03 May 2009

Brunch at Le Pain Quotidien

As an actor, one becomes adept at the sort of job that makes ends meets because an acting career doesn't often do that (or at least not right away). One such job for me last year was mystery shopping. I would go into shops, museums, make phone calls, receive flowers, etc. incognito and then fill out an evaluation based on the criteria a company wanted to control for. One of my favorite missions was getting breakfast at an international chain of French restaurants called Le Pain Quotidien. (I don't do it anymore, so don't worry, I'm not compromising my secret 007 identity ;-)) The Pain Quotidien's philosophy involves using as many organic ingredients as possible, making the bread and pastries on site and seating everyone at communal tables (made from reclaimed wood) -- the kind of stuff I can really get behind.

En tant que comédien, on devient très vite adepte des petits boulots pour arrondir les fins de mois, car être artiste n'est pas souvent facile pour le budget. L'année dernière, j'ai travaillé en tant que cliente mystère. J'allais dans des boutiques, des musées, etc., posais des questions, faisais des achats, et puis à la fin je remplissais un questionnaire selon les critères que la compagnie cherchait à contrôler. Une de mes missions préférées était d'aller manger au Pain Quotidien, une chaine internationale avec plusieurs restaurants à Paris. Leur philosophie est d'utiliser uniquement des ingrédients bio, de faire leur pain eux-même et de tout servir autour de tables communes où vieilles connaissances et étrangers se retrouvent pour rompre le pain ensemble.

This Sunday D. and I went back there, just for fun this time and because their food is good. Waiting in line, we were greeted by an overwhelmed server who luckily had a good sense of humor because he was trying to please everyone, even the woman who said "I'll be at the laundromat. Will you come get me when my table is ready?" Yes. He would.

I ordered the full brunch, which consists of a soft boiled egg, yogurt and granola, a salad with assorted hams and cheeses, a basket of breads and pastries, fresh fruit juice and a hot drink. Quite a feast! D. got a breakfast called "Le Pain Quotidien," which was similar to the brunch but without the salad or granola -- much more reasonable! We had never been there on a weekend and I have to say, it was a bit crazy with a hap-hazard combination of rather uppity people who live in the area, tourists, and families with small children (who ran circles around the crowded tables). That said, if you arrive before 1pm, you'll probably do alright and the food is worth a little waiting. There are Pain Quotidien in 15 different countries, so even if you're not in Paris, you can still check it out.

Ce dimanche, je suis retournée pour le fun cette fois avec D. En faisant la queue, on a été accueilli par un serveur débordé, mais très gentil. Il essayait d'arranger tout le monde, même la femme qui lui a dit : "Je serais au lavomatique. Vous pouvez venir me chercher quand ma table est prête ?" Oui. Pourquoi pas ?

J'ai pris le brunch complet : oeuf à la coque, yaourt et granola, assiette de fromages et charcuteries, croissant, panier de pain, jus de fruits frais et une boisson chaude -- un vrai festin ! D. a pris le petit-déjeuner "Pain Quotidien" : la même chos
e sans l'assiette et sans le granola -- beaucoup plus raisonnable. C'était la première fois que je venais le week-end et c'était un joyeux bazarre, un mélange de bourgeois du quartier, touristes et familles avec enfants. Je conseillerai d'arriver avant 13h les samedi et dimanche parce que c'est assez populaire (et pour de bonnes raisons).


Sam said...

I used to do mystery shopping too. My favourite job was for Haagen Dazs, I had to go to the cinema, get an enormous ice cream and get paid for it!

This place sounds good though I've never heard of it before, maybe they're not in the UK yet?

Psychgrad said...

I tried to convince the girl at the movie store that I may be a mystery shopper and give good reviews when given free stuff. No dice.

Actually, I always thought being a mystery shopper would be fun. Certainly, excuses to eat at a place like this would be sweet.

Hopie said...

Sam - Mmm, haagen dazs. That's good stuff. Pain Quotidien is in the UK! I don't know if it's near you though. You could look on their website: http://lepainquotidien.co.uk/.

Psychgrad - This mission was a fun one, but some were very unfun (i.e. calling Air France 6-10 times a month to make false bookings with complicated scenarios I had to write myself) and the pay was variable. Still, not a waste of time because I discovered some cool stuff and did get to go to a whole bunch of museums and monuments for free last summer!

Katharine said...

The Pain Quotidien near your sister's apt in NYC is fabulous as well. We popped in there for a quick bite one late morning and regretted that we hadn't left ourselves a decent amount of time to relish the delectables: besides the granola and baked goods, the magnificent hot chocolate and teas. Must return - love the wooden tables - they have 'em in New York, too!