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Pret A Manger coming to Chicago!

Having lived in London for 3 years I'm really happy that Pret is bringing their fresh lunchtime sandwiches and salads to Chicago. I love the interesting combinations they offer in the UK and hope they don't play it too safe to suit American tastes. I'm really hoping that they will do a Chicken Tikka sandwich. That would make me happy.

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  1. That is awesome! I loved P.A,M when I was in London. Do you have any info on when or where they will be?

    3 Replies
    1. re: lbs

      Opening June 20 at 211 W. Adams Street, according to their website at www.pret.com

      They already have a whole bunch of locations open in New York City.

      1. re: nsxtasy

        I never go to NYC so I'm excited to get one where I live.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Interesting, because I thought PAM was pretty much a failure when they went into the NY market a couple of years ago. I'm surprised they have so many stores still open, but maybe they changed their business concept.

          I saw the stores a couple of years ago in the UK. Not sure their product (at least the UK version) will be that successful here.

      2. I've been coaxing them from afar to open up here for quite a while. Nsxtasy is correct. I was told it would be across from the Sears (Willis) Tower. I was told they will open the end of June/Beginning of July.

        Now we need to get a Marks & Spencer/Sainsbury's/Waitrose food shop and I'll be very content.

        Why are the Brits way ahead of us with delivering fresh, tasty, ready-made goodies?

        8 Replies
        1. re: twodales

          >> Why are the Brits way ahead of us with delivering fresh, tasty, ready-made goodies?

          I don't think they necessarily are. Different concepts develop in different places, and the best of them often travel to other markets. New York City has Jewish delis all over the city where you can walk in and get a freshly made deli sandwich (and we have some of those too, including Steve's, an import from Detroit). Chicago has Garrett's Popcorn and that has spread to New York City. Beard Papa's started in Japan and is spreading across the States, including their new shop in the Loop. All of these places start out with a single shop in whatever city the entrepreneur starts the business, and it takes off from there - across the country and in some cases around the world.

          And it's not like you haven't been able to get freshly made sandwiches and salads already in Chicago till now...

          1. re: nsxtasy

            Nsxtasy first let me say I have always enjoyed your knowledgeable and helpful comments.

            I would like to expand on my comment regarding food quality in the UK. Of course we have good specialty shops here in Chicago.

            I found that the grocery stores in the Uk are far ahead of us regarding the overall quality of produce, ethnic and high end foods. I appreciated the fact that you could walk into a Marks and Spencers store and get an entire meal from starters to dessert and not feel that you'd eaten some boring plastic food.

            I cook from scratch and I enjoy doing so but sometimes you need something quick but don't want to resort to a fast food burger. I have had everything from Vichyssoise to lovely curries to mousaka from M & S/Sainsbury's/Waitrose and been very happy.

            Regarding Pret I enjoyed being able to get a smoked duck or salmon sandwich for lunch on the run. Whether they will have such items at the Chicago branch I don't know but I am hopeful.

          2. re: twodales

            I don't know but at least we are catching up! I really hope they don't dumb down their menu.

              1. re: lbs

                Ive been living between Chicago and London for the past ten years. Yes, UK fresh ready-to-order is better, but it is also usually limited to UK versions of continental food, UK food (roasts, etc), hummus/falafel, and Indian. And on occasion, at least from Chicgao standpoint, some sad attempts at Thai food. Otherwise, forget it.
                Bagels or anything Jewish is nasty, even in Golders Green. Corned Beef (aka Salted Beef), HA, and Mexican/Latin is downright revolting.
                As for dumbing down, really, if we're think UK makes "smart" curries, we are doomed.

                1. re: zoona

                  I agree that the salt beef (corned beef) was not very good in the UK.
                  There are always items that one country does better than another. When I'm in the UK I crave certain foods from here. When I'm here, I miss some UK foods.

                  As for "smart" curries, I take it you don't care for Asian food in the UK? I've had good and I've had bad in both places.

                  I've had some very bad corned beef at Manny's too. The last 2 times I've been there. One more chance and I cross them off of my list. Chewy, stringy, gristly. Yuck!!!

            1. Yay!!! I ate lunch here three times a week in NYC - the chicken mozzarella baguette and the mezze salad are both amazing!

              1. Although I'm rather glad Pret is coming to Chicago, the menu is drastically different from the London version. I'm not asking for a Victorian sandwich here, but I wanted to at least see a Ploughman's. I'm hoping Cheddar and Chutney is the equivalent, because I can never bother to go hunt for a good strong Cheddar AND pickles AND good bread AND assemble it before I dash off. Thought they had Coronation Chicken too (not that I want it, I bought my first coronation chicken sandwich at Tescos way back when and cannot tolerate it ever since)... well well, we can only hope, I'd think.

                But unfortunately I was never graced with any truly good cuisine in Britain. Curry should not taste sweet (and EVERY CURRY SHOP TASTES SWEET...) and salt should be in Spanish dishes. I'll freely admit that I'm particular to British home cuisine (I mean, my family still eat Sunday roast every Sunday and pie on every Monday) but other than that the food is very far from good.

                Not that American food is good either... but then again I never eat out if I can help it and the only frozen groceries we buy are vegetables, so I'm no judge on salmon pinwheels from any brand.

