Panera brings home the bread

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By Nicole Souza and Alex Gounaris
Staff Writers

There are a variety of options at the newly opened Panera Bread – meals ranging from paninis and soup to muffins and bagels. Luckily, the residents of Westford no longer have to drive all the way to Drum Hill to get their delicious baguettes or organic apples.

The Fuji Apple Chicken salad and the Sierra Turkey was an excellent combination for a lunch. The salad consisted of delicious almonds and walnuts, goat cheese, onions, tomatoes and bits of fuji apples with a sweet dressing drizzled on top. Although it was part of the “you pick two” option, where one can choose two entreés getting half of each, the portion sizes were decently sized. One could easily fit in a cookie for dessert afterwards.

Alongside the salad, the Sierra Turkey was made on asiago bread with a mildly spicy sauce. The sandwich included turkey slices, lettuce, and onions inside. The bread was a nice consistency; not too chewy or too hard. It was definitely worth ordering again.

Next on the menu was the Frontega chicken panini with the French onion soup. The panini was stuffed with generous amounts of mozzarella cheese, and sprinkled with light amounts of basil. The veggies included just the right quantity of red onion and tomato, both cooked perfectly and giving the buttery sandwich a somewhat healthy twist. The chicken was a disappointment, because there was hardly any of it in the sandwich, begging the question of most restaurant chains, “Where’s the beef?” All this was packed between two chewy, buttery pieces of panini-grilled foccacia bread, which was spread with a small amount of chipotlé mayonnaise.

The french onion soup was a lackluster version of french onion soup. While the broth was seasoned perfectly and the onion was ideally cooked, the underachieving dish lacked the traditional circle of pumpernickel bread, and was replaced by croutons. To add insult to injury, there was hardly any cheese. In fact, the cheese was so sparse it was hard to decipher what type of cheese it was. Overall the Frontega chicken panini alongside the french onion, though could satisfy hunger, was a disappointment on the palate.

Despite the minor setbacks of the meal, overall the restaurant provided a cozy feel and environment. Everything was clean and new, and there seemed to be positive energy that filled the work environment. Customers were smiling and cheerful all around us, and people will most definitely be yearning to come back again.