Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review: Panera Bread "Hidden Menu"

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Panera Bread.  I don't eat out very often, but when I do, I almost always choose Panera.  One of my good friends and I have a standing date to eat there every other Wednesday.  

I recently learned that Panera Bread has what they call a "hidden menu".  There are 6 dishes - 2 breakfast bowls and 4 lunch/dinner salads to choose from.  You won't find them on the menu board - hence the term "hidden menu" - but you tell the cashier that you want to order from that menu and they know (or are supposed to know) what you are talking about.

The items on the hidden menu are high protein, low carb choices - perfect for someone who is trying to lose weight and/or wants a gluten-free meal.  Or, like me, just wants a high protein, filling salad.  

So today I decided to give it a shot and ordered the Power Mediterranean Chicken Salad.  It contains chicken, spinach, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, applewood smoked bacon, diced eggs and, for a dressing, there is a light coating of olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon.

Here is what mine looked like:

The serving size is generous.  The chicken was plentiful and delicious and there were a lot of tomatoes, egg and bacon.  Everything tasted fresh.  I have been weaning myself off of salad dressing for a while, so the lemon/olive oil combo was fine for me, but might be a little plain for someone who is used to eating dressing.  Panera is extremely flexible, though, so if you wanted dressing, I'm sure they would give you some.

All in all, I really liked this salad - all for 360 calories.  It cost $7.99 at my local Panera.  

They do not offer you their typical sides with these salads, but you can get one if you want one - of course, it will no longer be a low carb no gluten choice!  Me?  I got the baugette!!

As a side note, the cashier at my Panera had no issue with the hidden menu and knew exactly what I was talking about - I guess other people have had issues, but I didn't!

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