Tasty sandwich, good idea, poor attention to detail
I have been to Panera Bread on Archer Rd. several times for breakfast, and I have been impressed with the way they move customers through the ordering, pick-up process in a very deliberative lunch line protocol. This would be my first lunch experience at PB.
Panera Bread is not for the weak at heart. A plethora of staffers and many customers waiting behind me to place my order gave me the sense I better have my lunch order ready. Panera Bread has several meatless options on their menu including a Tomato Mozzarella Panini, a Mediterrean Veggie Sandwich, Caesar and Greek salads, and three vegetarian pasta dishes. There is a complete Panera Bread menu at the restaurant web link below.
This restaurant bustles with activity from the lines of customers waiting for their orders, to regular customers finding a nook or cranny in this large lunch stop to study or just hang out as well as to eat lunch.
The service is friendly, albeit assembly-line driven. Ordering is a two-step process. First you order lunch at one counter, then you're sent to another counter in the further depths of the Panera Bread food line to wait for your name to be called out. The wait for my lunch to appear on the pick-up counter was a little longer than I anticipated. However that did allow me time to take a few extra photographs of this big box lunch stop.
My PB lunch choice was the Fontina Grilled Cheese with tomato and spicy, pickled peppers. FROM THE PANERA BREAD MENU: "Vermont white cheddar, fontina, reduced-fat chive & onion cream cheese spread and a four cheese Italian blend grilled on our freshly baked, thick sliced All-Natural White Bread."
The FGC flavors were an extraordinarily delightful combination with the Fontina cheese a recognizable flavor punch in each bite. The peppers were tangy enough to be noticeable in this grilled cheese sandwich four-part harmony.
Although the flavors of my lunch received high marks. I was disappointed with my lunch presentation, starting with a marginally heated sandwich such that the tiny squares of cheese strips in my sandwich were not even melted. The freshly bake white bread resulted in a a C-Minus experience, and then I noticed the bread one one side of the sandwich had grill marks but the other side did not. I'm guessing my sandwich was thrown on the grill until the alarm went off, then it was thrown at me.
I thought about taking my lunch back and to have it prepared correctly. But you know what? The restaurant wins. I was slow getting my order. If I had gone back I would be taking it to lunch staffers who didn't do it right in the first place and probably could have cared less about order #248-Mike a happy customer. Plus what about all the stares of folks waiting for their lunch.
I don't know GLOBers, the Panera Bread lunch process is working for an awful lot of people. Big box lunch stops just don't seem to make my salivary glands sing.
The Pluses and Minuses of Panera Bread:
Panera Bread + indicators: Good sandwich ideas, Fontina grilled cheese was all right.
Panera Bread - indicators: High school cafeteria like approach to lunch, food haphazardly prepared entrees. Crowded, noisy, sterile lunch environment.
Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Panera Bread. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!
Food Adventurer fights flu with hearty soup
By: Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent
The heat and humidity, which encompass all that is a Florida summer, are finally beginning to wither under fall's mighty hand. A slight, cool breeze, brushing the cheeks of the flushed Gainesville residents and students walking outside under the blazing sun, offers some welcome relief from the heat. With this season change comes a challenge on the body in the form of cold/flu season. This food adventurer's immune system has lost this battle, and since then I have thought of nothing but a hearty, warm remedy for even the worst of sicknesses.
While not the biggest fan of soup unless it is my mom's homemade bowls of heaven, one of my favorite soups, albeit not the most original, is found at Panera Bread. It's the first place I think of when I'm not home and I need a quick, feel good soup – who wants to do anything with effort when they're sick anyway? Note: Again, I do not usually eat soup, so Panera is probably the only place I give my money to for it. Now, I know it is not the fanciest dining establishment, nor does it have the most original menu items, but again, when you are sick it does the trick.
One of my favorite moments at Panera Bread on Archer Road is when first walking through the front doors. After pulling open the glass door, a gust of sweet, sugar-filled air engulfs you. The smell of the baked goods residing at the front of the counter closest to the entrance is so aromatic it's as if the sugar, cinnamon, and chocolate coating the baked buns, croissants, and cakes are floating through the air, taunting customers as they enter. I resist the transparent display case of sweet pastries to reach my intended goal: order, eat, and reap the benefits of hot soup. There is a complete Panera Bread menu at the link below.
I resist ordering the bread bowl of soup, as I am trying to limit my carb intake, and order a cup of soup, a half salad and a low-fat wild berry smoothie. This adventurer, despite my slightly less sharp state due to the cold, still had to try something new. The BBQ Chicken Salad piqued my interest – who could resist a salad with a barbeque sauce drizzle? The half salad (right) was a much larger portion than I had expected and was packed with ingredients: Warm slices of grilled chicken rested atop a bed of leafy greens mixed with tortilla chip strips, corn, and black beans, all brushed with the faintest swipe of that bbq sauce dressing that drew me to choosing the salad in the first place. It was almost too much alongside my cup of soup, which brings me to the main reason I was there.
The only soup I ever order at Panera has everything I need in a soup while I'm under the weather. It is Panera's hearty, creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup (pic at top) that keeps me coming back for more. Again, while it is in no comparison to the homemade bowls of excellence my mom makes, it was a fast and delicious alternative. I'm always pleased at the chunks of broccoli smothered beneath the sea of cheesy broth, as they are never mushy. It is served hot and well seasoned and has an appealing thick consistency while not being overwhelmingly stuffy. I always look forward to tearing off pieces of the bread served with any order of soup; the crispy edges and fluffy insides make for the perfect spoon substitute to scrape off each and every bit of soup left in the bowl when a spoon just won't do the trick.
Even the smoothie, which I have never tried at Panera and am typically very skeptical of anywhere, was a welcome addition to a very filling meal. The smooth, rich flavors of the wild berry-flavored treat actually complemented the crispness of the salad and warmth of the soup, creating a varying texture and temperature sensation. I find that if everything being consumed is a similar temperature and consistency, it becomes less appealing.
For those of you who are in a similar plight with a susceptible immune system and a busy lifestyle, what is better than an easily obtained comfort food, even if it just makes you feel a little better? There is no miracle elixir — although I wouldn't be surprised if my mother patented her matzo ball soup as such — but Panera's Broccoli Cheddar has yet to disappoint this flu-ed food adventurer.
The Pluses and Minuses of Panera Bread:
Panera Bread + indicators: Hearty, healing, homestyle substitute though not as good as Mom's.
Panera Bread - indicators: There are no substitutes for my mother--healthy or otherwise.
Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions aboutPanera Bread. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!
- Phone Number: 352 380-0380
- Address: 3443 SW Archer Rd., Gaineville, FL
- Urban GLOB Location: Archer Road
- Web Site: Panera Bread
- Latitude: 29.625244
- Longitude: -82.373698
Celeste Monday, 17 November 2014 11:03 Comment Link
A friend of mine worked nights baking at Panera in Gainesville. He said everything is delivered to the store frozen and they bake it at night - often while smoking cigarettes! I have never understood the love people have for this place. I think they are overpriced and not very good. Plus, their employees are not treated very well because "in a college town, everyone is replaceable quickly," according to my friend's boss back then.