Monthly Archives: October 2017

Steppin’ Out – Panera Bread, Folsom

Some time ago my daughter and I visited a Panera Bread restaurant in Sacramento. It was not a good experience: very poor service, the order was screwed up and some of the ingredients should have been tossed rather than served. I was not happy, so I contacted both the store and the company itself. They never even replied. Thus, I wrote nothing about them.

Jumping forward a few years, my friend Russ Salazar has been after me for some time to go to the Panera Bread at 380 Palladio Pkwy, Ste 301 in Folsom. We had driven by it several times, but never stopped.

I am sure you recall, he loves good bread, so a few weeks ago he gave me a gift card to Panera and told me that now we had to go there. After all, they deserved another try.

We has originally planned on visiting Taqueria El Dorado in El Dorado Hills, but when we got there he mentioned that later he wanted to visit the Hospice Thrift store in Folsom. I told him that if we were going to Folsom, we might as well visit Panera at the same time. So, we did.

Indoor parking is available right next to Panera, so, depending on the time, you might be able to park only a short distance from the front door. For some reason, we ended up on the second story of the parking structure, but since I have traded my walker for a cane, it was okay.
At Panera you order at the counter and then find a table. Or, you can order electronically from some computers they have. This was Russ’ first time, so he decided to do the ordering and from a real person.

There was a couple in front of us ordering when we arrived and it seemed to be taking way too long for them. Why would become apparent to us when we ordered.

The menu is a bit confusing to a first-timer, with several sizes of sandwiches and a lot of opportunities to order what they call a “Pick Two.” On top of that, both Russ and I were having a very difficult time understanding the person taking the orders.

Oh, it wasn’t a language thing, he was speaking English, but just too low and too fast. It just got more and more complicated as we tried to order two different sandwiches, a soup and a salad, all to share.

Finally we ordered a half Roasted Turkey and Avocado BLT and a half Steak and White Cheddar Panini, along with a Watermelon Feta salad and a cup of Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice soup. Russ added a soda, I chose water.

The sides came with a choice of a soft dinner roll, whole grain roll, a baguette, chips or an apple. We chose the baguette, it being a bakery and we wanting to try as many of their breads as possible.

While Russ went looking for drinks other than coffee, the vibrating unit that they handed us went off. As I stood there, a kind lady directed me to where to pick up the food. Next time I will know where everything is located.

The two sandwiches were both excellent. The Turkey BLT was on sourdough bread and the panini on a Hoagie roll.

Most of the greens in the Watermelon Feta salad were arugula, which I really like and thought went well with the watermelon and the bit of added mint. Unfortunately, to Russ arugula is like eating cilantro, something he does not do. But, he was game and tried it.

Russ really liked the Chicken and Wild Rice soup. He thought it reminded him of that served by Canter’s, a famous Jewish Delicatessen in Los Angeles. I liked it, but thought it was lacking both in chicken and wild rice.

The baguettes were disappointing. Russ thought they would be crunchy on the outside, but they were really kind of tough. He felt that a place known for its bread would have better baguettes. Taste-wise, they were okay, especially when slathered with butter.

Russ kept going to the drink area and trying the various juice combinations. Then he would come back and say, “Try this.” There was some really unusual combinations of juices, but he thought they all tasted a bit watered down. It turned out they were flavored waters, not juice drinks and, therefore, weak. They need more signs to explain things like that.

Panera Bread has quite a large menu of very different salads, soups and sandwiches, along with their baked goods, a kid’s menu and, yes, breakfast items including sandwiches, yogurts and souffles.

Because they try to use the freshest ingredients, some of their menu items are seasonal, such as the watermelon salad. You can read and even print both their regular and catering menus at www.panerabread.com.

The Folsom Panera Bread restaurant is open from 6 until 9, every day but Sunday, when they don’t open until 7. For more information you can call (916) 984-4953.

Free Wi-Fi and there were a number of people there with their computers, nursing a cup of coffee.

Steppin’ Out – Wayback Burgers, Folsom

Originally started as Jake’s Burgers in 1991, at a location in Delaware, Wayback Burgers specializes in hand-pressed, never-frozen burger patties, hand-scooped milkshakes, turkey burgers, chicken sandwiches and monthly specials. From this simple start, Wayback Burgers has grown into an expanding chain of restaurants with 120 locations in 27 states and several foreign countries. Their future plans include a number of restaurants in the United States, the Mid-East and Northern Africa.