                Can we have PAUL in Chicago now, please? I'm dying for their sesame Camembert.

                (yes, the majority of the post above is sarcasm. But I do hope the cheddar's strong enough and they don't use streaky bacon in their sandwiches...)

                3 Replies
                1. re: Gabrielleduvent

                  A nice Ploughman's would be very welcome or a Chicken Tikka sandwich or even a Prawn and Avocado...we can only hope.

                  If you are looking for a good strong cheddar, try the English Coastal Cheddar at Trader Joe's. It's an extra strong white cheddar that you would get in the UK. Pick up some Branston Pickle at an Irish shop, or possibly a supermarket and enjoy away!

                  1. re: twodales

                    Looks like the opening date will be in August now. Location: 211 W. Adams

                  2. re: Gabrielleduvent

                    PAUL would be very welcome too. Real food is what I crave because life is too short to eat anything but...

                  3. Yea!! I used to eat there sometimes during the year I spent working in London in 2000. I wonder how similar it will be. I am not much for getting excited about chains (why support a chain when you can spend the same money at an independant business and get most likely much better food). However there are a few I like, one of them being Au Bon Pain, somewhat similar to Pret a Manger.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: misalm

                      I'm with you on most chains. I would be happy however, if Marks and Spencers were to open up a food shop here too.

                      1. re: twodales

                        September 2010. I wonder what the hold up is?????

                        1. re: twodales

                          "September 2010. I wonder what the hold up is?????"

                          Really? Delays for a restaurant opening in Chicago? Especially a chain restaurant 800 miles from the next closest location? I can make you a (long) list of possibles....

                          1. re: ferret

                            I think the first date was June.

                            I know nothing about the restaurant biz. I'm always willing to learn. What might some of the problems be? Is it Politics? Normal Bureaucracy?

                            1. re: twodales

                              I don't know anything about the restaurant business either. But having done a home remodeling project, any construction project can have delays arising for all sorts of reasons. Staffing and subcontracting issues head the list - when you're ready to do the electrical, the electrical subcontractor is in the middle of something else and can't be there for two weeks, stuff like that. Permits and inspections are another issue - you can't call the city inspector until you're ready, his first appointment is a week later, and when he looks at it, he comes up with violations that need to be corrected, sometimes for the most obscure technical reason - then it takes you two weeks to bring back the guy who needs to correct it, another week to schedule the inspector, and so forth. Throw in issues arising from managing the project from a distance - maybe their corporate folks have to come in at certain points to approve progress - and it's easy to see how delays can pile on top of each other.

                              1. re: nsxtasy

                                Union laborers were out on strike for 3 weeks.

                                1. re: Beverator

                                  Three weeks for that, two weeks for something else... it all adds up.

                                  Thanks for the update!

                                  1. re: nsxtasy

                                    Sounds like fun! Thanks for the lesson.

                                    1. re: twodales

                                      Random: walked past it this morning and the door was opened. Looks like it wil be at least another couple of weeks. No kitchen set up, no basic structure besides the bare bones set up. Looks like they were putting in electricty. I'm excited that it will be next to the Protein Bar which is a great place for a healthy lunch in the loop especially if you are a veggie/vegan.

                    2. Their menu doesn't look that exciting to me. No curry sandwiches. No cheese/branston pickle.



                      1. FYI, it opened today. Predictably crowded but they moved traffic along very swiftly.

                        1. I tried Pret a Manger for the first time last week in London. So excited. I hope there will be more locations than just the one on Adams.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: chicgail

                            They're also opening at LaSalla and Madison. It's pretty much a given that they'll have multiple locations.

                          2. I went to Pret a Manger in the Loop for lunch today, my first time there. Like already stated here, they have freshly-made sandwiches (half sizes also available) as well as salads, soups, and breads. The sandwiches are tasty; the bread is fresh but they are rather skimpy on the sandwich fillings. I tried a soup and it was just okay. I also tried a croissant and it was excellent. The staff is very enthusiastic and helpful.

                            I don't get all the excitement; it just didn't seem all that different from Panera Bread or Au Bon Pain.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: nsxtasy

                              nsxtasy: I think it is because the British version has more adventurous sandwich options. For example: Chicken Tikka sandwiches, Ham and sweetcorn, Prawn and avocado, Smoked salmon, Crayfish and Rocket, Strong Cheddar with chutney or Branston pickle, Hoisin Duck wraps and so on.

                              Some of us were hoping they would do the same over here.

                              1. re: twodales

                                For some of those, they do. For example, they have a shrimp and avocado sandwich with sweet chili sauce; in fact, it was one of the things I tried. Unfortunately, there wasn't much shrimp or avocado in it. I don't see the point of having unusual ingredients if you don't provide very much of them in the sandwich. Especially when people can find a lot more filling in the sandwiches from competitors. :)

                                FWIW, most of the ones you mention don't sound particularly appealing to me. But they could give them a try; maybe they already have, either here or in New York, and are just continuing the ones that sold well (e.g. shrimp and avocado), and no longer sell the ones that didn't sell well here.

                              2. re: nsxtasy

                                nsxtasy, you are right that the croissants are excellent. Very similar to ones they sell in France, they melt-in-your mouth and are perfect for dunking in coffee :)