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Panera Bread – Portage

December 23, 2009

  • 5970 S. Westnedge Avenue
  • Portage, MI 49002
  • (269) 373-3800
  • Website
  • Menu

I was hoping we could go all week without eating out.  With my brother in town this past weekend, we ate out a lot more than we usually do.  Call it laziness, but I have been really uninspired lately when it comes to cooking.  I pulled out a carton of eggs from the fridge and was getting ready to fry up a couple eggs for lunch.  The problem is, J doesn’t like eggs, so I was sort of being selfish. 

As I was heating up the pan, J said she wanted some soup.  She really means only one thing when she says she wants soup, so I put the eggs away, turned off the stove, and hopped in the car.

Panera Bread in Portage is on South Westnedge (like every other chain).  It’s on the corner at Milham Road in front of one of the never-ending strip malls.  Being the day before Christmas Eve, the parking lot was packed and they were all inside Panera. 

J’s a huge Panera fan.  I love their breakfast, but only like the menu the rest of the day.  I don’t mind it, but I think it’s a bit pricey.  It is quality food though, so I can’t complain too much. 

The rest of Portage must agree with J.  The place was pretty busy and it was closer to 2:00, so the lunch rush should have been winding down. 

The order area is divided into two areas.  Immediately when you walk in is the bakery area.  They were really running low on baked goods.  I actually watched a woman with two kids throw a fit because they were out of a the bagel she wanted.   After being told three times they were out, she made the poor cashier go into the back to see if there were any more after being told they don’t have any in the back.  Everything comes out to the front.  Still, she wouldn’t take no for an answer, so the cashier went to the back looked both ways then came back out and said there were none.  She left in a huff cussing the girl because she couldn’t get her bagel.  Merry Christmas!

The line for the cafe section was almost out the door.  There were two cash registers open and, of course, there was a woman on a cell phone who was holding up the line.  She wasn’t ordering for anyone but herself, but she couldn’t put the damn phone down for two seconds to complete the order.  She was talking to both the cashier and the person on the phone.  I just don’t get people sometimes.

When we finally got to the front of the line (it really took over ten minutes) we were ready.  We came prepared.  I thought J was going to try their new Macaroni & Cheese which is made with Vermont White Cheddar.  She didn’t.  I was disappointed because I planned on stealing some of it from her.  Instead, she went with tomato basil soup and the Smokehouse Turkey Panini.  Normally, she would do the “You Pick Two” which gives you half of each, but she really wanted a whole cup of soup.  The extra half of a sandwich would be good for lunch the next day, so she didn’t do the pick two deal. 

I go back and forth between two sandwiches when I do eat lunch at Panera. I should have just said screw it and got the Mac & Cheese, but I went with my old standby, the Asiago Roast Beef.  We added a Pepsi and a Green Tea to the order which came out to a total of just over twenty-one bucks.  Like I mentioned earlier, a little pricey, but you know you’re getting quality food.

I grabbed my cup and went to the Pepsi machine to fill up.  J’s green tea came from behind the counter so she had to wait on that.  We stood near the pick up counter waiting for her name to be called.  It took quite a while again and I finished off my Pepsi, so I got another.  J drank about half of her green tea and since there were no refills, she added some iced tea to the glass.  I guess some places call it a turtle tea. 

When J’s name was called, we grabbed the bag and got the heck out of there being careful not to spill the soup in the bag.

We got home and unwrapped the sandwiches.  J’s looked delicious.  The Smokehouse turkey is smoked turkey breast, smoked bacon, smoked cheddar, and sun-dried tomato ale mustard that is grilled on the Artisan Three Cheese Bread.  She mentioned that she like the mustard which is like nothing she’s ever had before.  She offered up a quarter of her sandwich to me because what she really wanted for lunch right now was the soup.  The sandwich came with an apple that she put away to take to work with her tomorrow.

The soup was exactly what she was hoping for.  She was a little disappointed that they only put three croutons in the bag, but she sat at our kitchen table and finished the whole bowl.  They throw in a baguette which is really good when you soften it up a little by dipping it in the soup.

The Asiago Roast Beef is one of two sandwiches that I usually get from Panera.  It’s oven-roasted roast beef, lettuce, tomato, smoked cheddar, red onion, and a creamy horseradish sauce on Asiago Cheese Demi.  In a complete 360 from my stand on white condiments, I actually sort of like the horseradish sauce.  I don’t like how much they put on, but after scrapping most of it off, I love the tangy taste that’s left.  I’d really prefer a horseradish mustard, but what they have isn’t bad.  The bread is delicious and really my favorite part of Panera.   My sandwich came with chips.  They’re a Panera brand, but they’re the size of a small bag of one of the name brands.  They’re a good finish to the meal.

I can do Panera Bread every now and then for J.  She got me going to the place because she always claimed it was “healthy.”  The sandwiches I get aren’t really all that healthy calorie wise, but at least they’re not deep fried.  Still, they are pretty delicious and that really means more to me than anything.  When it comes to breakfast, Panera is my first choice.  For lunch, it’s up there, but not someplace I usually go on my own.

Tomato Basil Soup

Smokehouse Turkey Panini

Asiago Roast Beef

Panera Bread on Urbanspoon

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