Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Restaurant Review - Panera Bread, 2260 East Highway 50, Clermont, FL

There's a new Panera Bread location that opened up in Clermont, right near the intersection of Hancock Rd and S.R. 50., next door (literally) to the Carrabba's. I've been to Panera before, mostly the Sand Lake Rd location, sometimes the one at Millenia Mall, and while it is fine if I'm in the area, I usually don't "crave" the food there. I'm just not one of those organic sandwich/salad eaters. But, Grandma and Grandpa called and said Panera has a new product called the Crispani and it was really good, so I gathered up the boys and we headed to Clermont to meet Grandma and Grandpa for dinner.

The Crispani is basically Panera's version of a flatbread pizza (with organic ingredients of course). This Panera offered three different versions - three cheese, tomato and basil, and sweet sausage with roasted peppers. The Tomato and Fresh Basil Crispani looked really good in the photo - slices of tomatoes, leaves of basil, and chunks of mozzarella cheese baked onto a flatbread crust. I then checked the kid's menu on the menu board - there are three offerings: Grilled Cheese on whole grain bread with organic American cheese, Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich on whole grain bread made with all-natural peanut butter, and the Kid's Deli Sandwich on, you guessed it, whole grain bread with a choice of deli meat and, yes - you guessed again, organic American cheese. For $3 - $4, each Kid's Meal comes with a squeezable organic yogurt tube and a choice of organic milk, organic chocolate milk, or apple juice (I'm guessing it is organic as well). I asked the boys what they wanted and LB said he wanted the Grilled Cheese. BB wasn't happy with any of the choices (he's like me, not big into organic stuff) so we decided to share the Crispani (it looked big). When I went up to order, the server told me that the Crispani takes a little longer than the other items at Panera so they would give me a number to put on my table and deliver it when it is ready. She suggested getting a soup or half salad to start and that by the time we are done, the Crispani should be ready. That sounded good to me so I ordered a cup of the Wild Rice and Creamy Chicken Soup for $3.29 to start and then the Tomato & Basil Crispani for $6.99, and then LB's Grilled Cheese. Grandma and Grandpa decided to share the Sausage & Pepper Crispani.

We sat down in the "living room" section of the restaurant - that's usually the section in the front of Panera that has smaller round tables and sometimes couches. There were other kids there running around so I figured my kids wouldn't disturb anyone in that section. A few minutes later my name was called - our soup and LB's Grilled Cheese was ready. The soup was really good, very creamy and flavorful - BB liked it too. LB wasn't too keen on the Grilled Cheese. He took one bite and then just drank his chocolate milk. I tried it and I could see why he didn't like it... it tasted too... organic and wheaty. Not like the greasy grilled cheese sandwiches I'm used to! LB didn't want his strawberry yogurt either so BB actually asked for it and ate the whole thing.

About ten minutes later, our Crispani(s) were delivered to the table. LB perked up at that point and declared that he wanted some pizza, too. The flatbread pizza was good - not too crunchy, not too chewy, with nice big chunky toppings -- and, it didn't taste organic, even if it was. Also, because of the flatbread crust, it made it really easy for the kids to pick up and eat. Grandma and Grandpa liked their Sausage & Pepper Crispani as well. They both said they didn't like it at first because the sausage and caramelized onions really did make for a sweet taste at the beginning. But they said the taste really grows on you and they ended up liking it. There ended up being enough pizza for all of us, I realized, so next time, I will skip the kid's meal and just get the Crispani for all of us.


Mickey S said...

Any other Clermont recomendations??..I live in Clermont at Summit Greens...anything else close by???

Restaurant Mom said...

Mickey, you can check out my other Clermont reviews (click the label "Clermont" on the left). Other places I like in Clermont are The Rusty Fox (on 12th Ave off of 50 - west of 27), and the plethora of chain restaurant popping up in Clermont: Crispers, Bob Evans (good biscuits and sausage gravy), Cracker Barrel, American Pie Pizza Company, etc. Whenever they finally put in the Plaza Collina retail area, there should be a lot more upscale places as well. HTH!

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