What's With Le Pain Quotidien?

As stores shutter and "For Sale" becomes the city's fastest growing chain, there seems no end to the surfacing of new Le Pain Quotidiens. They're everywhere like crabgrass! The Belgian bakery-cafe has definitely tapped into New Yorkers' consciousness as a sophisticated enough place to get exotic enough food for cheap enough prices, and you can even sit outside.

There are only a few problems:

*For whatever nutty reason, they don't serve soda. I love soda! What the fuck?

*The big thing on their menu is an open-faced sandwich called a tartine. I'm always terrified that it won't satisfy me the way a closed-faced sandwich does, though admittedly it sometimes turns out almost OK.

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*Some of the seating is communal, consisting of long, wooden tables with benches. Nyuh-uh. Homey needs his ass seated separately.

But there's no stopping the success of this place. Even in L.A., I kept seeing them around the joint. So never mind the Pain. Just give in and start ordering.

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