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DRIVE-BY DINING

Fast-food that goes to the bread of the class

January 19, 2006|Dog Davis | Special to The Times

BREAD bowls are whimsical. After all, they're bowls -- and you can eat them! Yet whereas their south-of-the-border cousin, the tostada bowl, has frequently been employed for taco salads, the fast-food giants have ignored bread bowls until now.

Quiznos recently introduced three "toasted gourmet" bread bowls. Each begins with a crusty roll that's hollowed out, coated with garlicky olive oil, filled with meat and cheddar, and toasted. Then it's topped with soup and even more cheese.

There are three varieties. Southwest Chicken has roasted chicken topped with chicken corn chowder. Country French Chicken has chicken topped with broccoli cheese soup. And Signature Steak 'N Chili, has -- you guessed it -- steak and chili.

The bowls make a fun diversion, though the $5.49 suggested price for the smallish meal seems a tad high, and we found one store selling them for $5.79.

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Quiznos' Toasted Bread Bowls

Taste ****

Wow. Toasty and tasty! Baking olive oil and cheddar inside the bread apparently helps keep the bowl from getting too soggy too quickly, and there's a wonderful blend of tastes and textures. Each of the varieties rocks pretty hard, though the Country French Chicken, with its rich broccoli cheese soup, rocks the hardest.

Diet Watch**

If Quiznos knows the nutritional info on these puppies, they ain't tellin'. Given the ingredients, one can assume the bowls are high in calories, fat and carbs, but maybe their smallish size works in their favor. They seem less filling compared with the Kong-sized burgers and macho burritos of other chains.

Portability *

The bowls don't travel well. If you order one to go, the soup has to be put in a separate foam container, which you have to dump into the bread later. And eating in the car? Forget it! We recommend ordering this only when you want to sit in a Quiznos and soak up the lush atmosphere. (There's usually a lovely view of the pepper bar.)

Hype-o-meter

0

Currently Quiznos has no bread bowl TV commercials, which is great if you dislike Baby Bob, their bland spokesbaby. Bob, whose failed sitcom ranked 14th among TV Guide's 50 worst shows of all time, makes us long for the Spongmonkeys, that bizarre pair of ugly, hat-wearing, musical rodents who showed up in a spot two years ago.

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* Ratings are on a scale of zero (lowest) to four (best).

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