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Panera Bread v. grocery store bakery

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I have one great bakery near me, but they close early and unless I remember to go at lunch to get bread I'm out of luck. Other than that its the Hannaford bakery or the Price Chopper bakery. A new Panera opened near me, very convenient and open when I leave work.

How is the bread as compared to regular supermarket chain bakeries? (no Trader Joes or Whole Foods near me, just Hannaford, Grand Union or Price Chopper).

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  1. I think the loaves Panera makes are excellent. Their bagels are too airy and inauthentic. Their danish are meh - tend to be dry. Cookies are nothing special. But the breads, particularly the multigrain and the Asiago cheese, are worth going out of the way for.

    7 Replies
    1. re: greygarious

      As is their sourdough. On the pastry side, their orange scones are not to be missed.

      1. re: mucho gordo

        One can miss the orange scones here and not feel denied.

      2. re: greygarious

        I agree, their pastries are ordinary. I do like their bagels and their bread is fantastic. We received a gift card from a relative and ate so much sourdough bread!

        1. re: libgirl2

          Bread is definitely awesome - sourdough...YUM! The asiago is pretty darned good too. I have to disagree on the bagels, though. Those aren't really bagels - not quite sure what they are, but not bagels!

          1. re: jbsiegel

            Another addict of the sourdough and asiago here!

            1. re: ForFoodsSake

              I never pass a Panera without stopping for a large sourdough loaf to bring home.

              1. re: ForFoodsSake

                I feel that they add too much asiago to their bread; one cannot taste the bread for the cheese - where I shop.

        2. that raisin bread of theirs is excellent.

          1. Thanks. It is nice to have the option of picking up a decent loaf of bread at the last minute.

            1. I've had very good luck with their breads. Scones are good too. And I confess a weakness for their chocolate pastry ( sort of a pain au chocolat) about once every six weeks or so.

              1. I had the asiago loaf last week. It was not bad, but I'm not a huge sourdough base fan and this seemed quite sour. I will be going back to try the baguettes and others. It was very nice to be able to pop in after work and pick up a good loaf without fighting the grocery store traffic as well.

                1. bread is fine!

                  I agree with others about the bagels though.... SO not actually bagels!!!! omg!!!

                  1. tried their French Miche last week, it's very good

                    1. Bread is quite good. Its the best thing they do. I disagree about their pastries, and their shortbread cookies, which are great temptations to me.

                      1. The breads are not too bad. Certainly better than supermarket in-store bakery breads. But not nearly as good as what you'd find in a family owned ethnic bakery, if you're lucky enough to have one near you.
                        Panera's breads seem fairly generic to me, and definitely somewhat overpriced. But yes...I would agree that in some areas, they are sometimes much better than other available options despite the shortcomings.

                        1. We're fans of the tomato-basil loaf and my dh enjoys the egg bakes (served in the morning only). But the bagels are not to our liking either. I do love their bottomless coffee bar. Once I figured out how to make their version of a Mediterranean sandwich (which uses the tomato-basil bread, veggies, a spicy pesto) I stopped buying it and now make it at home often..but I buy their loaf. Also during the Christmas holiday I bought several of their holiday panettone as gifts and everyone loved them. (btw, I bake homemade bread every week!)