Consistent Mediocrity at Panera Bread

Panera Bread
Location: 197 North Queen Street, Etobicoke

I continue to be baffled by the success of Panera Bread.  It’s really expensive, consistently mediocre, and always busy.  I don’t get it.

The bread’s not bad, I’ll give it that.  I’ve had a few sandwiches here, and the bread is always the highlight.

Panera Bread

I got the “Pick 2,” which means you can pick two smaller things and pay a lot for it.  I got a small sandwich and a little bowl of chili, and it came up to a bit over 14 bucks, and just get the hell out of here with that.  This should cost about half of that for the quality of food they’re serving.

Specifically, I got the Fontiga  Chicken Panini, and the Turkey Chili.

Panera Bread

They were both fine.  The sandwich had a mild smoky flavour — I guess either the cheese or the chicken was smoked — but was otherwise the sandwich equivalent of white noise.  It’s neither good nor bad; it’s just kind of there.

The chili was fine, but it was about on the level as a can of soup from the supermarket.  A nicer can — maybe one that costs a buck fifty instead of a buck — but a can nonetheless.

And of course, as usual, the place was packed.  Why?  I guess it’s better than the literal garbage that they call sandwiches at Tim Hortons, but still: why is this place so popular?