The $4 Soft-Boiled Egg They Just Couldn’t Get Right

by Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng
November 25, 2008

Le Pain Quotidien
801 Broadway
@ 11th St
New York, NY 10003

Cooking 101: Soft-boiled egg. I learned how to boil mine from a Martha Stewart cookbook. Solid egg white and running egg yolk every time. So, why the Pain Quotidien in my neighborhood struggles with this basic breakfast dish is a mystery to me.

Earlier this week, when I stopped in for breakfast, things started out on the wrong foot. First, when the waitress took my order, instead of executing it, she started to chat with another waitress about her new beau. I was right there, and she continued unabashed and unaware. Makes you wonder about their management. Little did I know, I’d be meeting that management in just a few minutes.

When my egg came, it was half raw. The manager was quick to return the dish, asking me plainly, “How do you want the egg cooked?” To which I answered, again, “Soft boiled.”

I went back to my papers. Time passed. The second egg appeared. Cooked rock solid. For $4.39, I want to enjoy the rich taste of the runny egg yolk! I talked to my waitress, who apologized, and back went the egg.

The Financial Times saved them for a while as there were tons of good articles to keep me busy. But a newspaper is only so long. When the new egg was placed before me, it was time for final judgment. Lucky for PQ, the egg was just the way it was supposed to be. Good. I enjoyed and savored it. When I asked for the bill, I told the waitress very calmly that I did not expect to pay for the egg. Minutes passed and the manager came by to ask me, “Is there a problem?” I responded cool as a cat, “Yes, it took you three tries to get me my boiled egg, and you’ve wasted a lot of my time this morning. For a regular customer, I’d hope the minimum you can do is show some courtesy.” I was obviously speaking a foreign language to her. She walked away without a response or apology.

It wasn’t the $4, but frankly for that kind of price, the customer deserves a perfectly cooked egg in one try. Obviously the problem came before the egg.

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