Pain du Jour (Santa Monica) What gives?
I was at Pain du Jour again this morning, and I had the same negative experience as the last fewtimes. When it first opened, when the Alsatian family had it, it was as good as any small shop in Paris or Lyon. I did not go for a bit, and the last few times everything has changed. First, I asked the sales person for pain de brioche, and she did not know what it was. So I tried egg bread, and she said challah (This is not Fred's bakery). So I got it and it was second rate as what the baguette, which like supermarket bread in France at best. Next time I asked for a croissant and was handed something that was straight. So I said, no a croissant. I was told it was straight because it was made with butter. (Is not croissant still the French word for crescent?) It was ok, but no different than many places Today the pain au chocolate was crisp on the outside, but collapsed inside. Each time I have gotten a baguette, it is industrial. Today I asked for one crisp, and one soft, and the sales person had no idea what I was talking about. Also, two baguettes and two pain au chocolate were almost $10.
I asked for the name of the owner, and it was not the family I knew. It was such a magical place early on Sunday morning.
Or am I totally wrong?
Well, to be fair, in the last five years it has:
Changed owners twice (same pastry chef, Matthieu Chamussy, just a new owner).
Extended it's hours.
Changed the days of the week it's open a few times (up to 7 days from 4, most recently).
Dramatically increased it's offerings.
Ceased providing breads exclusively to Melisse.
Started providing breads to MANY other restaurants and shops in town.
And been featured on Curb Your Enthusiasm...
After all that... no it isn't the same. Quality on certain items has slipped, on others it has held strong. It's still one of the better croissants au beurre in Los Angeles, but I haven't been happy with the baguettes for a while. The rustic breads are still pretty good, but smaller than they once were...
The interesting thing to me is that the place still has the same strength it always has, it's almost totally authentic. The recipes are point by point the same as they would be in Paris... execution has slipped, but it's still arguably the most authentic french bakery in the city.
Wow - this doesn't sound at all like the same place. As much as I like La Pain du Jour, my last visit was at least a few months ago, and that was just for a couple of baguettes. I didn't notice whether any of the regular folks were there - the young lady at the front was definitely new to me - but nothing out of the ordinary otherwise. Sorry to hear about your bad experiences and will keep this in mind when I go again ( I actually almost went this AM but my wife decided on pancakes at home instead :)).