Le Pain Quotidien is a Belgian chain which has done exceedingly well all-over the world. It's quite amazing to see it everywhere from London to New York, yet each cafe is quite unique and cosy - you don't feel like you're in an multi-national restaurant chain at all. Top marks for atmosphere all around.
The food though...
I ordered the soup of the day which was leek and potato. I'm of the opinion that soups are not that labour intensive - it's easy to make a whole lot of soup, and whether you get the large or small bowl, the cost for the supplier really isn't that much. I got sucked in by a big sign saying "Daily soup with bread $6.95". When ordering however, I was asked if I wanted it in a cup or a bowl. Since I was feeling a bit poor that day, I chose the cup, hoping that the $6.95 was for the bowl so I would be doling out less cash, but of course that wasn't the case. I felt a bit cheated by that, but that was more due to my own lack of observation.
The soup itself is well, fine. A bit watered down, but only up to that level where it wasn't offensive. I'm not sure if I'd order it again - I'm a fence-sitter here. You're really paying for the organic food and the atmosphere as the taste wasn't mind-blowing. Although I didn't have a big appetite for the day and I was aware that it was, you know, soup in a cup, I was still a bit peckish afterwards (come on, check out the picture - it's a cup of soup with a sliver of bread).
Cost: $6.95 for a cup of soup with bread.
Value: I'm a bit eh here. I'd probably have it again if I wanted to sit with a friend in a nice atmosphere and chat for a while.
Speed: It's not slow, but unless you're going for take-away, it's not a run in and out place. Soup doesn't require a lot of preparation, but because it's such a popular lunch place, it did take a bit longer. It's the sort of place where euphemistically, the pace is 'leisurely' - but not in a completely inappropriate way.
Take-away: Possible. But perhaps there will be even less soup in a take-away cup? That's something to think about.
Eating at your desk: I'll have to try this next time. If it's one of those coffee cup style take-away cups, I can foresee it being difficult using your bread to wipe up the last remaining drops of soup at the bottom. Then again, it'll be in a cup so it'll be easy to eat at your desk.
Tip: I was there on Valentine's Day and they provided sparkling wine for everyone. It's a nice touch. The service is well-meaning, but you do feel like they're overwhelmed by Le Pain Quotidien's popularity.
Recommendation: Go for the atmosphere, but take a better look at the menu. Say no to the soup.