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Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

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Panera perfection

Panera Bread has both the environment and food for a quiet afternoon of studying this winter.
Looking+for+the+perfect+blueberry+scone%3F+Paneras+literally+melt+in+ones+mouth.
Photo by Ava Koch
Looking for the perfect blueberry scone? Panera’s literally melt in one’s mouth.

 

 

Panera, 12632 Illinois Route 59, Plainfield 60585 (815.254.0022). Breakfast $4–$7; Soups $8–$11; Bakery $1–$5.

If you are looking for a calm, relaxing space to finish homework or to order your favorite warm, steamy bowl of soup, look no further. Panera provides you with both. 

I drove to Panera with my friend, Emma, around 12 p.m one crisp October day. Together, we walked in and immediately noticed music was playing at just the right volume: not too loud, not too quiet. The restaurant was very clean, and smelled like just-cooked soup and freshly baked bread. People were on their computers studying, sitting with friends, spending time with family. 

Panera began in 1987 as St. Louis Bread Company, a community bakery founded with a sourdough starter from San Francisco. That same sourdough starter is still being used at all Panera’s. The Panera that I drove to began in 1975 and now has 197 restaurants which include other fast food places. There are currently 39 Paneras in Illinois, this one was the 29th to open – about 20 years ago. Most average 32 associates and they are all considered the cooks/chefs.

The service at the restaurant was top quality. Right as I walked in, I was greeted. Walking up to the counter, which was situated in front of an expansive wall menu, I was very pleased the staff immediately took my order and my food was out within minutes.

Chocolate croissants on display to lure customers in. (Photo by Ava Koch)

I ordered their cream of chicken and wild rice soup in a bread bowl ($8.99), large sweet iced tea, and a chocolate chipper cookie ($2.99).

The staff were doing their jobs – not goofing off or anything. In fact, they all had smiles on their faces and were talking to each other while they made their food, which gave Panera almost like a family-like setting. Everyone knew everyone, and worked well together. 

 

The restaurant gives off a contemporary yet homey vibe, with cushioned seating, ambient lighting, and a fireplace. (Photo by Ava Koch)

I decided to dine in and hang out with my friend in the restaurant for a little bit. Although there were many options, including the “You Pick Two” choice Panera is known for, which includes a half soup/salad and sandwich, I settled on ordering a cream of chicken and wild rice soup in a bread bowl, chocolate chip cookie, and a sweet iced tea.

The staff provided me with my cup for the sweet tea, so I filled it up, put it on the table we were sitting at (customers choose their own seats at Panera), and when I came back to the counter for my food, it was already ready. 

Bread bowls are exactly what they sound like: a piece of bread that acts as a bowl for soup. (Photo by Ava Koch)

Taking the order back to my table, I could feel the warmth through the plate. The bread bowl was nice and crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. It looked very well cooked and fresh. The soup was perfect: just warm enough where it would not burn my mouth. The ratio of soup to bread was flawless, and there was just the right amount of soup for the whole bread bowl. Considering the soup was sitting in the bread you would think the bread would be soggy, but Panera’s bread was still perfect and not soggy at all.

Their cookies are always warm where you can feel it through the packaging. The chocolate chips were melting in my mouth and the cookie was at perfect temperature.

Panera’s iced tea always hits. As they do not have sweet iced tea, they do have a bottle-like container of sugar syrup that customers can pump into the unsweetened iced tea. It is better this way: customers can find the exact sweet taste they are looking for in their tea.

Varieties of tea are lined up for customers to choose from. (Photo by Ava Koch)

Overall, Panera was a very professional and clean restaurant. I would definitely recommend visiting for anyone looking for a quiet place to study or a tasty bowl of soup.

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About the Contributor
Ava Koch, Reporter
Ava Koch enjoys getting bit when Miloh, her blue crossover quaker (a bird), gets angry. When she is not being playfully attacked, she is fulfilling her last year in high school by going all-out for the football game themes. She wants to get into a college or university to become a registered nurse. In the meantime, Ava is working as an after-care assistant at the Carol Stream Park District.
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  • Mr. AielloDec 5, 2023 at 12:36 pm

    Agreed 100%. I would kill for a Panera green tea.