It was during the week of madness called Songkran that I was unable to find a restaurant to review formally (or perhaps even reluctant). Many restaurants just close the doors, like Louis Noll’s Mata Hari for example, while others were just too difficult to get to, being surrounded by gun-toting “gangs” ready to douse the hardiest of spirits.
It was while sitting in one of the three Au Bon Pain outlets and having my usual coffee that I suddenly thought, why not write about Au Bon Pain itself? After all, I have been eating regularly at all of the outlets for probably 10 years. That should be enough time to form an opinion, surely?
My hot latte.
Let’s get the pronunciation correct first. It is French, so get a bit nasally and say “Oh Bon Pan” and the meaning is “At the (sign of the) good bread.” It was an ancient way of naming inns, and eateries, and since many of the masses could not read or write, the establishment had a sign over the door with a picture, such as the Horse and Jockey (for example) and people would say, “I’ll meet you at the sign of the Horse and Jockey.”
The history of the Au Bon Pain chain is not medieval, but does date back to 1978 in Boston USA, where businessman Louis Kane discovered a bakery display. Enchanted by the aroma of freshly baked bread and impressed by the quality of the product, Kane had a vision, “Why not make freshly baked bread available to the commuters, tourists, shoppers, students and residents throughout the city?” and the Au Bon Pain urban bakery café concept began.
Today there are over 250 Au Bon Pain café’s throughout the world and it has been in Thailand since 1997, and we have three in Pattaya.
Over the years, I think I have experienced all of the offerings, and have always found them to be fresh and flavorsome. Whilst personally disappointed at times when told that a particular item was finished for the day, this is the price you pay to have fresh ingredients.
Breakfasts are well catered for, with a choice of bagels and bagel egg sandwich (B. 79), bagel egg and bacon sandwich, croissant egg sandwich and croissant egg and bacon sandwich.
There are many other items on offer including wrap sandwiches in tortilla bread, fresh salads, club sandwiches such as the smoked chicken club with smoked chicken, bacon, melted cheddar cheese, tomatoes, cos lettuce and béarnaise sauce, between toasted multigrain slices. There are many others including my favorite ABP steak and swiss cheese with roasted beef, melted Swiss cheese, red onions, hot pepper, Russian dressing, in a toasted braided soft roll or the BBQ pulled pork special at B. 135.
I enjoy watching my sandwiches being made for me, sometimes for example, without hot peppers as in the steak and Swiss cheese sandwiches.
The ethos of the Au Bon Pain company restaurants has always been to provide fresh healthy meals, and their coffee is always excellent. In fact I know of people who call in just for coffee, and others who pick up their breakfast bagels there and take them to work.
The three locations in Pattaya (and I have eaten regularly in all three) are:
The Avenue Pattaya, Ground Fl., Second Road (opposite the Marriott Resort) tel 038-723-931-2 (7 a.m. until 10 p.m.); and the Royal Garden Plaza Pattaya, Ground Fl. Beach Road Pattaya, tel. 038-415-920-1 (7 a.m. till midnight); and a smaller one at Bangkok Hospital Pattaya, Km 143 Sukhumvit Road, tel 038-726-305 (7 a.m. till 8 p.m.).
Many items are on offer, including wrap sandwiches, fresh salads, club sandwiches, you name it.
Each has its own ambience, with the hospital one more of a utilitarian fast food outlet, while the Avenue and the Royal Garden Plaza have more comfortable seating with interesting views and have a more relaxed atmosphere. Many people eat outside and meeting there can be a very social event. I know of one group of seniors who frequent The Avenue Au Bon Pain, look for them any Saturday morning!
So, in conclusion, Au Bon Pain deserves its presence in Pattaya, and if you haven’t tried them, come and join me in a hot latte. Great starter for any morning.