As closely as I follow the food world, I am consistently surprised by the things I do not know. Most recently one of those things is that March happens to be national noodle month. Trust me; I’m not the only one just finding this out. However, unlike national tutu month, national coniferous tree month, national tan car month, or whatever other random items have gotten themselves a national month designation I really like and care about noodles.
There are as many variations of noodles as there are fruits or types of meats. Almost every single genre of cuisine around the world incorporates some sort of noodle into one of their favorite dishes. So when I was offered the chance to go to a tasting at Noodles & Co last week I thought, what better way to celebrate the month of the noodle than by going around the world (at least cuisine-wise) at a place named Noodles.
Noodles & Co. is in many ways like every other quick service restaurant you drop into for a quick lunch or dinner. In many other ways, Noodles sets itself apart from your typical quick service restaurant in their offerings and food preparation. Every dish at Noodle’s (aside from soups) is made from scratch for each order, meaning you can customize your selection by adding more mushrooms or taking out the broccoli. You can choose from numerous proteins, and even go vegetarian with tofu. Offering two different sized bowls means they have a portion that is just right no matter what your appetite. Recently Noodles & Co. starting highlighting the items on their menu that are 500 calories or less so you can still dine out even while watching what you eat. They even have a nutritional card allowing you to see what dishes contain certain allergens so that you can avoid particular dishes if you have a nut, gluten, diary, or other common allergy.
Of course with all the good reasons to go into Noodles for a meal, we shouldn’t raise our expectations above what they are. While they don’t serve the millions a day that pass through the golden arches, they still are a fairly high volume and quick serve restaurant. This means that much of the food is frozen, not fresh, and you can still easily find yourself with a high fat, heavy calorie meal if you aren’t paying attention.
On this most recent trip in to the Noodles located at the Northwest Corner of 135th and Metcalf we were treated to a sampling of various dishes from the different regions of their menu. If you haven’t been in before, the Noodles menu features food from 4 categories. They are American, Asian, Mediterranean, and sandwiches. Each of these categories contains entrees along with at least one soup and salad selection. We started off with a couple of the salads and the pot sticker appetizers. The pot stickers are pretty good, if not pretty standard fare that you’d find at any above average Asian restaurant. From this round, my favorite was The Med Salad. Featuring some cavatapi pasta mixed in with the salad greens, black olives, feta cheese, and a tzatziki yogurt dressing it was refreshing and very tasty. Not your typical fast food salad.
In the entrees section, we sampled some of the various bowls along with the adult mac & cheese dishes that are being featured on the menu. We were given the Bangkok Curry and I was pleasantly surprised by the flavors. I like curries, and while this doesn’t really qualify as a traditional curry, the coconut milk sauce was not overpowering and complimented the dish well. I also enjoyed the Penne Rosa. This Italian inspired dish has a little heat to it, tossed with a spicy tomato cream sauce. Among the Adult Mac & Cheeses, I thought the Truffle Mac was the most sophisticated of them, and the Bacon Mac & Cheese was like a bacon cheeseburger with a side of mac and cheese in a bowl, working well together. The Chili Mac was probably my least favorite dish. I know that chili served over noodles is big in the rust belt, particularly Ohio, but it just seemed a little haphazardly thrown together.
All in all, we had a pleasant experience. For what Noodles & Co aims to do, they do pretty darn well. They aren’t a fine dining five star type restaurant; they want to get customers looking for a quick bite in and out in a timely manner while serving them above average food. This they definitely accomplish.
Atmosphere: 2.5 Cows out of 5 Food: 3.5 Cows out of 5 13448 Metcalf Ave. Overland Park, KS 66213