Einstein Bros. Bagels: Little shop of horrible

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J. Wohletz
Every time I leave Einstein's, I feel like I have just left a cathouse -- I'm sticky, covered with crumbs, and my wallet is considerably lighter...because I just got f*cked.

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J. Wohletz
About seven years ago, I stopped by an Einie's up the street from my apartment in Albuquerque for my usual Asiago Cheese Bagel with plain schmear, lettuce and tomato, and it cost a couple of bucks more than usual. When I inquired as to the price hike, the employee told me that extras weren't free. I protested the implication of my produce freeloading, because I'd gladly paid the less-then-a-dollar up-charge before, but the employee informed me that lettuce and tomatoes are expensive.

I needed that bucket of lettuce-slop reality thrown at me, so that I would break free from my co-dependent relationship with Einstein's and instead get my bagels from a local shop. And it worked: I never looked back until this week, when I stopped visited the Einstein Bros. Bagels at 1025 East Ninth Avenue (that's Ninth and Corona to you) to sample the new "Smart Choices" menu.

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J. Wohletz
While I was ordering, I peered at the baskets of regular bagels behind the counter, and they seemed quite a bit smaller than I remembered.

The new menu items are advertised as "14 Options Each Under 350 Calories and 15 G of Fat," and include two Bagel Thin Eggwhite Sandwiches, Southwest Turkey-Sausage and Asparagus, Mushroom & Swiss; two Bagel Thin Sandwiches, Tuscan Chicken Pesto and Garden Herb Turkey; two Bagel Thin Melts, Cheesy Turkey and Cheesy Chicken & Asparagus; such Gourmet Salads as Chipotle Chicken; and two Low-Fat Smoothies: Ultimate Blueberry and Strawberry Banana.

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J. Wohletz
I ordered all of these. I was sorry I ordered any of them, except the salad.

The salad was pre-made and boxed for grab-and-go, and it was fresh, crisp, visually appealing and Romaine-only -- no hint of iceberg. The chicken was cubed white breast meat, lightly seasoned and not overly salty, the toppings were roasted red peppers, tomatoes, red onion and a Southwestern-seasoned black bean and corn salsa. The dressing was good; it tasted like a smoky Catalina. Not bad.

But bad was coming up quickly -- the minute I unwrapped the first thin bagel sandwich, in fact.

While I understood that "thin" was meant to describe the toasted bagel slices, all of the sandwiches, breakfast and lunch, were noticeably thin on everything. The melts were housed in boxes that were disproportionately large for the small amount of actual food, and every single thin bagel on every single sandwich and melt was badly toasted, with inedible hard spots, chunks missing from the tops and sides, and burn marks.

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J. Wohletz
The Cheesy Chicken & Asparagus melt was pathetically undersized, topped with tinny-tasting, precooked and reheated chicken strips, a few shreds of cheese, and the worst possible cuts of asparagus -- tiny, woody nuggets with no flavor. I had to spit them out in a napkin because they were all fibers and no juicy middles. The sandwich was also chilly. It wasn't supposed to be.

The Cheesy Turkey Melt was a joke that wasn't funny. Two stale, unwieldy bagel slices, a few drab slices of processed deli turkey, and a few strands of melted cheese.

I don't know how the kitchen managed to screw up the smoothies, too, but mission accomplished. They both contained visible globs of unmixed syrup and smoothie mix, and were so heavy on the fake vanilla that they were cloying. The blueberry one didn't even taste like blueberries.

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J. Wohletz
The two Bagel Thin Eggwhite Sandwiches were filled with evidence of microwaving: cold spots, warm spots and spots in each that were too tough and dry to chew. The Southwest Turkey-Sausage was a mess: The egg whites were rubber, the sausage flavorless, the dump of canned green salsa didn't help, and the bagel slices looked that they'd been on the wrong side of a domestic dispute. As for the Asparagus, Mushroom & Swiss? The same horrible asparagus as the melt, I doubted that cheese had ever seen anything Swiss, and the mushrooms were a sloppy mess of cold, saline and failure.

The Tuscan Chicken Pesto and Garden Herb Turkey sandwiches deserved to be slam-dunked into the nearest garbage can. They were arctic, stiff and bereft of fillings. The turkey sandwich tasted like lettuce -- just lettuce. There was more lettuce than turkey. So much for my seven-year-old theory that Einie's delicately portions out its precious, expensive lettuce leaves.

And the saddest part of this hellish-hell-horror meal? The price tag.

