I LIKE THE PAIN

Le Pain Quotidien
WWW.lepainquotidien.com for locations


Let me explain. This restaurant is down the street from the Greenwich apartment and it's name is Le Pain Quotidien. The locals who have lived on the street since they were born all call it 'The Pain' and not with the French pronunciation of “P-ehn” with an almost imperceptible “uh” sound. Just 'The Pain'. Or they call it 'The Bread Place on the corner'.

I’ve popped in a few times and made many fervent decisions on what loaf of bread to bring home until I lose my mind and have to wipe my sweaty palms on my jeans and steady myself and walk out with nothing more than an iced latte. Fuck! I’ve got to get a hold of myself around their loaves of perfection. I’ll get there.

I’ve also had breakfast a few times and ordered things like black bean hummus with tomato, olives and fresh greens on toast with a cup of gaspacho. I must say, if you are ever feeling like you’re not hungry in the morning, try that combination. You’ll want it every morning and it might make for a better day overall.

My usual default is the 2 soft-boiled eggs with toast soldiers. Not particularly adventurous, but let me give you my secret excitement. I lop the tops off of the eggs with 1 fell swipe of my butter knife and that is not easy for me. I could fail miserably and send my egg flying onto someone else’s plate (not far fetched since we all sit at the big communal table in the middle of The Pain) and then I am down to 1 egg and soldiers. Or you can get too timid and just crack the egg and then have to do awkward hacking and knocking to free the top of the egg and then you have bits of shell everywhere including in the egg. Or you could wimp out entirely and tap the top of the egg and peel and then scoop but the key to eggs (especially when flipping them in a pan!) is not to show fear, you must put aside all doubt and have courage and at The Pain, my triumph is slicing the top of the egg off “whack” and the egg shell around the main body of the egg is still in tact and keeping it all warm and dunking each soldier down into the unctuous golden yoke as I flake an indecent amount of grey salt and fresh ground pepper over the whole affair. It goes like this:
Whack! Sigh. Grind. Grind. Grind. Glunk. Slobber. Sigh. Moan. Grind. Grind. Grind. Glunk. Slobber. Swoon… you get the idea.

People who have met me for petite dejuner dans Le Pain Quotidien have mentioned that I don’t do my normal happy eating face and head bob movements. And are a bit disturbed by the sensuality of me and my 2 soft boiled eggs.

Which brings me to the big bummer the last time I ate there (2 weeks ago). It had been a busy week with me rushing back and forth between Philly and NY and we were set to head to the airport around noon for a 2:30 PM flight. Hudson’s mom and friends were meeting us for a breakfast goodbye at The Pain (they didn’t want to eat at Corrado’s because Corrado’s doesn’t make their own bread or pastries. Go figure. That fact never would have occurred to me. Now those are REAL foodies people! I can only aspire to that level.) and we saw that the outside tables of The Pain were full as we walked inside to the big communal table. We ordered and 2 of our party ordered the 2 soft-boiled eggs and toast soldiers but I ordered the black bean hummus plate and gaspacho. Then we sipped our coffee drinks and waited 45 minutes. Then my gaspacho came out. No one wanted to share, so I consumed that alone. Then we kept waiting. Hudson’s mom waived at our waiter and asked where our food was. He rushed away. Then he came and said the kitchen was slow today. He comped some of us more coffees. Then my hummus plate came out. No one wanted any and I started munching and eyed my watch. Then their breakfasts came out but the eggs were hard boiled and there was no possibility of eating them with the soldiers. They returned them with the promise that the soft-boiled eggs take exactly 5 minutes so they’d have new food in 5 minutes. 5 minutes later the new plates came out and I was wiping the crumbs of my breakfast off my t-shirt, but the new eggs were barely beginning to congeal near the shell and warm, but were basically raw. OK, not even an option to eat those unless you’re into breaking it into a bowl with the makings for Caesar salad dressing and drizzling it over greens (hey! Not a bad idea!). When we asked the waiter what the sitch was, he sent the manager over. This has actually never happened to me and I only witness it when I see some sort of high maintenance nightmare diner raising Hell at Ruth’s Chris or Spago's after one too many Scotchs. A very efficient gal came over and introduced herself and quickly explained that we couldn’t be helped and that we needed to understand that their eggs were cooked to precisely the same temperature and for the same number of minutes to the second and we were experiencing the nuanced vaguearies of organic eggs.

We paid the bill and ran for the airport and were late. Yes, a bummer. But I’ve worked for years in the food industry and can tell you exactly what happened.

Our waiter was swamped out front and we were the only people in the entire restaurant (giant table to ourselves). He got our drinks and forgot to put in our food order to the kitchen. Then he dipped into the gaspacho for me, and stole someone’s black bean hummus instead of delivering it to the person who had just ordered and brought that to me, and the eggs had been hanging out in the kitchen cooking in their shells as he ran to his tables. Later, they raced to get the eggs out, which you can’t do with eggs… and then the poor organic nature of the eggs was blamed.

I get it. I started waitressing when I was 14 and had more than a few of those interactions.

I’ll still go back but may gauge when I order my eggs.

Ivy

Note:
Best way to properly pronounce the actual name is phoenetically and Quotidien just say the last part as the letters T, D, N.
“Luh Pahn Kwo-T-D-N”.

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