Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dubai Restaurant Review: Le Pain Quotidien, The Walk JBR

In a nutshell: lovely croissants but appallingly disorganised service and quite pricey.

The Dubai weather is finally improving to a level where eating outside for breakfast or dinner (still too hot for lunch) is a real pleasure. We decided to make the most of this and head down to The Walk for breakfast with my brother. None of us being familiar with the restaurants down there, we agreed to meet at a central point on the presumption that we could just walk along and find loads of choice. Unfortunately for us we headed down The Walk (with the beach on our left side) and it turns out there are no restaurants down that way!! Heading back up, and by now getting a bit more than hungry since it was 10am, we wanted to stop at the first place we saw. The first place we came to was Caffe Roma, a very good value breakfast buffet but we have eaten there before and saw cockroaches crawling around the cereal - yuck! We then arrived at Le Pain Quotidien (or PQ as they've shortened it to) and decided that was far enough.

PQ has a large outside area but this was sadly full and would have required a 20 minute wait or more. We elected to sit inside - by the time we left that was also full to capacity. The menu for breakfast was extensive but lacked the set menus that give such good value for money. There were some pastry menus which included a basket of bread, pastries, coffee and juice but there was no cooked breakfast menu. You would think the price of a cooked breakfast would perhaps include a hot drink, toast and juice but not here - each item would be charged separately. Later on, we walked past Paul's cafe and for AED 49 you could have a bread and pastry basket, orange juice, tea / coffee and an omelette with salad - now that is good value.

I was trying to be good and not have yeast so thought that maybe it was time to give eggs another go (I've been off them now for 3 months so it's time I try one and see how my stomach reacts). I really fancied the eggs benedict with smoked salmon and spinach but didn't want a poached egg, knowing they must have a ready prepared dish of scrambled egg in the kitchen (and if they didn't, they're not hard to make) I asked to have eggs benedict with scrambled egg instead. I was told that no special requests could be made during busy times!!! Excuse me? Yes, they were busy but why put out so many tables if you then can't cope with that many diners?! Ridiculous.

During our breakfast we must have been served by about 4 different waiters. There didn't seem to be any system whatsoever so we had items brought to us by one waiter and then brought again by another! Very poor management - they had plenty of staff and if each waiter was given his or her own section to manage then operations would go a lot more smoothly and efficiently. When I complained about the terrible service, I was told it was because it was busy. I've eaten at cafes that were at least as big and busy in France and where there were considerably less staff without any issues whatsoever, it all comes down to management...or the lack of.

Despite the service issues, the food we had was very good. Struan had a granola parfait which was layers of yoghurt, granola and fruit - he said it was delicious. We all had a chocolate croissant (I need to check but I don't think croissants have yeast in them) which were very nice - soft and squidgy just as they should be, although we had to send them back to be warmed up. In terms of food quality, PQ does deliver, but the management need to seriously work on the service quality.


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