In an unexpected turn of events, the chicken sandwich wars have a new, unexpected contestant: Panera. Now, we are all probably thinking the same thing: why? Though for once, we do not have a good answer for you.
Panera came out with two chicken sandwiches: “The Signature Take Chicken Sandwich” and “The Spicy Take Chicken Sandwich.” The Signature Take is described as a “seasoned and seared chicken breast, parmesan crisps, emerald greens and garlic aioli on a brioche roll,” on the Panera website. Meanwhile, the Spicy is a “seasoned and seared chicken breast, spicy Buffalo sauce, crispy pickle chips and garlic aioli on a brioche roll,” according to the website. The sandwiches each cost $11.99 plus tax and come with a choice of side (a baguette, chips or an apple).
I was scared going into this; this is definitely the most expensive chicken sandwich in the industry (though we can get back to the debate on whether Panera is fast food or not), which means that expectations were already high for it. The first disappointment was the way the sandwich looked. I know better than to trust the picture, but this was like night and day. On the website you get a nice, big sandwich; we actually got a pathetically small excuse of a sandwich.
This was an okay chicken sandwich; there was nothing too special about it. The sandwich was small, especially the piece of chicken on it. Like pathetically small. I am not someone who eats a lot, but this sandwich left me hungry (I was hungrily attacking my baguette after this). The sandwich was quite dry––it definitely needed more sauce––but I did enjoy the greens on it. I appreciate a sandwich with lots of greens on it. The taste was alright; nothing too notable. The crisps really can go though.
Generally, my comments about this sandwich are the same as those for the regular: too small, still hungry. It was definitely less dry than the regular version, and the Buffalo sauce was good. However, it was not spicy at all. Repeat after me: 19 times out of 20, Buffalo sauce is not actually spicy. Stop putting Buffalo sauce on things and calling them spicy.
The spicy variation does not come with greens on it: WHY? I like my spice and my vegetables. The lack of greens on it definitely harmed the overall flavor. But it was still an okay-tasting sandwich. If you customize it and add greens, it would definitely be the better one of the two.
Overall, in terms of value for money, this sandwich gets a four out of 10, while in terms of taste I would give it a 7.5.
When I first heard that Panera was releasing a chicken sandwich, I was ecstatic. For those who don’t know, I love chicken sandwiches, and a healthier alternative to feed my cravings for the smallest amount of calories possible sounds amazing compared to the deep-fried oily alternatives you can get from most fast food joints. With that being said, the price is nothing to sneeze at: $11.99 for a sandwich and side is not too absurd in itself, but the sandwich has to be appropriately sized and also have an unforgettable taste that matches its unforgettable price.
For background, I am not usually a big fan of Panera Bread’s food: I often find it overpriced and leaving me hungry, so I desperately hoped that this was an exception. When I got the sandwich from the counter, I was shocked at how freaking small it was. For comparison, it was around the size of my closed fist. While I do have large hands, that is still a really small sandwich. For this sandwich to be worth its price, it would have to taste like no other chicken sandwich I’ve had in the past and would have to knock my socks off.
With that being said, the sandwich was quite tasty! I appreciated that it was not deep-fried and coated in a layer of oil but instead had vegetables and a sauce that complemented the chicken as the majority of the flavor in the sandwich, definitely a refreshing take on a chicken sandwich. Even though the sandwich was small, what was there was a great chicken sandwich. Overall, I would give the Panera Bread regular chicken sandwich an eight out of 10 for flavor, a five out of 10 for size, and a five out of 10 for price. Unfortunately, we were actually still hungry after finishing the chicken sandwich, so we ended up ordering one of their other sandwiches.
While I love a good old spicy chicken sandwich and usually prefer them to regular chicken sandwiches, I feel mostly the same about this sandwich as the other one. The price is way too high, the sandwich is much too small, but what’s there is still a tasty sandwich nonetheless. I like the spicy sauce that they put on it, and I think it’s a great addition to the sandwich, I just wish that there were more of it (and more of everything for that matter). The sauce was not too spicy and did not have me running for water, though I am pretty spice tolerant. Overall, I’ll give the spicy chicken sandwich the same rating: an eight out of 10 for flavor, a five out of 10 for size, and a five out of 10 for price. Nothing really changed except for the spicy sauce, but other than that was basically identical.
The story for all of Panera’s food items seems to be the exact same: overpriced, small portions and you leave feeling hungry and ultimately unsatisfied. While we have noticed this as a common pattern among Panera’s food items, we hope that this is a trend that will be broken and that Panera increases their food portions, along with decreasing the price. We both currently feel that there is no reason to order food from Panera Bread when we can just get more food for a smaller price (that tastes equally as good) from other restaurants.