On days like today, you need a little extra warmth. I don’t know about where you are, but here in Philly it’s cold and wet, as it is along most of the east coast.
Rather than stay under the covers all day and snuggle my puppy like I wanted to, I decided to get up and seize the soggy day. I went to my usual Friday morning yoga class in the adorable, historic town of Bristol, Pa., which sits along the Delaware River across from New Jersey.
If you’re ever in the area, you should definitely stop by Bristol. There’s an Amish Market that I have yet to visit, but everyone raves about it. And there’s a newer spot called Calm Waters Coffee Roasters, which offers amazing beverages made by the sweet family who owns it. They even had their baby girl behind the counter the first time I was there, and it warmed my heart. A loving family working together in a trendy coffee shop along the water? It’s the stuff of dreams! Not to mention the atmosphere, which is a fresh take on colonial charm. We’re talking all kinds of comfort here. (Spoiler alert—I’m planning to feature their shop in a future post if they’ll have me. Stay tuned!)
My original plan was to hang out there after yoga, grab a drink and maybe do some work, but the rain got the best of me. It was POURING after class, so I took shelter in my car instead. Once I was safe and dry, I was a little sad that I had missed out on their mocha. With sneakers full of water and a rain jacket dripping off my seat, I need something warm. Fast. So, I decided to stop by Panera.
We went to Panera a lot growing up since we had one right by the house, but I hadn’t been there much over the last five or six years of living in the city. I definitely became an urban snob while I was surrounded by so many cool, local spots, and I dreaded the restaurant chains of the suburbs when I moved a little further out this July. Seriously, you could go a mile in any direction of my current place and encounter at least 10 or 15 franchises. It sounds convenient, (because it is) but it made me sad when I first moved here. I felt like I was a boring, old suburban dweller who was going to spend my Friday nights at Chili’s, and that was depressing. In reality, I now spend my Friday nights at the dog park surrounded by a dozen or so >25 lb. dogs, so that probably doesn’t help my cool image either. But I digress.
Panera Bread is not the first place that comes to my mind when I think coffee, but after today it won’t be the last. I actually filled out a survey for Starbucks a couple months ago, and they asked me to check all the places I’d ordered coffee throughout the past month. The choices included Dunkin Donuts, Tim Hortons and a few others including Panera. For some reason, the inclusion of Panera really shocked me. Maybe because it’s called Panera Bread, but I never really thought of it as a go-to coffee spot.
Today, I decided to order a Caffe Mocha and a cup of turkey chili. If you’re thinking that sounds like an odd combo of flavors, you’d be right. They both turned out to be pretty tasty on their own, but if you’re going to try them, you’ll probably want to have the mocha while your soup is cooling down or after you eat as a liquid dessert. Chocolate and kidney beans don’t really mix.
That chili though…it was really pretty tasty! I was pleasantly surprised to notice chickpeas and edamame as soon as I removed the lid, which is kind of unusual for a chili. There were also big pieces of turkey, carrots and corn. Unfortunately, I detected cilantro as well, which for me, is a real turn off. I want to love it, but my taste buds cry whenever they encounter the stuff. (I heard there’s actually a specific gene in people who hate cilantro with a passion, so now I’m convinced I have that gene.) Luckily, there were enough other flavors in the mix that it didn’t ruin the chili for me. It was hearty and filling and just what I needed.
And then to top it off with a rich, chocolatey mocha…that’s rainy day heaven right there.
I realize these items probably don’t contain the healthiest, freshest ingredients for optimum nutrition, but if you need a little comfort food (or beverage) I would definitely give it a try. Just take a look at their drink menu online, and you’ll be running to go grab one. Food styling is quite the art, my friends.
All in all, I definitely suggest giving Panera another try sometime soon. (I’m assuming you’ve had it many times before in the past…it’s not like I’m reviewing a secret, secluded spot with this one.) They’ve definitely got a market on bread products and soup, and they just might be a contender in the coffee arena, too.
Is Panera your go-to corner coffee shop? Do you love their lattes, or do you tend to forget about their beverage offerings like I did? Give them another try, and report back in the comments section. I want to hear your thoughts on that Signature Hot Chocolate with chocolate chip marshmallows. Hot damn!
(Just for the record this is not a sponsored post, although I would be happy to partner with Panera anytime 😉 )