Review: Noodles & Company
Rating: Three forks out of four
Where: 3300 N. Rock Road, 316-630-8009
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Type of food: American, Asian and Mediterranean noodles, salads, sandwiches and soups
Alcohol: Beer and wine
Reservations: Not accepted
Web site: www.noodles.com
The restaurant name Noodles & Company suggests a lot of possibilities.
It could specialize in Italian pasta dishes. Or Asian-flavored noodle bowls. Or mac-and-cheesey comfort foods.
Wichita's new Noodles & Company, which opened in mid-December at 3300 N. Rock Road, specializes in all of the above.
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The fast-casual restaurant, part of a Colorado-based chain, offers noodle dishes, soups, salads and sandwiches representing a wide range of cuisine styles, from Asian to American to Mediterranean/Italian.
A second Noodles & Company is scheduled to open in Towne East Square (with an exterior entrance) in March.
ON THE MENU: Noodles & Company's menu is largely occupied by meals featuring noodles, from Japanese udon noodles to penne to stroganoff. Also available: soups and salads representing the various cuisine types and a list of sandwiches ranging from meatball to Wisconsin cheese steak to a veggie sandwich stuffed with mushrooms, spinach, red bell pepper, cucumber and red onions. The restaurant offers a variety of combo deals.
DON'T-MISS DISHES: On a recent cold day, we packed into Noodle & Company's bright dining room with many other comfort food seekers and took a tour through the menu.
We started in the Asian section, sampling the Bangkok curry dish, a sweet, soupy dish made with coconut curry, broccoli, carrots, red pepper, onion, mushrooms and rice noodles served on cabbage with black sesame. Noodle & Company's bowls came in two sizes — a regular for $5.25 or a small for $4.25. Diners have the option of adding chicken, beef, shrimp, meatballs or tofu to any dish for an extra $2.25.
The menu suggested shrimp with the Bangkok curry, and we accepted that suggestion. The dish was fresh and colorful, piled with lots of al dente vegetables. The only disappointment was the teeny-tiny-ness of the shrimp.
From the Mediterranean/Italian section of the menu, we chose the penne Rosa, made with a spicy tomato cream sauce, mushrooms, tomato, spinach, wine and choice of Parmesan or feta. We selected feta and also chose to add the excellent Parmesan crusted chicken to the dish. The dish was well balanced and only lightly coated in the cream sauce so it didn't feel too heavy. Nothing a few shakes of salt couldn't fix.
The mushroom stroganoff was dotted with chunks of tender beef and big mushrooms, and although it was good, it seemed a little ho-hum when compared to the other colorful dishes at the table.
We also sampled the mac and cheese, made with small elbows and topped with a big pile of unmelted shredded cheese that once stirred in made for a nice texture. We chose not to add the menu's suggested meatballs, which seemed like a strange combo to us. But when we saw a neighboring table enjoying the meatballed mac, we regretted that decision.
Two sandwiches also were good, especially the Wisconsin cheese steak, made with sauteed beef, grilled red onions, red bell peppers and mushrooms and topped with cheddar-jack and mac-and-cheese sauce on a ciabatta roll. It was a messy, good-to-the-last-bite decadence.
AMBIENCE: The dining room is fitted with wood tables and chairs and a few booths. It's full of natural light and modern, Asian-ish decor.
PRICE RANGE: Noodle bowls with meat are $7.50 for a regular (which isn't huge) or $6.50 for a small. Each is $2.25 cheaper without meat. A trio, featuring a small bowl with meat plus a side soup or salad, is $7.50. And a sandwich duo, which features a full-sized sandwich and a side soup or salad, ranges from $5.75 to $6.95.
Noodles & Company also serves beer and wine and sells family-style bowls that feed four for $18, $24 with meat.
SERVICE: Customers order at the counter and wait for their number to be called. Though it took a little while to get to the front of the line, our food was delivered quickly and everything was correct.