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Dec 30, 2006 07:03 AM

Panera: Pretty Poor

Our first visit to a new local Panera was a bad meal. We used some direct-mailed coupons so we were only out $11. It wasn't busy; the food was fresh but dismal.

The pizza was atrocious--a thin, partial spread of mixed white cheeses on reheated cracker bread. It shouldn't truthfully be called pizza. The "Caesar" dressing was so bland it could have been called "Ranch" or "Salad Cream". The "Asian" salad was pretty awful--no flavor at all in the watery dressing, and instead of the decent, crunchy croutons of the Caesar there were a few Rice-Krispies-like things. The smallish half-sandwich used pressed turkey; fresh turkey is available, piled high, at about the same price half a block away. The best item was the whole grain bread that accompanied the side salad. It was toothy, flavorful, and fresh, but no match for La Brea Bakery, Il Fornaio, and Buona Forchetta loaves on local market shelves, fresh daily and better for less.

Bottom line: Starbucks with low-grade institutional food and poor value for money.

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  1. Is the pizza called pizza? I thought they called it something else......

    Yeah, i hate this place...never ever had a good meal here......i like corner bakery more

    1 Reply
    1. re: Xericx

      I've been to Panera once for lunch. Ordinary at best. I did like the "bagels" that I got with the free coupons I got in the mail, but I haven't been back. Why bother?!

    2. I only go there for breakfast- bagels are fresh, toasted, butter does not cost extra. The small quiches are very nice and warm and the ham and cheese scones are just right. I get the coffee in a ceramic cup and go for refills. The free wifi is the major drawing point for me.

        1. I've never been a fan of Panera because they give you one or two ultra-thin slices of turkey on a $7 sandwich. The first time I went there and took the first bite of my sandwich I thought they'd forgetten the meat entirely.

          I prefer Atlanta Bread Company over Panera anyday (same design and concept, better food), but sadly there's only one in my area that I know of and that's still at least 45 minutes away. They make a darn good chicken salad sandwich, with huge chunks of actual chicken.

          1. Panera's food, according to the nutritional info on their own website, is incredibly fattening. It's like eating at Popeye's. Friends of mine go to Panera thinking they're eating "healthy", then wonder why they can't lose weight.

            2 Replies
            1. re: little audrey

              *snicker* pity the people that don't know how to eat. but seriously, many friends of mine love the place. i once ate before "meeting up" with people there b/c i was a little afraid of the food. if you're not the type to like high-fat carbs w/no nutritional value, why start?

              1. re: little audrey

                no kidding! I can't believe the fat content of their simplest items - the stats on their "bagels" were especially shocking from what I remembered. If you have one of the specialty sandwiches, you may as well have a super-sized meal at mickey d's

                YUK! hate that place.