Forks Down: Cafe Edition

I try three different bakeries near Northwest

Izak Zeller (he/him)

Panera Bread


Panera Bread. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear that? Delicious soups, fancy menu items or maybe even the scent of fresh bread. I have never been to Panera, so it was a top pick for me when my AP Euro study group was looking for a place to eat.

As I drove into the cracked and messy looking parking lot, I noticed it. The cream colored building with a tan colored sign above that read “Panera Bread.” I was so excited to try one of their iconic dishes. When I walked in, it wasn’t very clear how to order. Me and my study group waited at the main counter, but nobody came.

Eventually we figured out that you had to use little devices they have on a far counter to order. I walked up to the device with my guard up. I had never used one one of them before and was curious as to how they worked.

I scrolled through the food options on the screen until I found my target, the mac and cheese. I had heard good things about it from my friends. I clicked on the mac button, and a customization option popped up. I decided to have my mac and cheese in a bread bowl.

I then decided to order a drink and a brownie. Specifically their green passion smoothie. After my friends ordered their food we all sat down. One by one, an employee called our names as our orders finished up.

My order came on a shiny plastic tray on top of a fancy looking napkin. I saw the crumbly, hollow, round ball of bread filled with gooey, chewy mac and cheese. I grabbed the wide spoon and used it to scoop the shells dripping with warm cheese. 

The mac and cheese was delicious in the bread bowl. The little pieces of bread that fell into the mac added some much needed texture. After the mac and cheese was gone, I was left with a cheesy, flaky bread bowl to munch on. 

To top it all off, the sweet hints of my smoothie and brownie added a tanginess to the experience.

Overall, this was a delicious study snack that I definitely recommend you ordering.


Black Dog Coffeehouse


When I walked into Black Dog Coffeehouse, I was met with a table lined, modern looking cafe. As I walked along the tables, I noticed the fresh coffee smell and the sound of people chatting about the various things in their lives. 

As I strolled up to the bar-like counter, lined with low hanging lights with screwed-in edison bulbs, I was immediately greeted by a cheerful employee. She asked me what I wanted and after a quick look on the menu, I decided on their Cranberry Walnut toast. Now this isn’t just any toast. It’s a thick piece of bread, toasted to perfection, slathered in almond butter, honey drizzle and a sprinkle of sea salt.

I ordered it to-go as I didn’t have the time to sit in the coffeehouse and I was very grateful that they offered that option. Some restaurants don’t offer this so it’s always nice to see ones that do. 

After I ordered my food, I sat down at one of the open tables to wait. The turnaround time was snappy, especially for the food I received. A glamorous looking, crunchy piece of fruity, nutty bread covered in delicious, cream colored almond butter.

As I took my first bite, I was met with the wonderful texture of crunchy walnut. Then, the sweetness of the cranberries hit me like a train. Although it’s called “Cranberry Walnut Toast,” I wasn’t expecting it to be as sweet as it was. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing though. Then I got a splash of saltiness. I have to be honest, I totally forgot about the sprinkle of sea salt. But that saltiness balanced out the sweetness quite nicely.

Overall, this was an incredible piece of bread and I definitely recommend you try it.


The Pantry


The Pantry is a local bakery right on Quivira. They serve everything from macaroons to sugar cookies. When I pulled up to the store I saw a little sign and smiled. The sign read “Woman-Owned Business.” It’s important to support small businesses, but especially women owned businesses because you are putting your money towards economic gender equality.

When I walked in, I saw an island in the center of the bakery. All over the table were different pastries for sale. Cakes and cookies and cupcakes, oh my. A nice employee greeted me as I walked in. 

After looking around the light blue confectionary, I decided to get their whoopie pie. For those of you who don’t know, a whoopie pie is two round pieces of chocolate cake with an icing in the center. The particular one I got had strawberry icing in the center. I hadn’t eaten anything that day,so I also got one of their breakfast croissant sandwiches. 

When I opened up the foil that my sandwich came in, I saw a delicious looking, perfectly done sandwich. When I bit into it, I tasted a perfectly done egg on top of sharp cheese, all with salty bacon on top. It all mixed so well with each other that I couldn’t put the sandwich down.

After I had finished that, I moved on to the whoopie pie. When I chomped on it, I was met with a crumbly cake with soft fluffy strawberry icing. They paired so well with each other it almost feels impossible. The only negative I have is that it was so rich that I could barely finish it.

Overall, this was a wonderful little bakery and I will definitely be back soon.