Battle of the French-sounding bread shops
Last week I shelled out $9 for a coffee and croissant at Le Pain Quotidian in SoHo. So how did it match against mega chain Au Bon Pain? Note that I’m comparing two similiar experiences in two different places.
Iced Coffee: It’s tough to make ice coffee distinguishable. So to me it boil downs to price and quantity. LPQ’s ice coffee is not cheap, probably because it’s organic. ABP’s ice coffee is f’in massive. Maybe it depends on the location, but for $2 my iced coffee is served in a filled 32 oz. cup. Advantage ABP.
Pain du Chocolat: Otherwise known as a Chocolate Croissant (but it’s not, since Croissant has to do with its shape). ABP’s Pain du Chocolat is topped with mo’ chocolate and confectioner’s sugar which to me is overdone. LPQ, on the other hand, is not only bigger but it’s nice and simple. Sure, it’s twice the price, but I think I got my money’s worth so advantage LPQ.
Service: LPQ annoying because they require table service if I want to eat inside. Sure, the service is great but do I need to play an extra 15-20% on top my bill for a croissant and coffee? I get the fast food experience at ABP but I’m not paying for that. Though, if I do eat inside LPQ, they got some awesome jam and hazelnut spreads I could use. Advantage LPQ.
Environment: ABP looks like a Starbucks. So average. LPQ looks like a proper bakery. I sat in the big ass community table. I like it, even if I had to pay extra for the privilege. Advantage LPQ.
Price: That’s easy. ABP is half the price of LPQ. Advantage ABP.
Frankly, you get what you pay for in both places. Although, if you want to save money in SoHo, order food at LPQ, walk over to McNally-Jackson, get their iced coffee (cheaper and better), grab a magazine and enjoy a better deal (though you’ll be battling yuppies for seating).