Panera with my family. Or: A refreshing change from the usual suspects.

I’ve got a confession to make. I don’t like sandwiches. It’s not like I hate ’em, but I think that the concept of having some sliced meats, vegetables, and a bit of sauce just plastered there on a bun (or two) is very blah. Nothing’s really ‘cooked’, y’know? Now I know that there are sandwiches that are a bit more ‘complex’ out there, like a pulled pork sandwich or perhaps a Philly cheesesteak, but for the most part when you talk about sandwiches, you get an awful lot of variants of BLT or turkey club. Or worse.

This is worse.

This is worse.

Why am I telling you this? Well this indifference to plain ol’ sandwiches causes me to not really be a big fan of breads and pastries. I like ’em just fine, but I won’t be going out of my way to look for them. So rest assured, Tim Hortons fans, there will be one less person in line on most days because I won’t be there to clog it up.

I do love that Tim Hortons chicken noodle soup though, especially when I’m not feeling too hot. But I digress yet again.

Due to my ho-hum attitude to sandwiches, you can imagine that I wasn’t overly enthralled about visiting Panera Bread with my family. I mean the NAME of the restaurant has the word ‘bread’ in it, so I knew what I was getting in to. I just agreed that we should pay a visit to it because I know my mom loves this stuff, and it would be a nice change that we, as a family, would go visit an upscale sandwich joint. Big difference compared to our regular jaunts to Chinese/Japanese/other Asianese restaurants.

When I walked in, I was pretty impressed at how clean, sleek, and inviting the place is. This is no Mr. Sub or Tim Hortons, rather this was if Quizno’s mated with Starbucks. Everything seems shiny, new, and family-friendly. Sure, it may not be ‘grungy-vintage’ or whatever it is that hipsters are into these days, and sure it emanates a very suburban feel. But as I said in my Daisuki Sushi post, I’m totally cool with being a 100% suburban guy. And this place totally spells out ‘suburban’. With a capital S.

All that's missing is a white picket fence and a dog named Fido.

All that’s missing is a white picket fence and your 2.5 kids.

Again, I’ve said that I wasn’t so big on sandwiches. But I AM big on bacon. And cheese. So imagine my absolute batsh*t insane joy when I saw, on the menu item, that Panera has grilled cheese sandwich with bacon. Bacon INSTANTLY makes everything better, and bacon with cheese is just….just….I mean LOOK AT IT!

There really are no words. *weeps in joy*

Look. At. It.

The whole sandwich is loaded with taste (and, sadly, tons of sodium no doubt). It has a slight sweetness from the bacon, with tons of savoury and cheesy flavours literally melting in your mouth. The bread was perfectly done, not too crispy and not underdone. To top it off, you also get some of Panera’s own kettle-cooked chips to go with it. Now, WW and my family had some of the other, more common sandwiches (there was a turkey club there somewhere) which were also not bad and very fresh-tasting, but like I said before, if you’re a sandwich and you want to impress me, you better stand out (and none of this cold sandwich nonsense, thank you very much). No no. You damn well should try my grilled cheese sandwich instead. It’s even called Big Kid Grilled Cheese or something like that.

And I’m DEFINITELY a big kid.

Overall, I would recommend this place. The place is nice, the service is very friendly and welcoming, and everything looks so shiny and polished. It’s located in a new strip mall dubbed “Uptown Market”, which I feel is like a heavily scaled down version of the Shops at Don Mills, up in Markham. The sandwiches can get quite expensive, mind you -mine, if taken full size (double what you saw in the pic) would be close to $10 after taxes. So you have to go here with the picture in your head of going for a proper lunch, not as a light in-between snack. That’s when you realize that ten bucks post-taxes is OK.

Until you realize that you could probably get fried rice at a Hong Kong restaurant for $7. Oh well.

–Final verdict: Mari Makan!

Panera Bread

Uptown Market
3987 Highway 7
Unit 1
Markham, ON L3P 3A7


2 thoughts on “Panera with my family. Or: A refreshing change from the usual suspects.

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