Sunday, July 17, 2011

Would You Pay $17 to Eat a Sandwich From Panera?

A week ago my family and I wandered into the Panera Bread in Chester, VA at the corner of Jeff Davis and Route 10.  Upon entering the store, an enormous sign advertising a brand new lobster sandwich jumped out at me. I am a life long lover of anything lobster, but my wife was picking up the tab and I didn't want her to pay the $16.99 asking price to feed my inner lobster demons. 

All week I thought about that lobster sandwich.  I didn't matter if I was at home watching TV or answering emails at work.  It takes a lot of balls to list a $17 sandwich on your menu.  I had to try it.

A few months back the local Quiznos started selling an $8 lobster sub at select locations.  This also interested me, and after driving to three different locations I finally found a Quiznos that was not sold out of the lobster sandwich (VCU bookstore on Broad st).  I learned a very important lesson that day at VCU, you get what you pay for.  The lobster sub was horrible.  It was a massive glob of mayonaise with tiny particles of lobster meat mixed in.

So today I went back to the very same Panera I visited last week and placed my order.  What I was served was pleasantly surprising.  The sandwich consisted of 16 ounces of large chunk lobster meat served on a bed of lettuce, a light mayonaise sauce on a 'freshly baked' ciabatta bread roll.  When you look at the sandwich the very first thing you notice is the sheer size of the lobster chunks, they were massive.  In addition to the large chunks of lobster, what sets this sandwich apart from the Quiznos failed sandwich attempt was the mayo.  The Quiznos sandwich used mayo as its base, while Panera used lobster as its base.  Panera used a watery mayo, but it was applied very sparingly. In fact, the mayo seemed to be more of a sauce than a binder.  This made the lobster the main attraction instead of the cheap mayo.  As I picked at the sandwich I noticed an entire piece of lobster claw on my bread.  If I could have changed anything it would have been the bread.  I am not a big ciabatta fan but went with it since it was standard on the sandwich.  French or regular Italian would have tasted better in my opinion.  Also there wasn't much seasoning on the meat, so I sprinkled on some salt.

After I finished the sandwich I approached the manager and inquired about how the lobster sandwich is cooked and assembled.  The manager was a friendly guy and was completely honest about the meal.  He stated the meat is comprised completely of lobsters caught off the coast of Nova Scotia, and in fact the lobster was not cooked at the individual Panera location.  The meat is delivered to the store precooked and chopped in giant bags, then once an order is placed an employee assembles the sandwich.

So, would you pay $17 for a sandwich from Panera? I did and it was pretty good. 

The new Panera lobster sandwich gets a 4 out of 5.


  1. You bet I would...if only my local Panera offered this sandwich...:(!!!!

  2. I saw the same sign, and it bugged me for a long time. I could never risk that much money at Panera. They should have a tasting or something.

  3. This was definitely a one time purchase for me. $17 is just way too much, but I had to try it.