As part of the “He Who Knows” challenge, one of the simplest tasks has been to go and describe the Pret-A-Manager experience, but to be honest, I have never really stepped into one for anything other than a bottle of water until this weekend. Of all of the places I have worked and visited so far, there has always been something more enticing than what any massive retail chain has been able to offer me. Having said that, this weekend, I decided to stop in and finally see what all the fuss was about and fully immerse myself in the Pret-A-Manager experience.
When you walk in, like most cafes or takeaway joints that prepare freshly made sandwiches, the choice at Pret can be overwhelming. Pret specialises in freshly pre-packaged food including but not limited to sandwiches, wraps, baguettes, muffins, croissants, and a variety of slices or cakes for dessert. They also prepare fresh coffee and also offer a variety of sides including crisps (chips for those back home) and the standard assortment of drinks.
With food preparation generally taken care of much earlier in advance, Pret also seems to have the process of serving customers well thought out. In the ten minutes that I spent observing them, three people, including those making coffee, seemed to be doing an excellent service by English standards getting through at least 30 people during a ten minute period. You are either handed a plastic bag for take away or a silver platter for eating in, which you have to load your food into/on to and carry to the small circular tables and high chairs more suited for faster eating and less conversing without evidently being too obvious.
Some people appeared to enter just for the coffee, but it did not appear at the same level as those that follow the Starbucks or Café Nero chains on every corner. I was quite pleased with my lunch consisting of a cup of Italian Meatball soup accompanied with some soup bread, followed by a cup of fresh yogurt, crunchy granola and honey all washed down with a bottle of still water with a trace of lime. Although I would not rate Pret cheap food, you definitely get better food than you would at any fast food joint.
I would not go out of my way to visit a Pret with all of the other hidden offerings London can provide, but if you have a choice between McDonalds, Burger King or Pret, definitely hit the latter one.
The Kua Rating: 7 out of 10