Panera’s does a lot of things right … cinnamon crunch bagels come immediately to mind. But there is one thing that I wait all fall, winter and spring for and that is their Strawberry, Poppyseed and Chicken Salad. This salad has everything going for it: loaded with fruit, some chicken and only 350 calories (that’s not counting the baguette). During the summer, I try to have this once a week, it’s that good and it’s only available in the summer.
Panera’s is one of those restaurants where you walk in and place your order at the counter. If you come at a busy time, you can find yourself in a fairly long line. After you place your order, your get a vibrating pager and your drink cup. Drinks are self-serve (which I love). I always get a blend of the sweet tea and acai berry tea, though lately I’ve been having their iced coffee. You choose a seat, sit down and start sipping your drinks, while you wait for your pager to go off.
The Strawberry, Poppyseed and Chicken Salad comes with a side choice and I always choose a baguette, hubs always chooses a whole wheat baguette. This salad is a bowl of romaine lettuce topped with a very generous amount of fruit. There are strawberries, blueberries, pineapple and mandarin oranges. There are also pecans, and it is all topped with the poppyseed dressing. As I said, the toppings are extremely generous, there is plenty of fruit and nuts to last you to the bottom of the bowl.
One thing I have noticed is that I think you get much more if you eat in. We occasionally get this salad to go, and I don’t think the to-go salads are as large as when you get them in the restaurant. Since we enjoy their tea and iced coffee anyway, it makes much more sense to eat in.