Each bagel sandwich was about $5 each. I have to give Einstein's mad props for finding an effective way to sell half the portions at full price, and dupe people into believing they are getting some kind of healthy value. And I now understand why the chain keeps peppering the local papers with coupons -- it has to find ways to get people to return to the stores.

As for me, I wouldn't eat this food again if Einstein's sent it to my house with candy and a stripper.



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16 comments
scaelon3
scaelon3

Worked at the corporate office.  HR wouldn't know good customer service if they went to Panera. 


The HR department needs to go away.  They good people they hire end up being managed by terrible managers until all they leave and then they are left with the worst employees.


No chance for change because they keep promoting the people with the worst attitudes.

GuestServices
GuestServices

As a company representative for the Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Inc, I was very disappointed to read about your recent experience at Einstein Bros. Bagels.  We apologize for your experience, as it does not meet our high food quality standards.  We have communicated this information to our operations leadership team to rectify the issue.  We would appreciate the opportunity to have one of our Area Business Managers follow up directly with you.  If you would like to be contacted about this situation, please contact our guest services department at guestservices@einsteinnoah.com or 1-800-BAGEL-ME.  Thank you for your feedback.

Bradman
Bradman

I've been back twice for the SW turkey thin thing. Did i just revoke my own cool card? (joke's on you... It expired 15 years ago)

Dadams26
Dadams26

If I might say a word to all the haters. I am the manager of a locally franchised Einstein's Bagels in Knoxville, TN, and I must say that you all have clearly had poor experiences. I've seen the pictures above and clearly that location isn't doing itself any favors, but at the location I manage we have extraordinary success that includes business from new, existing, and a large volume of catering customers. We have a fantastic product that not only tastes amazing, but is beautiful in presentation. Don't write off Einstein's just yet. Some of us work hard to please our customers.

Scott B
Scott B

Einstein's went to shit right about when they stopped selling salt bagels, and replaced them with some parmesan-asiago cheese bullshit, around 1998. If you walk into a bagel place and they don't have salt bagels on the board, turn around and walk out, because whatever you get is going to fucking suck.

Annie
Annie

I got some iced tea there a while back, and admittedly, guzzled it on an empty stomach.  Three minutes later, I had to pull over to boot into the gutter, right in front of some people playing tennis. 

Number Three
Number Three

A food chain gave you shitty food? WHA?! I am shocked! Next, you'll be writing about how the burgers at Burger King don't look like the pictures.

Two Words: Support Local.Two More Words: Moe's Bagels.

XO,3

GFTW
GFTW

I recently saw an Einie's and had the same reaction when I see a Boston Market: "Oh, wow, they're still in business?"

Hey Jennstir, u gonna get Shunk's job??? Then I can get yours!!!!

T.Hendy
T.Hendy

How they are still in business ??? - I have not stepped into one in about 6 years for similar reasons and I don't know anyone else who will even go there - 

DougE Fresh
DougE Fresh

There is a reason they are about to be bought out or go under.

Dan N.
Dan N.

Couldn't agree with you more.  Yuk.  Moe's on Speer never lets me down.

Jenn Loves Bagels
Jenn Loves Bagels

 @d94f0070ca38e4e8161cee15b9b974ae:disqus: I'd be more worried about involuntarily revoking your stomach contents in the parking lot.

Jenn Loves Bagels
Jenn Loves Bagels

 @863faa4d6c2e546ccf2fb2a33d518191:disqus: Thank you for posting here! I think a lot of us really, genuinely used to like Einie's. This store in particular is not the best representative of the chain--I'll grant you that, but that store is in a busy part of town with major foot traffic, and I was shocked at how lousy the customer service was, and how expensive the food was for what I got. I dunno how they are successful. I don't know why the owners/operators would let such a prime piece of restaurant real estate go to waste like that.

offdisc
offdisc

Yes yes and more yes!  Asagio cheese? What the hell kind of bagel is that? Blueberry was the begining of the trend away from "salt, onion, garlic, pumpernickle,poppy,etc..". The begining of the end -- and Einsteins jumped WAY off the cliff!  

Jenn Loves Bagels
Jenn Loves Bagels

 @GFTW:disqus : I can't even apply for Laura's job, because I'm too busy writing my first book--"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Tater Tots."

C'mon, dude! You don't want my job--you wanna do something Republican-y like kick poor people or something. : )

GFTW
GFTW

Looking forward to your book!! Good luck -- you can do it!!

Yeah, I'd probably just end up reviewing Shanahan's and Elway's again and again and again and again and again and...

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