Le Pain Quotidien, corner of Fitzroy and Bourke Streets, Surry Hills
Holly, Rachel and I popped into this restaurant a week or so ago before heading up to the football stadium for a dismal Sydney FC match. We'd walked past it a few times and peered into the window, and had wanted to try it out for ages.
Le Pain Quotidien means the daily bread, and this place really does make exceptional bread. Chewy, full-flavoured, real bread. It seems to be an international chain expanding all over the place.
The room itself is spectacular. It seems to be a converted warehouse space, with high ceiling and lovely raw wooden floorboards. A very warm, rustic feel which, given our miserable summer and particularly the miserable evening that day, was rather pleasant. It'd be a great space to linger over a few bottles of wine and some grub with friends in mid-winter.
The food centred around bread and things to have with bread. Between the three of us we ordered the Tuscan platter of ham, tapenade, pesto, soft cheese and gerkins, and a beautiful pot of Beef Bourguignon. Perfect food for a lazy and social meal, dipping bits of their amazing bread into the rich stew or slapping antipasti odds and ends on.
I was a bit surprised that for both dishes, and with three people at the table, we only got five meagre pieces of bread. We'd mown through the bread before we were even two-thirds through the bits that go with it, so I ordered some more. And this is what pissed me off: the waiter brought out three more little pieces of bread, and I got charged $4 for the privilege.
Now I recognise that these guys have to make a buck, and their meals are pretty reasonably priced, but charging more than a buck for a slice of bread sticks in my craw. Not providing enough to reasonably eat the meal doesn't help matters.
So while the place is excellent in every other regard, the pricing policy didn't make me happy. If you live nearby, it'd be a great place to buy your bread and sandwiches. Perhaps knowing you'll be charged for bread, you won't be as annoyed as I was and will quite enjoy it.