Pain Perdu is small and quiet, adorned with flowers and French music and neat, unimpressive furniture. Regulars sit happily alone in a corner, or quietly chat in French with Yannick, one of the bakery owners. Like the taste of the bread and croissants and sweets, the atmosphere is understated, confident in subtlety.
The croissants ($1.80) are a delicate glory with tons of layers and a dense buttery centre. The almond variety has a hint of sweetness on top wrapping around a sweet custard filling that seeps into the inner layers.
The goat's cheese and spinach quiche ($5.95) tastes deceivingly light, with a discreet crust and airy filling. Like the croissants, it has a rich but subtle flavour rendering it immediately addictive.
The Croque Monsieur ($6.90) is enthusiastically recommended, a glorious invention of Swiss cheese baked over bread and black forest ham with bechamel sauce, garnished with a single split grape tomato. The sandwich is heavy and I can have more of it than I should in the presence of the pain perdu ($7.95), the best and most surprising dish ordered.
Pain Perdu translates as "lost bread," originates as an attempt to save the stale or hard. It varies all over France (all over the world i.e. the fried Dempsters sandwich bread with corn syrup I grew up on). Yannick boasts of his grandfather's recipe; a thick wedge of bread soaked in a milky creme anglaise sauce and stuffed with organic maple syrup and raisins. Small chunks of pineapple are scattered over the dish with berry coulis drizzled on top, balancing the sweetness of the eggy insides.
Photos by Alyssa Bistonath