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Is Toronto's Le Pain Quotidien for Real?

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Is Toronto's Le Pain Quotidien for Real?

embee | May 11, 2008 08:18 AM

I've never been to a Le Pain Quotidien outlet and was waiting excitedly for the Toronto opening. I've never made it there, though, and I'm no longer motivated to bother. Although there have been a few decent reviews that weren't outright shilling, the reports have been pretty consistently bad. It's rare that the Chowhound majority and Ms Kates agree so completely on a food establishment.

Here's a place with mediocre croissants that cost much more than Rahier's, with expensive food court level food served slowly (and in mingy portions), and with pastries that don't sound worth their calories. Here's a place most famous for its bread, yet hardly anyone reporting here (about 95 reports to date) seems to consider the bread worth buying. Here's a place where the microwave seems to rule. Yet this is a place with an international reputation. What gives?

I was reading Lucy Waverman's column in yesterday's Globe. She published a recipe for a Le Pain Quotidien style lemon tart. She went on to emphasize that this tart resembled a wonderful pastry served at Le Pain Quotidien in Europe and had, essentially, nothing in common with what is served at Le Pain Quotidien in Toronto.

I've got to wonder. Did some local entrepreneurs buy a license to use a name, but nothing else? Did the Belgian company fail to register their trademark in Toronto, meaning no connection whatsoever? Either I've been hearing spurious praise about this outfit for ages, or the corporate owners should get a handle on the Toronto operation before being further besmirched.

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