A Bunch of Stuff From Panera
I had to pick up a day's worth of food from Panera this morning. This is what I got:
1. Wild Blueberry Scone: Delicious. Best thing I've had from Panera in a long time.
2. Everything Bagel: Horrible. Bordering on stale. I should have taken the guy up on his offer to toast it, but at 11 AM allegedly fresh bagels usually don't require toasting.
3. Italian Combo: A beautiful, hefty sandwich that was utterly tasteless. How is that possible? It reminded me of that Stephen King story in which some people found themselves at the Bangor airport, but in an alternate universe. The food they found looked normal but had no taste.
Lagniappe: Instead of the usual bread samples, they had generous samples of their Baked Egg Souffles. Very good -- I would definitely order one of these if I found myself at Panera again.
Some of the other pastries looked really good, but appearances can deceive at Panera.
So, a very mixed bag.
Used to love Panera...then got tired of 10 bucks for lunch that kept getting worse.
Used to love the french onion...now its kinda greasy and hardly an onion to be found. Anyone else notice that on take-out containers the lids are so cheap when they set the crouton container on them, it touches the soup and MELTS? Yes, the word of the day is MESS.
Used to love the veggie...not so great anymore
Used to love the italian...not so great anymore
Will always love Fuji Apple Chicken Salad and Roast Beef Something or other
NEVER liked their sweet baked goods.
My own editorial comment is that Panera was much better when it was the St. Louis Bread Co. Sometime in the 90s, they went corporate. Before that, they were a smaller chain with locations in the St. Louis area and a few more throughout Missouri. Like just about everything else, corporatization was great for the company, but not so great for the food. I noticed the biggest downturn in the freshness of their vegetables.
It still is a pretty good place to get a semi-decent lunch, but it's not the bargain it used to be. There are non-chains in my area that are just as good for the soup/salad thing. When I was in college you could count on Bread Co for something tasty and healthy that would fill you up at a dirt cheap price.
That said, my favorites there are the pumpkin muffins and the greek salad.
Interesting note--it is still called St. Louis Bread Co., at stores in the St. Louis metro area.
Panera was a whole bunch of different "insert-city-here Bread Company" restaurants - it was the Atlanta Bread Company in the Southeast. I find Panera to be a huge improvement over ABC, especially with the addition of hot sandwiches. Although the Asiago bagel didn't change, which in my book is a very good thing. :-)
Actually, the Bangor airport IS an alternative universe, and the food really is tasteless. There's one small cafeteria and one bar upstairs near the gates, and the only thing they serve are industrially deflavorized burgers, dogs, and sandwiches.
On the other hand, it's the first piece of US soil returning GIs from Iraq see on their way home, and to them it's heaven. The Maine Troop Greeters bring in home-cooked treats for them.