Wayback was chosen as the name for the restaurant because they want to provide food the way it used to be. They pride themselves in moving backward in that one sense.

Russ Salazar and I were on our “first Saturday” trip to all the Hospice Thrift Stores to buy things we really don’t need for 50% off and decided to stop at the Wayback Burgers at 1300 East Bidwell in Folsom. We had passed it on other Saturdays, and this was going to be our first visit.
It is the corner business in a small mall on the north side of East Bidwell, just east of Blue Ravine. The outside walls are all glass, giving it a great natural lighting.

It was very clean and the decor is “retro,” like “burger joints” from the 1950s.

You order at the counter and they give you a number to take to your table, then deliver your food to you when it is ready.

Since I am still a bit “out of sorts” with my new knee, Russ ordered while I found a table. For our test meal, he decided on a Crispy Chicken BLT that stood out on a poster in the window and a single cheeseburger with American cheese, “their way” – lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and onions. To this he added an order of “O-Fries” which are a mix of onion rings and French fries (like the “Frings” we got in South Lake Tahoe). He had considered a chili dog, but remembered neither of us needed a third sandwich (or a second one for that matter).

As we were waiting for our food, I noticed a picture of a Triple-Triple burger that you can purchase for about $18. It is not three burger patties and three slices of cheese, but nine of both (2200 calories if you wonder). I still haven’t figured out how you could eat that one…or why.

Soon the food arrived, delivered by a very happy and friendly young lady, who would later even refill our drinks for us.

The sandwiches were both cut in half, as Russ had asked, and I started with the burger. It was very good and both Russ and I both commented that the bun was different and excellent. The bun was a bit yellow and the nice young lady told us it was an egg bun.

The Crispy Chicken BLT was likewise very good. Russ liked the crust on the chicken. I thought it might have been cooked a bit too long, but was still very good.

When I first looked at the picture of the Crispy Chicken BLT I mentioned to Russ that the bread looked like a hamburger bun that was upside down. Sure enough, I was right, the young lady said. Inside out buns for non-burgers, a novel idea.

We both really liked the onion rings and the fries. The onion rings were nicely cooked with a great crust and the skin-on fries were crispy and full length. There were very few little pieces in the container. Russ said he likes the little pieces since they are usually crisper.

All in all, the food was very good and much better than I had expected.

The menu are Wayback Burgers is fairly large. They have quite a list of burgers and other sandwiches, including a Cheeeesy, Chipotle, Rodeo, Philly and a Cheesesteak. There are also chicken, turkey and veggie sandwiches, hot dogs several ways, chicken tenders and a WB Cod sandwich. And a selection of specials.

Their real speciality is you creating your own burger. You start with a Single, Classic (double) or a Triple patty burger, select your cheese, top it off their way or your way and add your choice of sauce. They will even let you select the spices for the meat. I usually look at those lists and have the person make it the way they like it. It saves a lot of decisions.

For sides they have fries in many combinations, Mac & Cheese Bites, House-Made Chips and something called Irish Nachos, which have no connection to Ireland other than the fact that the jalapeños on them are green.

They also have salads, several kids meals, fountain drinks and real milkshakes and malts, made the way they should be with hand-scooped ice cream.

The Wayback Burgers in Folsom is open daily from 10 until 10 and can be reached at (916) 597-2697. You can also look at their menu and find other locations at www.waybackburgers.com.

As an interesting side note, because of a larger Islamic population in that area, their location in Milpitas, CA serves Halal meat.

Steppin’ Out – The (Little Italian) Place, Placerville

For the past couple of weeks, Facebook has been alive with comments about the recent opening of The Place, a small Italian restaurant at the southwest corner of Pleasant Valley and Buck’s Bar roads, a few miles east of Diamond Springs.

Russ Salazar and I don’t usually visit restaurants this soon after they open, but when I saw they had a meatball “Grind-ah” I had to go.

