Pret-a-Manger, or ready to eat, has locations throughout China, France, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Although it’s a global brand, it should not be mistaken for a chain food or fast food establishment. On the contrary. The company prides itself on food prepared at each location and only with the freshest and most natural ingredients. It shows, and therein lies the challenge to the pastries of Montreal, which may very well have been check-mated by London.
I had the pleasure of visiting the location on Queensway, off Bayswater Road, in London on a regular basis. All it took was one bite on my first visit of their almond croissant and I was hooked immediately. The pastry was flaky, warm, had generous amounts of slivered almonds on top and the bread melted in my mouth. The chocolate one I tried the next day was as equally seductive and was filled with a delicious chocolate ganache, the taste of which I have yet to shake off. The store bustled as regulars placed their orders with purpose, chatting with the staff and then hurrying off to work or for errands. The shelves were stocked frequently with freshly made baguettes, salads, sandwiches and soups and the place itself, although small, was clean and the food was presented with a great deal of pride. The staff there is extremely friendly, helpful, and immediately welcomed us a regulars.
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