Panera Bread Bakery-Cafe
Today, new menu items debut at Panera Bread Bakery-Café, along with some returning holiday favorites. On Monday, the SacFoodies had an opportunity to feast on these new menu items, which included the Natural Steak Chili with Sweet Cornbread Crumble, Cornbread Muffins, Mint Crinkle Cookies, Peppermint Mocha, Peppermint Hot Chocolate, Frozen Peppermint drink, Holiday Bread and Cranberry Walnut Panettone. (Um, yes, we do love our jobs!)
Here’s what we thought:
The Panera Bread delivery to the office was a perfect way to kick off the week. We all sampled a bit of everything including Steak Chili with Cornbread, Macaroni and Cheese (can you say heaven??), and an assortment of cookies, sandwiches, baked goods and even hot and cold seasonal beverages. But what really kept me sneaking back to the kitchen for more was the Holiday Bread, a sweet egg dough mixed with honey, golden raisins, cranberries and chocolate chips and then filled with chopped apples and cinnamon sugar and drizzled with icing on top. It’s a well-known fact that food usually doesn’t last long around this office, so it’s no wonder the whole loaf was gone in a matter of hours!
I’ve always been a fan of Panera Bread since my days of living in Atlanta, so I was thrilled when they started popping up in Sacramento about six years ago. Over the years, I’ve tried many different things on Panera’s menu and of course found a few go-to favorites, but I had yet to feast on their Macaroni and Cheese until the other day and, boy, was I bummed when I realized I was missing out on that ooey-gooey shell pasta goodness all this time! It easily makes its way to the top of my mac ‘n cheese list (which is really saying something since I consider myself a true connoisseur)!
I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but at some point over the last few years Panera became my go-to source for chicken noodle soup during the winter. It never fails to warm me up on those all-too-common rainy Sacramento winter days, and I love the fact that I can trust the ingredients to be fresh and all-natural. So, my ears (and appetite) definitely perked up when I heard mention of another promisingly tasty and comforting winter menu option from Panera: All-Natural Steak Chili with Cornbread. The combo of slow-cooked brisket slices, ground beef and veggies topped with cornbread crumbles is the epitome of comfort food for me and will undoubtedly make its way into my winter soup rotation this year!
One of my favorite things about November is when all the seasonal holiday drinks become available. I just can’t seem to get enough of that warm peppermint flavor. When Panera Bread invited us to taste some of their holiday specialties, I jumped at the chance to taste their peppermint mocha and I was not disappointed! Not only did it wake me up with its caffeine kick, but it also tasted exactly like a chocolate peppermint candy bar. It is safe to say I have discovered my morning mocha of choice :).
The Mint Crinkle Cookie is a cookie that takes me back to my childhood. Not delicate and nuanced. Not subtle and sophisticated. Not refined or reserved. Just big bites of mouth-filling chocolate mushy goodness. When you’re a kid, cookies should be soft. They should be rich. They should make a mess of your mouth and leave a trail on your fingers. They should be big and fun and make you grin. That’s what this cookie is and does. It isn’t so much a cookie as it is the very definition of “cookie.”
To say we enjoyed Panera’s new menu and holiday foods would be a vast understatement. We loved them! In fact, I’m having trouble deciding which item was my favorite, since I couldn’t get enough of the chili, the cornbread muffins, the holiday bread or the chocolaty mint crinkle cookies.
If you’re now wishing you could have Panera delivered to your office for a meeting or special occasion, wait no longer. Simply call Shauna in Catering (916.770.9333), and she’ll have everything delivered to your door. They’ve catered everything from a 5 person to a 1,500 person event – now that’s a lot of crinkle cookies!
We love Panera’s food, and we also love their commitment to providing food to the needy in our community. They are an important partner to Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, raising $20,000 each year, as well as donating both their time and bakery items.
If you’d like to try this new yummy Panera goodness, you’re in luck as there are now 7 locations in the Sacramento area. An 8th location will open on Thursday, December 2 in Citrus Heights at the corner of Sunrise Blvd. and Greenback Lane, which will be their first drive-thru location on the west coast. Let’s just say I know where I’ll be on December 2nd – I hear some mint crinkle cookies calling my name.
3571 North Freeway Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95834
2731 Del Paso Road
Sacramento, CA 95835
3328 El Camino Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95821
901 Howe Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95825
8519 Bond Road
Elk Grove, CA 95624
1850 Douglas Boulevard
Roseville, CA 95661
916 Pleasant Grove Boulevard
Roseville, CA 95678
Citrus Heights: (opening Dec. 2)
7901 Greenback Lane
Citrus Heights, CA 95610