Years ago, when I lived in southern California, my brother and I would go to the parking lot of a local supermarket and from a small trailer buy a meatball grinder, which was a long Italian roll full of warm meatballs, marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. To it the proprietor would offer a generous sprinkle of crushed chile flakes, which he, and the two of us, believed completed the sandwich. They were delicious and often the dinner for we two bachelors.

Obviously, when I saw The Place had the meatball “Grind-ah” on their menu, I knew I couldn’t wait to try it.

If you are wondering, the words Submarine, Hoagie and Grinder are the names of similar sandwiches with different origins, be it location or the group who named it. Most are on a long roll, but sometimes aren’t.

I’m still a bit incapacitated due to a recent total knee replacement, so Russ offered to come by my house, pick me and my walker up and take us to The Place. Although it was close to 2 p.m. on a Saturday (and their Grand Opening Weekend), we were able to find a parking place near the door and seats inside at a table with higher chairs (easier for me to get in and out of).

Once you find a table, you follow a line by the menu, which is posted on the wall, order your food at the counter and they give you a number for your table. Russ did all the hard work and ordered us a Meatball “Grind-ah” and a Sausage “Grind-ah.” A few minutes later he would add a small slice of Truffled Mushroom Sicilian Pizza, which is pre-made and offered cold or warmed. He opted to have it warmed.

He wanted a diet soda to have with his meal, but their selection of sodas are all in bottles and a bit fancy for him. He and I both decided to have water, which the have self-serve with lemon in it.

Soon the sandwiches, both on house baked rolls, arrived and we split them.

I started with the meatball “Grind-ah” and it was delicious, albeit a bit bland for me. It contained handmade meatballs, marinara, provolone and mozzarella.

I asked the always smiling and very friendly lovely young lady who delivered our food for some crushed chilies to put on my sandwich (don’t most pizza places have packets of those?) and was told they did not have them. It was still very good, but I believe it would have been better with a bit of a bite from them. Russ like it, but thought it tasted a bit too canned “tomatoey.”

The Sausage “Grind-ah” was a complete surprise. It contained slow cooked Italian sausage, onions, roasted peppers, smoked mozzarella and Dijon.

I expected pieces of the usual fatty and delicious Italian sausage like are found on most pizzas, but these were a different type of Italian sausage, drier and sliced thin. It was very good, the flavors really worked together and, as with the other sandwich, the bread was outstanding.

The Sicilian Pizza was on a spongy, inch thick crust with truffled mushrooms, caramelized onions, asiago, mozzarella and olive oil. I loved the taste and the crust, but Russ thought there was really too much crust. “Pizza has vastly improved since they went to super thin crusts,” he commented to me. I guess he should stay away from Sicilian pizza with its thick crust.

Their menu starts with a list of Antipasti from Garlic Cheese Bread to Bruchetta and “Mickey’s Big Balls” (a meatball sandwich minus the bread). These are followed by the Insalata, which include The Original Grammy’s, Caesar, Caprese and more.

The Panini & Grind-ah’s include a Caprese, Sweet Smokey Chicken and the two we tried.

Under Piatto di Pasta you will find Smokey Maccheroni e Formaggio, Linguine Bolognese, Pesto di Limone, Boscaiola, Linguini Marinara, Ravioli e Pornodoro and a 10 layer Lasagne alla Bolognese (limited amount, served Friday and Saturday only)

Finally, what you are probably looking for, Pizza and Calzones. These are prepared with 24 hour fermented dough and baked in a 700 degree wood fired oven.

The mouth watering list includes Trio Formaggio, Quattro Formaggio, Smokey Mushroom, Americana, Salaciccia, Mickey’s Meatball, The Green Monsta’, the True Woodsman, Sweet Pig, the House Margherita and Prosciuto. Oh, for dessert Tiramisu and Cannoli, both handmade.

Beer, wine and bottled soda are available to accompany your meal.

The Place is presently open from noon until 8, Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, and until 9 or later Friday and Saturday. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Both outdoor and indoor seating available, but remember, it is a small restaurant.

For more information, call (530) 621-1680 or visit thelittleitalianplace.com. And yes, this The Place has the same owner and chef as the very popular The Place in Roseville.

Oh, while waiting for your food, check out the lamp shades made from old tomato cans, colanders and even a giant whisk from a commercial mixer.