|Paper cups – showing Panera's fast food credentials.|
When I first visited Panera Bread I was a little unsure whether I liked it or not. It has a fast food store formula, combined with a bit of the Starbucks methodology of a separate area where you can put skimmed or whole milk in your tea and coffee. There's a bank of cashier terminals behind which is the store's menu displayed overhead like in a McDonald's.
Panera offers up a very spacious environment and, it has to be said, a homely atmosphere. It's even got a private dining area and larger tables for those who want to conduct meetings.
What I found impressive, apart from the cheap prices – $11.30 for a Power Sandwich (ham, egg and cheese) a Bear Claw (a pastry of which I'll explain more in a second or two), a hot tea (a ginger and orange concoction that was very enjoyable) and a bottle of fresh orange juice – was that the portions were not huge. You might think that a Power Sandwich would be a huge sub overflowing with crap, but it was just under the size of a normal sandwich in the UK and, it has to be said, was so tasty I could have ordered another
The pastries were a little on the large side and I discovered what I believe to be the best pastry ever – the Bear's Claw. I don't know what's in it, but in essence it's a Danish pastry shaped like a bear's claw and it was delicious. Worth every cent at $1.79 (roughly a quid in the UK, although, in the UK it would cost the best part of £3.00, probably just under, but equating to roughly $6.00).
I had a Bear's Claw yesterday too and loved it so much I couldn't resist another one this morning. f
Panera Bread is independent from the Quality Inn and is merely sharing the same building, but that's good news for Quality Inn customers and for Quality Inn as it doesn't have to provide a restaurant.
|You can't beat a Bear's Claw – I could eat another one!|
The lift in the hotel has one floor marked as R. This is the Panera Bread floor from where I have just hot-footed it to my hotel room to write this post.
|That's a large plate and a large Danish pastry|
Panera Bread is open throughout the day and right up to around 9pm in the evening. It's good and just what the doctor ordered if you don't like those poncy hotel breakfast services where you're checked in, directed towards a table and then asked if you want tea or coffee and so on. To be honest, I like the poncy breakfast experience, but sometimes a change is as good as a rest.
There are standalone Panera Bread units too. Check out the link by clicking here.