Tonight, I did what I occasionally do when finding myself at Waterloo Station heading home in the early evening and deciding it was too late for a hungry women to wait the journey home for supper … I headed into Le Pain Quotidien by the Festival Hall. I like it there and it’s a great place when you’re on your own; it has a cheerful buzz and it’s quite fun to sit at the communal tables. I once found myself sitting almost opposite Patricia Hodge one very busy lunchtime at the Marylebone High Street branch but just resisted asking her about Miranda … Tonight I had one of my favourite salads there: large prawns, avocado, mango and tomato salsa – and a nice glass of chilled Spanish rose, made with Tempranillo and Syrah grapes, which suited the warm summer evening.
I ‘discovered’ Le Pain Quotidien years ago when I went to Brussels a lot and at the time there were few of them outside Belgium and none at all in UK. Like all chains, they are the same everywhere but I guess it’s that familiarity that appeals to me – and a sense of being somewhere different and slightly more exotic than close to Waterloo Station! It’s quite expensive for what it is – tonight’s salad was fresh and good (good but not excellent), but had too few prawns for its £11.95 price tag – but just occasionally … and I’m not near one that often … I’m happy to pay a bit over the odds for the atmosphere of the place and the comfort of sitting there. And if you’re ever just passing by … or just want a coffee and cake … they do carrot cake to die for … the best carrot cake I know!