The Boston Phoenix
December 10 - 17, 1998

[Food Reviews]

| by restaurant | by cuisine | by location | hot links | food home |
| dining out archive | on the cheap archive | noshing & sipping archive | uncorked archive |


Arlington bakery sings an un-chained melody

On the Cheap by Ian Menchini

Panera's corporate brass calls this St. Louis-based bakery-café an "unchained chain," which -- at least at the Arlington Heights franchise -- means yuppie décor of curvy wood, a menu ideal for light-lunch lovers, and a staff that doesn't seem to mind if you drink coffee and loll about on the sofa for hours. Through it all drifts the aroma of cheesy asiago bagels ($6.59 per baker's dozen).

Soup is made fresh daily; the day I visited, Panera was brewing its chicken-rice soup ($2.55), a creamy blend of veggies and white-meat chicken. My roommate got the soup in a bread bowl ($3.95), a savory concoction so fresh it melted in his mouth. You could also order the Tuscan chicken sandwich ($5.25): the chicken, juicy and sautéed to a golden brown, is topped with romaine lettuce, red onions, and lush tomatoes, all laid on spice-loaded focaccia.

To finish, do what I did: sit back and dig into Panera's apple-cinnamon danish, a blend of freshly cut apples and cinnamon surrounded by gooey, sticky dough. It's the most bodacious thing to happen to pastry since vanilla frosting.

Panera, located at 1398 Mass Ave, in Arlington Heights, is open Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call (781) 643-9090.

The On the Cheap archive