Right off the bat here I just want to say I didn’t realize how many locations this restaurant had. Until I looked at their website today I thought they were a single location or maybe a small chain, but it seems they are all over the country, mostly in the east. I had never heard of them before though and I’m sure I’m not the only one, so here we go.
My friends Amelia & Eric came up from midtown to see Prometheus (great movie, btw) and do lunch. They chose Noodles & Co from my list and so off we went. They are located in the Fountains shopping center out in front, close to Roseville Parkway, right next to California Pizza Kitchen. I arrived first at about 2PM while my friends were off finding a parking spot. Despite the parking throughout the Fountains being pretty packed overall the restaurant was fairly quiet. For whatever reason I had imagined Noodles & Co as being a table service type of place, but instead you order and pay at a counter in the back.
Once my friends had made their way inside we approached the counter and I started to check out the options. They have it split into three sections (see menu), Mediterranean, Asian & American. They also have a section of sandwiches which I nearly ordered from (the Wisconsin Cheesesteak: marinated steak, Mac & Cheese sauce, cheddar-jack cheese, red onion, bell pepper and mushrooms on ciabatta), but I decided I should probably stick with one of the main sections for my first visit. First, you make a selection from one of these sections, then (for most) you choose a meat or tofu (parmesan-crusted chicken, chicken breast, marinated steak, shrimp, meatballs or organic tofu). Finally for a buck extra you can add a side salad (tossed green, caesar or cucumber tomato) or a cup of soup (Thai curry, chicken noodle or tomato basil bisque).
I decided on the Truffle Mac (“Our signature Mac & Cheese sauce spiked with white truffle oil, sautéed baby portabella mushrooms, parmesan and house-made toasted bread crumbs”. Sounded pretty good to me. I added a cup of the Thai curry soup and went with a fountain drink. It all came to about $13. I headed to grab my soda and was happy to see, for the first time since Dos Coyotes, one of the fantastical new Coke machines with a million flavors. Of course I went with Dr Pepper, which was well mixed and very tasty.
We were seated for less than 5 minutes when our orders began to arrive. Eric ordered the Spaghetti & Meatballs (Five meatballs on spaghetti, crushed tomato marinara and parmesan) and Amelia ordered a bowl of the Thai Curry Soup with organic tofu (yellow coconut curry, broccoli, carrots, red pepper, onion, mushrooms, a “light portion” of rice noodles, served on cabbage with black sesame). Both were pretty good sizes, I forgot to ask but I’m assuming they were both the large orders.
I had a small hot dog before the movie because I had skipped breakfast (no surprise there) and I wasn’t super hungry, so I just went for a small order of the Truffle Mac. The portion of parmesan-crusted chicken was about twice as big as I was expecting, which was nice of course. The mac & cheese was very rich and delicious. The baby portabella mushrooms were a great addition. The chicken was ok, it was a little dry and felt like it was probably prepped, frozen and shipped to the store. Flavor-wise it was decent, but I think if I’m in the mood for that I’d be better off getting the real deal at another restaurant. The chicken breast may be a better, juicier option here, and I’m sure that’s what I’ll try next time.
The Thai curry soup was very light, as least the noodles and other ingredients were. It was actually quite full of noodles despite the claim of a “light portion.” The broth was pretty tasty, and towards the end when I was finishing it off, the spice that they claim on the menu with the little pepper finally showed itself, only after consecutive sips without a drink. I have to admit I was hoping for something a bit richer, like the curry based soup I tried at Mongolian Bliss, but this was pretty good and I would have it again as an addition to my main dish.
I was pretty pleased with Noodles & Co in general. As I mentioned I think that the chicken breast might be a better option than the parmesan-crusted chicken. Amelia & Eric seemed happy overall, and Amelia even mentioned how she wished this type of restaurant where you build-your-own plate was more common downtown. I’m sure I’ll be back again to sample more of the menu soon.
Note: As of when I am posting this, the Google map location is off by a block or so. Noodles & Co is located in the fountains right next to California Pizza Kitchen. I submitted a correction, so hopefully it will be fixed.