Review: Bacon and Spinach Egg White Panini from Einstein Bros.
I seldom eat breakfast out, but I do make a regular point to try to grab coffee at Einstein Brothers Bagels if I’m nearby. I’ve been going to various Einstein Bros. locations for years, and aside from being a solid option to meet up with friends or mull over the Sunday Sports section, you really can’t beat their coffee. Five different roasts brewing, with bottomless cups. And did I mention each one of those visits is only a little over a buck if you have one of their refillable mugs?
Of course, their bagels are pretty good too, as is their Nova and Lox. But when it comes to the breakfast sandwiches — including their Egg Paninis — I’ve been reluctant to test the waters. Priced at $5.50 each, the paninis are not the kind of thing I can work into my daily routine. But giving one a try once and a while can’t hurt, can it?
Definitely not, especially when Einstein Bros. rewards its email club members with a free breakfast sandwich coupon for their birthday. It’s a smart concept if you ask me — get someone to try something once, and if they like it, chances are they’ll find a way to pay their way for it in the future. Celebrating a birthday of my own recently, I popped into the fast casual cafe to see if the Bacon and Spinach Egg Panini was something I’d want to start making a part of my complete breakfast.
Egg, smoked bacon, swiss and mozzarella cheeses with spicy roasted tomato spread.
Having the option to replace the egg mixture with egg whites at no additional cost is something Einstein’s has gone to recently, and I have to say I’m a big fan. The 540 calories in the Bacon and Spinach Egg White Panini might not be “light eating,” but it’s still better than the 690 calories you’d be downing for the full egg mixture version. The good news is you’re not missing much by opting for egg whites. I’ve had bland egg white sandwiches before (ahem, Subway) but by mixing a surprisingly tasty spinach mixture within the egg white — not to mention smothering both sides with cheese — Einstein Bros. creates something oddly satisfying. The spinach mixture itself is almost a creamed version that tastes strongly of butter and spices, but what really gets me is how the whole sandwich comes together.
Balanced would be the right adjective. The cheese is perfectly melted, to the point where the blend is giving off enough of that milky fat flavor while also stretching like a perfectly made slice of pizza. That flavor is entangled with classic Italian herbs and a satisfying depth of tomato sweetness that adds to the umami factor. I really find myself liking how the spread has melted into the cheese and bread. It adds a great garlic flavor as well, which also complements the slightly sweet ciabatta bread. Take a look at those grill marks right there, because that’s how a panini is done. The bread had just enough crisp on the outside to still retain the airy sponge inside, soaking up little specks of cheese that have molded their way into the nooks and crannies.
My only real complaint is the bacon. There’s a single slice, and it verges somewhere between fast food and fast casual. Its smoke flavor is par for the course, but given the quality of the rest of the sandwich, it’s underwhelming, and can’t be counted on in every bite. Likewise, it strikes me as too Oscar Mayer “Americanized” to fit into the otherwise Italian flavor profile the panini gives off, and seems out of place. Other complaints are minor; the patty itself could be elongated to account for bites that are dominated by bread only, and cheese and spread portions could be upped, making for a more complete sandwich. But given how some paninis fall apart due to superfluous ingredients, the restraint shown here might be called for.
Overall, I’m quite satisfied, and despite telling myself before ordering that I’d save half the panini as a mid-morning snack, I’m enticed enough by the flavors and textures to eat the whole thing in one sitting. At 590 calories and $5.50 it probably won’t work its way into any typical breakfast routine I have (plus, I enjoy cereal too much). But a Sunday breakfast for mulling over the morning after my alma mater wins the big game? Sign me up.
Cons: Bacon, as in not enough. A little pricey. Even with whites, still not exactly a "light breakfast." Too much bread for egg white.
Grubbing on-the-go: 4.00/10
Price: $5.50 (free with purchase of beverage with birthday coupon)
Overall GrubGrade: 8.00/10
Bacon and Spinach Egg White Panini from Einstein Bros.
Total Fat: 29 grams
Saturated Fat: 8 grams
Cholesterol: 45 mg
Sodium: 1290 mg
Total Carbs: 48 grams
Fiber: 5 grams
Sugars: 3 grams
Protein: 25 grams