It’s hard to pass up on free samples. And how can you have a bad experience somewhere when immediately upon entering the door, a nice woman is offering you free tastes of six homemade breads or pastries? For lunch today, I headed to the new-ish Great Harvest Bread Company. Centrally located in the current shopping hub of the NE side of town, this small bread shop occupies a corner of the parking lot that is both easy to get to and in the middle of the most annoying traffic of the holiday season. Regardless, we attempted it.
To mention again, the best part of the trip greeted us immediately, a nice woman tutoring us about the different types of bread they were featuring that day, and how they love to provide people with a sample of their choosing. I went with the cracked pepper parmesan, while my counterpart chose the “favorite”, the cinnamon bread. She also pointed us towards the warm butter, honey and selection of spreads to top our selection. As we moved down the line, edging towards the desserts, the next person was immediately available to take our lunch order while we were busy slathering vanilla almond butter and triple berry spun honey on our breads.
After sufficiently stuffing my sample in my face, I braced myself to order my sandwich. I had heard that the prices were a little steep for a “sandwich shop” but I think it was on par with most other places in town i.e. the Capriotti’s, Panera’s, Jimmy John’s. I landed on the California Cobb, with the Sonoma bread, and the total for my sandwich was $9.62.
I”ll admit, I’m a sucker for whole ingredients though. No HFCS, freshly milled whole grain wheat flour, and no preservatives or additives. So when my sandwich arrived and the bread was soft, bacon crispy, and vegetables fresh, I cleaned my plate without worry or hesitation that something hinky was in my food. Between the greeting, food, cloth napkin and mismatched silverware, the Bread Company feels very homey.
Before we left, we re-approached the counter to check out the pastry selections. Although they offer loaves of bread and packages of cookies to go, you can again, sample before making a purchase. We both tried the Savannah bar, topped with fresh fruit and berries, and a piece of sugar cookie.
While Great Harvest Bread Co. may have 200 locations nationwide, the Cedar Rapids site is locally owned and you can tell. Between the samples, staff and fresh products, I would skip right over Panera and stop here for a sandwich anytime.