Just days after a lively discussion among our editorial team on the pros and cons of communal tables, I found my party of four seated at one in a New York outpost of Le Pain Quotidien. Since I was in the Greta Garbo camp — “I want to be alone” — the incident was ironic and unexpectedly delightful. I did not leave with newfound friends, but I did get to see a variety of prepared dishes, eavesdrop on a little French and enjoy more room than I would have had at a ...

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