After our lunch at Blaze Pizza, we wanted to grab some coffee and came across Panera Bread on Yonge. Like Blaze Pizza, Panera Bread is a US chain and they feature bakery products, sandwiches, and salads. Panera Bread along with sister bakery-cafes, Saint Louis Bread Co. and Paradise Bakery & Café, have over 1,900 locations in the US and in Ontario (now, that’s a lot!). I had never been to any Panera Bread location before and was interested to see how they are compared to the beloved, Tim Hortons, in Canada.
Panera Bread Menu
Panera Bread offers your typical café fare like soups, sandwiches, pastries, paninis, and salads. Aside from that, they freshly bake bread ever day and sell them by the loaf. You can select from an array of artisan bread including sourdough, honey wheat, ciabatta, and rye.
For the health conscious, the number of calories is listed on the labels. Otherwise, skip the math particularly for the baked goods. Just looking at them and you’ll know that they are nutritional catastrophes!
One major difference between Panera Bread and Tim Hortons is that Panera Bread offers a sit-down style restaurant if you dine in. You receive a pager and employees bring you the food when it is ready. In this sense, customers get a higher level of service compared to fast-food competitors.
The Yonge location of Panera bread has two levels. I found the second floor to be very spacious and quiet even though there were many customers.
What We Tried
The baked goods on display were undoubtedly mouthwatering. We tried two of the more decadent pastries: the Bear Claw and the Cobblestone.
The Bear Claw (570 calories) had an almond filling and was drizzled with icing and sliced almonds. The texture of the pastry was buttery and crispy on the outside, but too sweet in my opinion. The sliced almonds added a nice chewy texture overall.
The Cobblestone was 10 calories less than the Bear Claw (560 calories) and was made of a cinnamon raisin swirl bread dough mixed with chunky apple spice filling and topped with streusel and white icing. It was also too sweet for my liking but the texture of the bread was reasonably tender and feathery.
My pumpkin spiced latte (450 calories) had well-balanced flavours of pumpkin spice and salted caramel syrup.
Overall Impression of Panera Bread
After eating 1,000+ calories at Panera Bread, I found all the food to be just average. It was in line with what you would expect from a chain that mass produces food. The baked goods were excessively sweet though not surprising given their sugary appearance and their caloric information is presented on the labels afterall. My sweet tooth is satisfied but a little more than I wanted. Rating: 3/5