We drove to the main entrance of Gulf View Square Mall, and found Panera Bread, right as you turn in. Their parking area was busy, but you can park anywhere in the mall. We guessed it would be very busy inside.
I opened the door, and figured it would be a self service type of place. I was right. There were ‘Take Out’ menus as you went in, and I picked one up to look at the menu items, before getting to the area where you place your order.
The tables with 4 seats were all gone, so we squeezed into a tiny table, with 2 chairs, right up against the wall. The ones in the middle were round, and had more room, but they were taken.
I opened the menu and suggested to Len that we have the “You pick 2” that are, a cup of soup, half cafe sandwich, half cafe salad. He thought that was fine, and left it up to me.
I wasn’t quite ready when I was called up to the counter. I told the gentleman that it was my first time, and that I might take a couple of minutes. He said that was fine, and if he could be of any help.
I told him that we would both have the ‘You pick 2’. I asked what soups they had, and he pointed to the board, and listed them for me. I chose broccoli cheddar for Len, and he said “Good choice”, and I went for the Cuban chicken sandwich for him, as I knew he would like it.
I also decided on the broccoli cheddar soup, and a half of the Smokehouse turkey sandwich, which had bacon, and 3 cheeses.
I ordered a diet coke for Len, and was asked what I wanted to drink. As I had just had a Starbucks coffee, I went with water.
The price was $18.59, which I paid. I was given my receipt, and a buzzer, which would go off when my food was up. He pointed to the other end of the counter, where the food would arrive. He gave me a plastic glass for Len, and a tiny one for me.
I got our drinks, and 5 minutes later the buzzer went off. I went and picked up our meals. There were 2 heavy, white, oval plates with food on them. The counter top was high so when I went to lift one down with my right wrist, I couldn’t do it. Since having the titanium plate in it, it is still weak. I took one down with my left hand, put it into my right hand, and then picked up the other one. I had to walk through a busy dining room, and weave between tables, to get to the farthest end with them. I was so relieved when I had made it.
The presentation of the food was good. The half a Panini that Len had was on a piece of cardboard, that had ridges to secure it. The soup looked really thick and good. Someone hadn’t wiped the rim of the soup bowl, as it had run down the side. The piece of bread that comes with the soup, was crusty on the outside and soft in the middle. It laid on 2 napkins, with the soup. My sandwich looked as if it was on white bread.
The soup was outstanding. There were lots of chunks of broccoli in it, and it was rich and creamy. I dipped my bread into it, but found the outside to be a little to hard/crispy for this old bird. We enjoyed the half sandwiches, and were asked how our food was, by employees walking around.
When we were ready to leave Len said that he would take the plates back. Yes, it was all self service, you had to return your plates to a certain place, and get rid of your garbage.
I have very mixed feeling about Panera Bread. I spoke to my girlfriend when I got home, and she said that it was good food, overpriced, as you had to order it, pick it up, and clean up after yourself. I couldn’t have put it better myself. Many chain restaurants have lunch for $6 to $8, and you get waited on. I think I will give Panera Bread a miss, and enjoy a relaxed meal instead.
Panera Bread must have got it right, because all of them in the area are busy, but I want more from my dining.
We went to the Panera Bread Cafe 1448,
located in the outparcel at the main entrance to Gulf Square Mall, New Port Richey, Fl 34668.