Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Battle of the Breakfast Sandwiches: Day 2 (Panera Bread Power Breakfast Sandwich)

The second day of my quest to find the perfect breakfast sandwich took me to the Panera Bread near Northlake Mall. While waiting in line, I waffled between my breakfast options and after narrowing the playing field to either the Mediterranean Egg White on Ciabatta or the Breakfast Power Sandwich, I settled on the latter. 

First Impressions: It only took about four minutes for the Panera employees to assemble my sandwich and bag it up for me. I unwrapped it in the car and was... unimpressed. The entire sandwich was thin, floppy, and only a little bit bigger than my palm. The menu described the ingredients as "All-natural egg — freshly cracked every morning — a thick slice of Vermont white cheddar and smoked, lean ham all grilled on freshly baked Whole Grain bread." While the ham appeared to be cut generously and the egg looked very appetizing, I could barely spot the "thick slice" of cheese. Upon closer examination, I realized that it had melted and been almost entirely soaked up the bread.

Category #1: Taste
I'm going to need a 20 on that cheese, Panera....
I love Panera (I'm drooling just thinking about their sun-dried tomato pesto-loaded Tomato & Mozzarella panini...), so I took my first bite hoping that this was a case where my sandwich tasted a lot better than it looked. Unfortunately, I was let down. The bread tasted just how it looked -like a wet kitchen sponge (but probably not as much as the bread sold by Julian Bakery). The grill marks were completely deceiving because the texture was nothing near toast-like and the whole thing flopped around in my hand like a wet noodle. However, for being close to invisible, the cheese tasted pretty good, as did the thick slice of ham. The real star here, however, was the egg. It tasted delicious, was expertly seasoned with flecks of black pepper, and I completely believe Panera's claim that it was "freshly cracked." Regardless, I couldn't help but feel disappointed. Maybe Panera had a bad bread day, but for a bakery, I really expected a lot more in the carbohydrate department. While the fillings were very tasty, the gross bread completely destroyed the sandwich's potential and it was no better than yesterday's McMuffin. Score: 5

Category #2: Fullness
On the plus side, the Breakfast Power Sandwich kept me full for a solid 4.5 hours -definitely long enough to tide me over through a morning of work (but not a particularly long morning). Score: 8.5

Category #3: Nutrition
The Breakfast Power sandwich contained 340 calories, 15 grams of fat, 31 grams of carbs, 4 grams of fiber, and 22 grams of protein. Just like the Egg White Delight McMuffin, the sandwich counts for 9 Weight Watchers+ Points. 

Category #4: Price
At $3.99, I feel like the sandwich is a little pricey for what you're getting. It was small and didn't "wow" me at all.

Overall Value
Applying my formula, the overall value of the Panera Bread Power Breakfast Sandwich came out to a 2.26. It beat out Mickey D's due to its score in the fullness category, but I am still disappointed as a whole. Step it up, breakfast world! I'm ready to be impressed on day three!

Panera Bread on Urbanspoon

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