Friday, November 22, 2013

Panera's Secret Menu has Gluten free options

For years of going to Starbucks I knew there was a "Secret menu" that you could basically ask the barista to make anything, and they would. It really comes down to letting the customer order anything, anyway they want and then having the person making the order prepare it as such. Great idea! More and more places have "secret menus" that really aren't that secret, but they aren't posted on the wall when you get there. This is great, if you know what you want, and the person taking your order knows what you are talking about.

I was traveling in Iowa a couple weeks back and we were trying to find a place for breakfast. Breakfast always makes me cringe, since most of our society loves bagels and cream cheese for breakfast... and most bagel places are taboo to celiacs! So we went to Panera. I quickly looked on my phone, Thank goodness I was getting service at this point. I found the Secret Menu, which included the Power Egg Bowl with either steak or turkey. I decided I like steak and eggs, we'll give it a try. 

I got to the register, and didn't see this power egg bowl on the menu, so either they don't do it, or it's on the 'secret menu'. So the cashier asked the gal making pumpkin spice latte's about the power egg bowl. She stared blankly at her, they both went and asked a guy standing by the meat slicer, he looked less perplexed and went over and helped her look thru the menu options on the register, finally they found it. I emphasized to her that I have Celiac disease, and Do NOT want bread with it in any shape or form (I regularly have an issue with them getting that concept).

Well apparently they don't make these often because everyone who was behind me in line got their food first, as a very lost girl stared at a book on how to make the egg bowl. Finally someone helped her and apologized that my meal was so delayed. To my dismay the steak used is exactly as it's used in their steak salad, red and COLD. When I asked if there was any way the steak could be warm I was told they'd have to remake the whole dish. I told them Fine, cause I'm not going to eat it. Really steak that's cold when served with eggs???? So he compromised and got a new packet of meat and heated it up, took the meat off the one I got, and replaced it. Now if it was on the menu, and not a secret, maybe it would state the steak is served COLD

Now look at the secret menu, and the photo of their steak bowl.. It looks appetizing.

Panera for me is a meal in a pinch, they have this 1 option, with 2 different protein options as a breakfast choice. In a pinch I'll stop here with friends, but otherwise I'll avoid them. Normally the service for GF I've found lacking. I do have their rewards card, which they ask for dietary restrictions on it. I have Gluten Intolerant listed, I still get asked if I want pastries...  They want to seem like they care, but they don't. I don't know how many times after No bread, no croutons, I still end up frustrated with a plate that has bread or croutons on it.
They get 2 dragonflies in my book. I end up more annoyed when I eat there, then not, they have the option to do GF, but it always seems like they'd prefer not to.

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