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.

Pros:

  • Pros: Bread is perfectly grilled. Cheese is gooey, stretchy, flavorful, and surprisingly flavorful. Roasted Tomato spread adds depth of sweetness and tomato-paste quality. Spinach mixture makes the egg whites taste anything like the most bland flavor on the planet. No additional charge for subbing whites for whole egg. Cheap and darn good coffee.

    Cons: Bacon, as in not enough. A little pricey. Even with whites, still not exactly a "light breakfast." Too much bread for egg white.

    Taste: 8.50/10
    Value: 6.75/10
    Grubbing on-the-go: 4.00/10
    Price: $5.50 (free with purchase of beverage with birthday coupon)

    Overall GrubGrade: 8.00/10

    Nutrition Facts:
    Bacon and Spinach Egg White Panini from Einstein Bros.
    Calories: 540
    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

  • 14 comments on “Review: Bacon and Spinach Egg White Panini from Einstein Bros.

    1. Keith says:

      Have I thrown in my two cents on the futility of eating egg whites? Not only is it lame and unmanly, but also pointless – all of the nutritional value of the egg is in the yolk and for just a few extra calories you get the nutritional benefit, a filling meal and it actually tastes like something. Plus egg whites always come out rubbery.

      Add that to the measly bacon coverage and what appears to be pre-frozen “creamed” spinach, and you couldn’t pay me to eat the overpriced contraption.

      Don’t blame Subway for bland egg white – egg whites are, by definition, bland. Mixing them with some sort of spinach mixture just makes them taste like spinach mixture with a rubbery egg white texture.

      • Adam says:

        Yolks are useless when cooked through. I love ’em runny, but not in sandwiches.

        And please, Keith. Until you’ve at least tried something like this, don’t write it off completly. Have you tried the panini? I can’t even begin to describe how much better this is than any “melt” I’ve ever had from Subway.

        • Chefprotoss says:

          Useless when cooked? I’m assuming you are just talking about eggs fried over hard. Omelets, egg salad, deviled eggs etc… You kind of need cooked yolk.

          • Adam says:

            Nope, I meant what I said. That’s how I like my eggs. Not a big egg salad or deviled egg guy at all, mostly because I find the taste of the yolk worthless on its own, kind of like an egg white on its own.

            But that’s just me, and no amount of chefy wisdom will convince my taste buds otherwise.

            • Chefprotoss says:

              Yeah, different strokes I guess. When fried, I prefer my eggs over medium. You get the rich goodness of raw yoke, which makes a sauce over the slightly fluffy cooked yolk. Contrast in textures = happy me. =)

            • rob says:

              I’m the opposite, I like the taste of the yolk but dislike the white.

            • Keith says:

              Egg whites are good for two things – meringue and as an emulsifier in a good gin fizz!

              The yolk is the only part of the egg that has flavor. I agree that yolks in hard boiled eggs have an unpleasant texture… but “egg white omelet” is an abomination.

              Besides, this is just a discussion about the product – your review hasn’t convinced me I’d like to try this (this is one of the reasons I enjoy reading GrubGrade, to find out if I’d want to try something like this). I don’t believe there is an Einstein Bros. anywhere near me, but I’ll probably avoid this sandwich if I ever find myself at one.

        • Raiders757 says:

          Nasty! I hate runny yolks, but to each his own.

          “Note to self, if Grubgrade Adam is ever a guest, make sure to serve him runny yolks.”

    2. Anon says:

      Dang, look at that cheese! That looks so good; great pictures, too, Adam!

      I like that EBB give you the option of whether or not you want yolks or just whites. As someone who’s not a big fan of the way that ‘full’ eggs taste, I always prefer just to have the whites.

    3. Adam says:

      @Chef, see, I like it for texture and richness when soaked into bread. That or on top of a burger. I never was an “breakfast sandwich” guy, so I just didn’t get into the habit of eating eggs at all growing up. But I know you’re starting your healthy kick, so I think the switch over would work well even for someone who is used to the full egg mixture.

      • Chefprotoss says:

        Agreed 1000% on yolk plus bread. You just gave me an idea… For a dish… Hmmm…

        Oh, and the egg debate aside, that sandwich looks amazing.

    4. Daisy says:

      That sandwich looks delicious!!

    5. Chefprotoss says:

      Ah Hah! Dueling Decadence!

      Two crusty slices of European toast. One dipped in egg yolk, topped with roasted tomato jam. The other with seared duck liver(or pate), with a light chive-citrus oil drizzled on top -9

      Thanks Adam. Seriously, I was pondering how to combine the awesomeness off yolk and bread and put it on a menu. It has kept me up all night. You are a genius broseph!

      The best part of eggs and toast refined! Huzzah!

    6. Lindsay says:

      Wow. I must be strange, because I actually like egg whites. I like that slight rubber texture, mixed with some butter, salt and pepper. 🙂

    7. kathleen taylor says:

      one of our best selling sandwiches. one of my persanal favorites, along with the egg white pennini sanwiches