen to speak French. Tintin, by the way, is also Belgian... So really, Vive la Belgique!

5:22 PM, March 30, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ate supper at Le Pain Quotidien while in London last Friday night. I had the salad, and my companions ate the chicken pot and the lamb stew. Top marks all round, especially for the organic wine and the cafe Americanos. Highly recommended.

1:32 AM, April 03, 2007  
Blogger lil star said...

I love this chain! Although I must say that the best of the lot is the one off High St Ken. Service there is impeccable and lovely.

Oddly enough for a sworn carnivore, my favourite is the tofu salad.

4:11 PM, June 03, 2007  
Blogger Mark Stevenson said...

This place if very nice, but be warned, you will have to hand over the deeds to your house if you want a coffee. This might explain why you can always get a seat.

2:11 PM, September 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this isn't the London Review of Teas (though maybe we should start an offshoot) but I had a bad scone experience here recently. The scones thmeselves were good if freakishly large but they came with cream that would never have been allowed into a Devon tea room and sugary, tasteless organic jam. And we were given bowls for our tea.

Hurumph hurumph.

Bloody Belgians, coming over here, bastardising our teas and confusing us with their strong beers.


11:42 AM, March 19, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love it too, specially the warm baguette that you can't wait to bite before stepping out the shop! soups and cakes are great too!

4:45 PM, May 10, 2010  

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