First time trying Panera

In all the time we’ve been here, we have heard about Panera but have never actually gone there. It was just never on our list of places to eat at… I don’t think we would ever have gone if not for a friend of ours who took us there one day. From what I heard, Panera is supposed to have lots of healthy and delicious options.

Does it, though? I saw a lot of white bread and deli meats (bacon, salami, ham) and some soups on the menu. Being in the major that I am, I couldn’t help thinking: okay, white bread equals refined carbohydrates equals blood sugar spikes… and deli meats equals processed foods equals everyone knows processed food is no good for you… and soups? Oh, don’t get me started on the sodium level and the stuff I learned about salt.

I’m not a health freak (lol inside joke) by any means but I was curious to know if the rich  (oh yes, they are) health freaks who eat there regularly actually think Panera is healthy.

We generally don’t order sandwiches at restaurants unless we are at Subway or Togo’s because my mom’s idea is that sandwiches can be made at home for less and better. Almost everything on the menu seemed to be something I could make at home and not have to pay $7 for half a sandwich or buy double the amount at a store for the same price.

Well, anyway, the cashier explained how to order and I went with the roasted turkey and caramelized kale panini. “Did you want half or the whole order?” she asked. She somehow couldn’t tell me exactly how big half was…? “It’s just half an order,” was her very helpful answer. I decided to go with half. It was $6.59 for half an order and I could apparently choose a side of either apple, bread, or chips. I went with bread.

So this is it. This was all it was. Maybe my expectations were too high for a place that seemed to be adored by many folks. I looked down at the panini… disappointed. I paid $6.59 plus tax for this… Can I have my money back and go home and make it myself?

Okay, but the real question in your mind (at least for those of you who haven’t tried Panera) is, was it any good?

It was neither tasty nor yucky. It was just a panini. It would have benefited from having some herbs inside but it was alright. I guess you could say it tasted ‘healthy’ since it wasn’t special in any way that would make you wonder if they had put some ‘extra ingredients’. It tasted like something you would make at home thus the ‘healthiness’ factor, I suppose.

Who serves cold, hard, and dry bread? Panera does. Who likes bread that way? Not me. It was a sorry piece of bread that couldn’t be saved by the pats of butter you tried to put on it. You look at the luscious loaves of bread arranged on racks behind the counter and think, my god, that looks delicious, I’ll have that bread. When it arrives on your plate, you find it COLD and TOUGH. I’m sure I saw a microwave somewhere in their open kitchen. They are certainly generous by giving half a loaf of bread but perhaps they are just trying to rid their kitchen of days-old bread.

The elderly lady who was with us had a hard time trying to rip her bread apart and chew it. I was tempted to ask her if she needed any help shredding it to bits. In the end, she tore the remaining bread into chunks and fed it to the birds who were more than happy to have their go at the stone-cold and rock-hard bread.

My sister got the roasted turkey cranberry flatbread. It, too, lacked any kind of appeal except maybe for the fact that it is listed on the site as being a mere 300 calories.

People who don’t know how to make their own sandwiches and have extra money to spend, I get why you love this place. People who do know how to make their own sandwiches and have better things to spend their money on (I don’t know, utility bills and tuition fees), save yourself a trip here.

I’m almost afraid to try Chipotle which is the other place that have people singing praises about…

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