It appears as though Panera’s top chefs have been smoking a lot of pot recently and from that came their newest sandwich: the Grilled Mac & Cheese. Now, we review fast food so we cannot claim to be super health conscious, but even for us it seems like a lot of carbs. On the website it is simply described as “Creamy Mac & Cheese with our fontina and mozzarella cheese blend and parmesan crisps on toasted thick-sliced Classic White Miche.” Vegetables who? Let’s just say we are all in for an interesting ride. In the Panera closest to Brandeis the sandwich costs $10.59 plus tax, and is 1010 calories. Oh and they give you a side of bread with it, in case this was not enough carbs as is (though you can substitute the bread for an apple or chips).
To be completely honest, when I first saw this idea of a sandwich I was a little skeptical at first. I have never heard of macaroni and cheese in a grilled-cheese style sandwich before, though I will admit I was excited to try it.
I want to start off by saying that this sandwich was 10 DOLLARS. Now, this price in itself is definitely not bad at all, but if I go to a restaurant and pay $10 for food, I fully expect to at least be a little less hungry when I’m done eating it. Now take a look at the picture, and compare the sandwich with the size of the fork. This sandwich is literally tinier than my fork!
Okay, so now that we all understand that I got a total of one bite out of this sandwich, let’s talk about how that bite tasted. Personally, I think the bread could have been toasted for twice as long as it was. It felt like the bread was more butter-bread than it was trying to mimic a grilled cheese. However, putting all of these criticisms to the side, let’s talk about my personal star of the show: the macaroni and cheese filling. The macaroni and cheese was so creamy, it absolutely melted in my mouth beyond comparison. I feel like I could eat the macaroni and cheese portion forever. Now, did the macaroni and cheese belong in a sandwich? Definitely not. Would it have been much better if I just ordered the macaroni and cheese alone? Absolutely. While I think the idea was okay in theory, I really do not think it was executed well. It’s very possible that I would be more apt to say that this belonged in a sandwich if it was maybe a little bit bigger, and the bread was a little bit more toasted.
Unfortunately, it feels like I’m doing yet another Panera review where I feel that the portion size does not justify the price at all. Honestly, I would rather stay at home and try to make myself a better homemade mac-and-cheese sandwich for a tenth of the price. I would probably give this sandwich a five out of 10, which is very low for the Panera brand for me.
First of all, I would like to say what the f*ck is this. Panera brands itself as a “healthy” restaurant with fresh ingredients and stuff, so what is this sandwich? It is pasta, cheese and bread. Not a single vegetable or anything on it (like really would it kill them to add a tomato?). I can’t even add a vegetable to it if I want to, all I can customize is whether I want the parm crisps or not. This seems like a ploy to get people to try this weird sandwich because there is no way someone actually thought this was a good idea and not just a joke. Maybe it’s a late April fools joke?
Anyway on to the sandwich: it was as weird as I thought it would be. Who in their right mind decided to put macaroni on bread? Like don’t get me wrong, bread is amazing and I would eat it with almost anything, though definitely not macaroni. The sandwich was just weird, I have no other way to describe it. It was two pieces of bread with loads of macaroni inside it. There was a lot of macaroni in it, and WAY too much cheese. I only managed a few bites of my half of the sandwich—it was way too cheesy (and the cheese was very salty which made it even worse). Unlike John, I did not like how creamy the mac & cheese was, it was way too much to handle, and without the bread to soften the salty taste, I could not stomach it. The macaroni wasn’t great either; it seemed soggy and overcooked. The only good thing about this sandwich was the bread: Panera knows how to make very good bread (they are called Panera Bread after all). It was also toasted the perfect amount, oftentimes I find grilled cheeses to be too burnt for my taste.
Panera really surprised me with this sandwich, and not in a good way. Usually Panera food is very good, even though it is usually not worth its price, but this was straight up bad. It was most definitely not worth the price we paid for it; I would never have it again even if it was served for free. Do yourself a favor and avoid this item at Panera, no matter how intriguing it may look. I would rate this a two out of 10, which I believe is the lowest rating I have ever given in a food review. To whoever came up with this sandwich: go see a doctor.
Overall, this is the first time where we can say that Panera disappointed us. Our usual complaint about Panera is that the food is not worth the money, but this sandwich is so bad we probably wouldn’t eat it for free.