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Europane vs. Lovebird's Bakery Cafe in Pasadena

After reading a couple of "raves" about the sandwiches at Europane here on Chowhound, we decided to check it out today for lunch. We were not impressed.

In our opinion it pales in comparison to Lovebird's across the street. The sandwich & pastry selection at Europane was more limited & more expensive than Lovebirds. Also, the seating was cramped at Europane & did not have an "inviting" vibe/feel. The service was also a bit curt & lackadasical at Europane.

I will say that the bread was tasty & fresh...but that's not enough of a draw to bring us back. We're locals & didn't think it was worth the drive.

Are we missing something?

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  1. Never been impressed by Europane - the food, the service - nothing blew me away. The egg salad that everyone raves about? Boring. The pastries? Dry. Tried a few times to make sure it wasn't an off day. It wasn't. Looking forward to trying Lovebird.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Lipps

      Hey- So I know that the service at Europane isn't the greatest, but hey, the food rocks like the beatles did! I'm a reg. as well, and even though the "tatooed, smarty pants" won't crack a smile, they try hard in the small space with large amounts of customers. Overall, Europane gets my vote. I reccomend the brown cake things (you know what i'm talking about) ;-) and the crossaints. I'm not such a big fan of the strawberry cake thingys (do i have to say it again??;-)]

      Love Sumi as well!

      -livininadreamoffood

      1. re: Lipps

        Europane makes there baked goods fresh every morning. There is no way that all of the baked goods that they have out at Love Birds sell in one day. There is absolutlely no comparison in the quality of ingredients that Europane uses compared to Love Birds. All of her fruit and vegetables com from the farmers market, and you can taste the difference. And for the record it is the best egg salad sandwich I have ever had. I personaly like my counter staff tatooed and artsy, it definately makes life more intersting.

      2. Fors starters, Europane has good coffee. More significantly, Europane is open when Lovebirds is closed. Did you try the turkey sandwich at Europane? It's very good.

        1. i'm a Europane lover, however, i must agree with the poster, service and ambiance is challenging for Europane.

          product is important, but service and ambiance do contribute to the experience.

          overall, i give europane (1-10 worst to best):

          food quality: 8+
          ambiance: 4
          service: 3.5

          4 Replies
          1. re: revets2

            You've underscored the reason there are two types of people who go to Europane: those who get a bunch of food to go and those who order and stuff themselves on premises, i.e., the regulars.

            1. re: mc michael

              mc michael...

              we like to sit outside with our dogs, but i do have to say, i dread having to ask a counter person to describe one more thing :(. more than once, i've hauled a** out of there with $150 worth of pastry for parties, etc. and can't believe how rude and poorly packaged these gems are.

              sumi is always accomodating and patient.

              i'm a reg, but i'd wish sumi would hire some people who care.

                1. re: mc michael

                  I agree, she is so sweet and one hell of a baker! When I have made the 60-90 minute drive for a cup of the excellent dark roast coffee and pastries, I have never been dissapointed and sometimes I have had, as I have posted about recently, pastries of 'world class' guality!!! There are no bakeries near my home and I must travel for high quality baked goods. EuroPane is well worth the trip.

          2. Food at Europane is consistently better than Lovebird's, in my opinion. But Lovebird's is good too and has a larger variety and more consistent availability (many a times I've gone to Europane to find my fave breakfast pastries was not made that day.) I also find Lovebird's a bit more comfortable if dining-in.

            1. wait just a cotton-picking minute here. this is a very silly argument. europane and lovebirds, other than both being places where you can buy bread and cookies and sandwiches in the same neighborhood, have nothing to do with each other. they are not playing in the same league. it's like comparing the serrano and manchego tapas at an AOC-type establishment and a grilled ham and american cheese at a denny's down the block: not a fair fight. i eat at both e. and l., but for very different reasons. if you want great bread and thoughtful complicated gourmet sandwiches and genius desserts and pastries by a parisian/nancy silverton-trained baker, you go see sumi at europane. you don't go there for the smiling service; it's tattooed and pierced smarty-pants young people working for an artist. they're a little distracted, but if you love the food, who cares? making a big deal of that is like complaining about the line at la super rica. it comes with the territory. but if you want a regular-joe sandwich or a plain, cheap, half-decent oatmeal cookie served by ordinary folks, nothing fancy, and who doesn't sometimes, you go to lovebirds. end of pasadena story.

              7 Replies
              1. re: paseater

                I know plenty of regular-joe, ordinary folk places that taste better than complicated, gourmet places.

                1. re: nd33x

                  i'm sorry i didn't make my point very well. because that was my point. sometimes you want a potato chip. sometimes you want potatoes cooked by a genius. they both "taste good" and hit the spot at different times of our lives. but that doesn't make the potato chip genius, if you're interested in food.

                2. re: paseater

                  The reason they even bring up the service is that it is such a problem that it distracts from the food. It also hinders any first-time customers from becoming regulars unless they're masochists. That said, in a blind taste test, a Europane croissant would whoop a Lovebird one. Unfortunately, a lot of people can't tell the difference because of the sour taste the service at Europane leaves in their mouths.

                  1. re: ozzygee

                    mmm. i acknowledge the service ain't great. but it's not actively bad in my experience. just indifferent. and my god, that croissant at europane: it does a lot more than whup lovebirds' airline-style one. it whups most all of 'em this side of the atlantic. makes a fellow ignore a lot of surliness.

                    1. re: paseater

                      I'll agree that I haven't been put off by the place either. But when I want to have a cup of coffee, some pastries and relax and read the paper on a weekend morning, I find myself at Lovebirds.

                      1. re: paseater

                        I dunno. Surly counterstaff is still a demerit.

                        And lovely as Europane's croissants are, if you are a local they can't beat the frozen ones you can buy by the dozen at Nicole's deli in South Pasadena. These cook up in 15 minutes at home and are the best croissants I've had since being in France! Fabulously light and flakey. And no need to look for parking!

                        1. re: Reeter1

                          Never had surly service at EuroPane, they are patient while I decide what I want and IF I ask for suggestions they offer them! This has been the case even when they are busy. Maybe I'm just more surly, or is it surlier, than they are! Oh well......

                          Now the idea of having high quality croissants in the freezer at home so that I don't have to drive to EuroPane (or Amandine or La Maison du Pain or where ever) is a really appealing idea. I have been to Nicole's a couple of times but have not spotted the frozen croissants and the next time I am anywhere near there I'm gonna buy some to try at home. Any other treasures that I should look for? Ready to bake baguettes would be nice!!!