Monday, October 20, 2014

Food News: Pret a Manger's Fall Menu and Chicago Exclusives

There are many reasons Brandy has grown fond of Pret a Manger over the last few years.  Everything they offer is freshly made, the ingredients are local and top notch, the service is always amazingly friendly, and the menus are ever changing to keep things exciting.  "Places like Pret have spoiled me a little when it comes to fast, casual dining," as Brandy likes to say, "Even on the days I'm not going to some elaborate brunch, I know I can pop into one their shops and find something to satisfy any craving I've got."

Though she couldn't be more pleased with Pret a Manger as it is, Brandy was pleasantly surprised to learn that new items were starting to appear in locations across the city which are Chicago exclusive items.  Feeling as though she is some sort of super hero guardian over Chicago's food scene, Brandy felt compelled to try some of these items out for the good of the city's citizens.

The first Chicago exclusive item she tried was the Angus Beef Melt Toastie, which consisted of thick slices of roast beef, red onions, Swiss cheese, mushrooms, and mustard mayo on a hearty artisan bread.  Brandy loved this combination of flavors, but thought the sandwich was a touch on the dry side on the whole after it had been toasted.  A little cup of beef broth to accompany it would not only have solved this problem, but added a nice little touch of Chicago to the beef.

Next, she sampled the Chicago Meatball Hot Wrap with pork and beef meatballs smothered in marinara sauce and loaded with lots of melty cheese.  The packaging on the wrap was pretty ingenious, as it opened in such a way that one could hold the wrap without getting one's hands messy.  The wrap itself was pretty typical for a meatball sandwich, but done well, and the substitution of the tortilla for the bread meant there was nothing to interfere with the meaty goodness.  Brandy couldn't quite decide what was so Chicago about this Chicago Meatball Hot Wrap, but she liked it just the same.

Deciding to stick with the cheese theme, Brandy then went for the brand new Mac and Cheese, which came in a vegetarian variety with spinach and tomato, and a carnivore variety with bacon (of course, she decided on the bacon one).  The normally rich dish had been cut with cauliflower to make it a little healthier without sacrificing the creaminess, which Brandy surprisingly liked, as it added a bit of crunchy texture as well.  The bacon was nice and smokey and in big enough chunks that any true bacon fan wouldn't be left wondering where it was.

Lastly, Brandy sampled the Sweet Potato Falafel Flatbread, which is a new item in locations all across the country.  The wrap consisted of lots of Middle Eastern flavors with not only the falafel, but a drizzle of tzatziki sauce, pickled cabbage, and fresh herbs.  Though expecting the falafel to be a bit crunchier, Brandy found this version to be soft and sweet, but still with a good amount of texture to it.  The fresh veggies and herbs ensured that every bite was bright and exciting.

There were many more new dishes on the Pret a Manger menu, like the BBQ Pork Hot Wrap, the Spicy Chicken Toastie, and the Chicken Caesar and Bacon Baguette, but Brandy had to put those off for another day.  With what she had sampled so far, she felt she had done her duty and protected the masses from bland, wasteful food for another day, so she was off to another exciting adventure (in other words, she was full, so she went to her knitting circle meeting).

The writers of this blog were invited to dine free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

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