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Bread and Beurre

We Know Pain

By Kishan BaskaranPublished 2 years ago 10 min read

Having spent sleepless nights fixing the mistakes of his manager with no recognition, Shawn looked forward to celebrating the end of the work week. Originally craving a burger from a local mom and pop joint in the heart of downtown, his route carried him to a newly constructed restaurant.

Bread and Beurre, written in bold golden letters were hard to ignore. But what really caught his attention was their slogan, “We Know Pain”. Shawn was hardly a risk taker and needed copious amounts of research completed before committing to something, but Shawn was a sucker for wordplay and the cosmos had aligned in such a way that evening that he felt there was no harm in trying it out. Even if the restaurant disappointed his palette, the slogan amused him enough to briefly forget about his exhaustion.

The door handles sent chills up Shawn’s hands. A blissful escape from the relentless heat the town had experienced that day.

“Hello monsieur! Welcome to Bread and Beurre,” met a stunned Shawn who hadn’t completely opened the door yet. The thick French accent of the Maître D’ was inviting yet made Shawn reconsider entering. He wasn’t prepared for a fancy meal when all he craved was a hearty cheeseburger with a fried egg and crispy onions.

By amirali mirhashemian on Unsplash

“Hi, hello there,” escaped John’s lips revealing his nerves.

“I haven’t seen you here before, would you like a brief look at the menu before deciding to sit down?”

“Yes!” The opportunity to consider his options dispelled Shawn’s hesitation. He approached the Maître D’ station with confident strides, determined to say no once he saw the menu.

“Give me a moment, please.”

“Bien sûr, no problem. Would you like some cold water to relieve you of the outside heat, monsieur?”

Eyes widening in delight, as if the Maitre D’ had offered Shawn a free meal, required little need for a verbal response. Without delay, the Maître D’ pulled out a chilled pitcher and glass from his station. The outside condensation slowly formed into beads beads of water.

“Voila monsieur, cold filtered water to quench your thirst! If you would like some ice, I can grab it for you in a moment?”

“No, thank you. I’m okay.” The crystal-clear water was clean, crisp, and refreshing. It took a high degree of willpower to not sigh in delight after taking his first sip. Alert, he glanced back at the menu and saw “cheeseburger”. Atypical for Shawn, he didn’t read through his options. He knew what he craved and wanted a bite as soon as possible.

“Is there a seat available?”

“Bien sûr, monsieur. Come with me.” It was as if the Maître D’ danced to the table Shawn would be seated at. In awe of his movements, Shawn did little to take in the ambience of the place.

“The waiter will be with you shortly.”

“Thanks.” Finally seated, Shawn scanned the room.

The bar at the side of the room was inviting. The lighting was immaculate, highlighting all the hues of amber bottles and ensured the wine bottles were the stars. The Maitre D’ had returned to his station and donned the inviting smile Shawn was met with when he entered.

By Q.U.I on Unsplash

The venue itself was dimly lit. Silhouettes were clear, but it was hard to make out the faces.

“Hello sir, welcome to Bread and Beurre, I’m Pierre and happy to serve you. I must tell you now that my French isn’t the best and I don’t want to butcher such a beautiful language, unless of course, I could pan fry it one day.”

“Haha, that’s quite alright Pierre. I’m very much the same. Despite the years of primary French education I had, all I can really say is Merci beaucoup and hamburger au fromage.” The waiter’s frankness made Shawn feel more at home. He didn’t feel as embarrassed to order his cheeseburger at such a fancy place alone.

“All good sir. Would you some more water or wine as you wait to read through the menu?”

“Can I a pitcher of cold water, no ice, at your earliest convenience? And can I get a cheeseburger?”

“Of course. Now would you like your cheeseburger without the cheese and the burger?”

“So just the bread?” Shawn’s face distorted into a state of confusion?

“Exactly, some would argue our bread is the best thing on the menu”

“Uhm, I’ll just get a full regular cheeseburger.”

“Don’t worry, I was just pulling your leg. I’ll get you the water quickly and let the kitchen know to get to work on your cheeseburger.”

“Aha, good one.” With that, Pierre quickly scurried to the other tables, carrying on his banter before he slipped out of sight.

Before long, Shawn was tilting his head back, sipping the last of his water. The air was chilled with the AC on, but Shawn couldn’t get enough of the refreshing feeling.

As if anticipating the last sip, Pierre made his way from the shadows. Carefully filling Shawn’s glass and then setting down the pitcher on the center of the table.

“Complimentary fresh bread baked from the volcanic kiln that is our oven and organic butter from France that’s more well traveled than I am,” expressed Pierre, extremely proud of his story telling.

“I look forward to it!”

“Let me know if you want to change up your cheeseburger order later. This is the same type of bread used for our burgers, just toasted to handle the weight of all the toppings.”

“Mer ci beaucoup,” Shawn said sheepishly, excited to put his years of primary French education to use. “I doubt I want to remove the cheese and the burger, but I’ll let you know.”

By Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Shawn’s eyes glazed over the bread. The light danced on the amber crust as if it belonged on the bar shelf. Flecks of salt made to look like the bread was finished with a sprinkle of diamond dust, unearthed from the veins that revealed the ivory webbing inside. Made to look like pillows, Bread and Beurre took the meaning of comfort food to a new level, foreshadowing the itis their patrons would experience.

The butter served so thinly as sheets that the porcelain plate underneath could still be admired. There was a not-so-hidden message beneath the butter, “You can always get seconds. ;)” Shawn was quite entertained. If they were going to name their restaurant Bread and Beurre, they really had to bring their A-game. Especially since they knew pain.

What was once a pillow, now a treasure chest of flavours waiting to be discovered. The bread was torn effortlessly, releasing wafts of steam from the sea of pores. A pleasant fragrance ambushed Shawn’s nose, causing him to salivate uncontrollably.

Cautiously, he sparsely placed the butter he had divided onto the bread, blanketing the ivory pearls and filling the craters with pools of liquid gold. The flavour was simple yet refined. Every chew melted the airy fluff, only inviting Shawn to take another bite. Every bite more welcoming than the last, without the feeling that he’d get tired from it. Taking his time with the last two morsels he had left, Pierre approached.

“You know, I have your cheeseburger here. But I can get you another round of the bread and butter or remove the cheese and burger from your order?”

“Haha. The bread was divine. I don’t know how to describe it, but it was too good to just be a complimentary item. I could eat that all day if I could.”

“That’s amazing. I’ll let the baker know. In the meantime, here’s your hamburger au fromage. Oh no, that was terrible, let me do it again. Here’s your cheeseburger, I hope you enjoy it.”

“Hey, what’s that still on your tray?” Despite getting his food, something else caught Shawn's attention.

“Oh, this?” Pierre’s lips turned softly into a smirk as if ready to humour Shawn. “This is our ‘Death by Chocolate’. A single bite, and you’ll be calling on the bread you just finished to be your eternal pillow in the afterlife. Although not too sweet, the chocolate will enrich your veins with happiness and ease your soul. Seven layers of rich chocolate cake, with thin layers of chocolate buttercream, topped with a decadent ganache. It’s finished with a sprinkling of salt and I know that’s weird, but trust me it works. I recommend having it with out bergamot blossom tea; it’ll refresh your palette and give you enough life for another bite. It’s truly fitting for an end to your meal, just make sure you have no plans after.”

By Kanwardeep Kaur on Unsplash

By Lidiya Pavlikova on Unsplash

“You’re really trying to sell it, haha. I’ll think about it. Let’s see if I can get through my cheeseburger first.”

“Very well. Let me know if you need anything, I’ll be around” And like that, Pierre disappeared into the shadows once more.

Shawn couldn’t contain his excitement. The highlight to his week was before him, but he took a moment. The bread alone was so good, he didn’t know if he could handle the intensity of the cheeseburger. Although that worry quickly subsided as he started to salivate again, his appetite restless for another bite.

As Pierre mentioned, it was the same bread for the bun. Reflecting the light across its sheened surface, with the edges of the bun slightly toasted. There was a bed of crispy onions atop the burger itself. Deep fried to a golden brown. Shawn hadn’t taken notice of the ingredients, but he was pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, there was no fried egg with a golden pool waiting to be popped on his burger. Regardless, the two patties had a deep brown colour, each blanketed by slices of melted brie. It was as if the patties wore a skirt to dress up the experience Shawn was about to have.

Trained in the lost art of eating burgers, Shawn prepared himself. Enveloping the front of the burger with his thumbs and index fingers, he slid his pinky fingers underneath, completing his grip by letting down his remaining fingers. Staring the burger down as it floated to his mouth. His bite was met with little resistance and then the snaps of the fried onions provided satisfying percussion. His teeth like a hot knife, cut through the remaining layers of the melted brie and warm burger patty easily. He didn’t notice it at first, but the inside of the top and bottom buns were coated with a light garlic aioli that elevated the first bite experience.

A symphony of textures and flavours put Shawn at ease. Unsure of what to expect, he was delighted he took a risk. They had somehow managed to get rid of the gamey taste beef burgers usually had and none of the flavours were too overwhelming. The onions added a satisfying textural layer, almost as if fireworks were setoff with each bite. And the bread! There were no complaints to be had about the bread. It just worked with everything.

Needing to adjust the waist of his pants, he noticed a figure approaching.

“How is your burger sir? And would you still like a slice of our chocolate cake?” Pierre said, revealing a satisfied grin.

“This is far too good. And oh no, I’m far too full to eat anymore. Can I get the bill please?”

“Of course, Just one moment.” As Pierre was walking away, Shawn took in the ambience of the restaurant once more. Such an inviting place. Dimly lit, yet bursting with warmth from the staff to the food. Shawn didn’t know what to expect when he walked through those doors, but he was already anticipating the bread for his next visit and imagining the ‘Death by Chocolate’ slice he missed out on this time.

“Here’s your bill sir. I hope you’ve enjoyed your stay with us here at Bread and Beurre. And as you’re already well aware, we know pain.”

Short Story

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