When someone first told me of Le Pain Quotidien, they referred to it simply as “that bread restaurant.” Quite frankly, this may be exactly what the owner wanted when he started the chain. Located in downtown Naperville, Le Pain Quotidien is a Belgium-based bakery and restaurant known for its bread. In fact, their name translates to “the daily bread.”
Le Pain Quotidien is a wonderful restaurant, however I do not see myself dining there frequently in the future. While the restaurant lived up to my expectations in some aspects, I would not recommend eating there.
The simple bread Le Pain Quotidien was founded to provide became incredibly popular. As The Taste reports in their article “Le Pain Quotidien’s Founder Alain Coumont talks Bread, Butter and Business” that “from one petite premises in Brussels, the franchise idea took flight, with 50 stores across Europe after just four years,” quite an impressive feat.
An April 9, 2018, article from Food and Beverage Magazine entitled “Le Pain Quotidien to Open in Naperville” writes that the ambience of the bakery is to offer “reprieve from the busy urban lifestyle“ and that the dishes and decor are to “transport customers to the Belgian countryside and a simpler way of life.”
This seems quite the lofty objective, but were it not for the immense number of customers in the restaurant the ambience may have nearly achieved its goal.
Hanging plants adorned the ceiling of the seating area to my right as I entered, and directly in front of me was a large bookshelf filled with copies of the Le Pain Quotidien cookbook, among other knick knacks. The light woods used for both the floor and table, as well as the white, exposed ceilings and the plentiful windows made for a quite enjoyable ambience.
After a hardly noticeable wait I was seated at a small table near the bakery counter. The table fit well with the aesthetic of the restaurant but was a little too small for two people. On the table sat a succulent, which was nice but also took up more space on the already small table.
I looked at the menu and found a large variety of bread-based items, as well as soups, sandwiches, and smoothies. Nearly all of the items on the menu were fairly priced, except for the smoothies which cost nearly nine dollars. The grilled chicken and smoked mozzarella I ordered cost $13.49, a fair price but certainly not cheap.
As I waited for my food, I observed the customers, staff, and decorations throughout the rest of the restaurant.
The restaurant was very crowded, but this may have been due to the fact that it was the second day it was open. The rest of the tables were full, but most customers seemed fairly satisfied with their service. Those who ordered from the bakery received their food quickly and seemed to have an excellent experience.
It took about half an hour for my food to arrive, a wait time that is frankly too long for a small restaurant in which I ordered one item. While this service was not the greatest, the food was not a disappointment.
I greatly enjoyed my grilled chicken and mozzarella melt. It was rich and savory, exactly what I expected. Though I didn’t feel it went above and beyond, the taste of my meal was pleasant and enjoyable.
My disappointment with the meal came not with the food, but with the plate on which it was served. The plate was a porcelain slab with no edges, and a small hole on one side, as if to hang it up. This impractical plate combined with the small table and a succulent, which I accidentally knocked the leaves off on multiple occasions, made my dining experience difficult. So, though the flavor was good, my experience eating my food was not.
While the ambience and food lived up to my expectations, many other aspects did not. Due to the many small annoyances in this restaurant, I likely will not dine there in the future, at least not frequently.
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