Friday, March 7, 2014

Au Bon Pain Food Review

Au Bon Pain's BLT

Sometimes, all I need for lunch is a sandwich; and it's hard to argue with the convenience of Au Bon Pain, especially when I'm downtown. There's one on just about every corner; so I popped into the one at 19th & M Streets, NW and ordered a BLT... toasted, minus the mayo, with a few red & yellow pepper strips for color and flavor.

The 1850 M Street location has an odd design (and it seems, only one trash can.) After placing my sandwich order, I went in search of a place to sit. The front of house has a few seats; but there's another room in the back, full of tables. The entrance to this area (as well as the exit for the kitchen) is a narrow artery, home to the cashier and cash register. How strange! It's an extremely tight fit; and there's very little room to set your food down, while you fish for your wallet.

Sandwiches are reasonably priced at $5.49 per; and the young lady behind the counter was very nice, and agreed to make a few changes to mine. A BLT comes on country white bread with applewood smoked bacon, mesclun, tomatoes and mayo. It was ready in no time; and the cashier was very polite but deliberate in processing my order. I took a seat in the back, where the radio plays pretty loudly from one visible speaker near the ceiling.

My BLT was fine, but similar to one I could make at home... only less toasted, with ½ of a single cherry tomato inside. The bacon is good quality, and is generously applied; but ½ a cherry tomato? C'mon man! Other than that, far from remarkable; but good enough to hold me until dinner.

As for the atmosphere... Not so good. You could hear the staff talking amongst itself quite a bit, and the space itself looks very old and dated. The restrooms are individual (with a lock) but the men's toilet didn't flush, there was no hot water and the sink was almost cracked in half. Yuck.

I was given a hearty farewell by the cashier (very nice) but I had to walk out to the front entrance to find a place to empty my tray and trash. With some slight improvements, and a bit of housekeeping... this Au Bon Pain might measure up to it's glitzier siblings at 1724 & 1801 L Street, and 801 17th Street, NW. In the meantime, try keeping your expectations to a reasonable level.