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Noodles and Company?

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One of these is opening in our town in a couple of weeks. The menu posted on their website has many yummy-sounding dishes, and their nutritional profiles are generally excellent. Have any of you actually eaten there, though? I'd be interested to know if you think it's worth a visit.

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  1. I have given Noddles many tries because of the raves it has gotten from some of my coworkers. But I am sorry to tell you, every single time I eat there I want to bang my head on the table. The food is downright awful, especially for the ridiculous cost.

    1. Their Thai Curry soup is pretty good. I thought their noodle dishes were pretty bad however. And it is kinda expensive for what you actually get.

      1. If you're hungry and around one, it's not bad. But it's not particularly good either, and as another poster mentioned, it's not particularly cheap. I go occasionally for lunch when there are no better options, I usually have the pad thai and add tofu. It doesn't taste like pad thai, but it's not bad and it's (a little) more healthy than a 1200 calorie burrito from the Chipotle next door to it.

        1. I haven't been there in several months so I don't know if it's gone up, but their Trio (entree w/meat plus a salad) used to be $6.95 which I thought was pretty good, comparable to a combo fast food meal. I liked the Japanese pan noodles and the curry noodle soup, and my kids love the mac & cheese. It's a good family place because of the counter service, fill-it-yourself drinks and no tipping.

          1. I really want to like this place; it’s the kind of chow I crave a lot.... But I haven’t had very good luck there. Every time I’ve tried it, the noodles have been overcooked and gummy. The kind of thing where you put the fork in and all the food comes up in on clump. To be fair, I’ve always gotten it to go, and while it’s only about 5 or 10 minutes away, maybe it’s better if you eat in.

            Of course, it’s always busy so maybe they’re better then I think. It could just be that I’ve had bad luck.....

            Uncle Ira

            1. I've had the same experience of others. I want to like it so much, especially since it's either that or Chipotle for quick food near my office. Unfortunately, I'm always disappointed. Their dishes are not anywhere near as flavorful as if you had gotten them at a Thai, Japanese, etc. restaurant.

              Also, the nutritional info is confusing. A few weeks ago, again hoping for something great, I got the Bangkok curry noodle thing with tofu. I went to their website to look up the nutritional info and it said it had 400 something calories for 1 serving, then there was a note about how their servings are 2+ times the FDA serving size. So, was what I ordered 400 or 800+ calories? I hopefully decided 400, but then they list low calorie options on their site (those under 500), and the dish I ordered wasn't on there.

              *If someone knows the answer about the calories, please share. I work with dietitians and they were confused.

              4 Replies
              1. re: katebauer

                Katebauer,
                I learned in Weight Watchers to always check the size and number of portions.
                The FDA portion sizes are very modest. In fact, I just learned last week that a banana counts as 2 portions of fruit!! I think you ordered 800 calories worth of curry.

                That said, I was disappointed at the lack of bright flavor when we ate at a Noodles in Milwaukee a few years ago. However, it worked well for our party of 4 adults and 4 adolescents for the reasons stated above.
                p.j.

                1. re: p.j.

                  Yup, I was checking the calories so I could calculate the WW points.

                  If it was 800, they're being deceptive. I'm an extremely well educated person who regularly reads labels and could not figure this one out. I just checked again and they say serving size = 1 dish, servings per container =1, but then that stuff about being 2x the FDA servings. I really believe most people would say, "oh, they've giving the nutritional information for 1 dish, saying there's 1 serving per dish, so I must have eaten 400 calories." Perhaps my downfall is that I have no idea the weight of my serving, if it was 422 grams then I'd know for sure.

                  1. re: katebauer

                    Kate,
                    Perhaps you could get an intelligent response to an e-mail to the corporation. I often do, but sometimes a get a PR response that avoids the question.
                    p.j.

                2. re: katebauer

                  The mention of 2x the FDA serving size means that their serving size would be twice that of the FDA serving size. This means that the dish is as many calories as it says it is, it's just that the FDA serving sizes would be smaller than the whole dish.

                3. I like the place. I've only sampled the Pad Thai and Japanese noodles. They get a vote from me simply because they offer tofu in addition to chicken and other meats.

                  I'd rather have these dishes in an ethnic restaurant but it's a good place to take a group of people with disparate tastes, since they offer mac and cheese, stroganoff, asian dishes, etc.

                  1. They have a fairly ambitious menu (which they have recently cut in half) carried out by a generally inexperienced staff. The local version was great when it opened but has gotten progressively worse with each visit.

                    Great concept, poor performance.

                    1. My husband and I had lunch there for the first time yesterday. It was pretty good. I had the Bombay Curry -- lots of fresh veggies nicely cooked, but a bit sweet for my taste. (I'm pretty sure the dish came in closer to 400 than 800 calories.) My husband had the Japanese Pan Noodle and was quite happy. The venue is well-designed, bright, and with an energetic feel. I suspect it will be a big hit with the college crowd. (It's about half a block from the main entrance to campus.) I did notice, however, that there wasn't an Asian in sight -- bad news, IMO, for a restaurant with the word "Noodles" in its name!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: pikawicca

                        Just curious, what do you mean that you think it came in closer to 400 than 800 calories? Do they advertise it as 800? If so, what makes you think it's actually so much less??

                        1. re: charmedgirl

                          They advertise the curry as being around 400. Previous posters had questioned that. Being that the dish is mostly vegetable, with few noodles, I believe the lower figure to be the accurate one.

                          1. re: pikawicca

                            You're right... since the Bangkok Curry is full of fresh veggies, the dish is pretty low in calories. So, Noodles & Company's entire bowl of Bangkok Curry, regular size, is about 400 calories. The small is half the size, thus half the calories. In the spirit of full disclosure, I was the director of PR for Noodles & Company for about 7 years and do still consult for the company....

                            1. re: kellypg

                              Wow, I've ordered the small Bangkok curry and I'm in shock that it would only have 200 calories. It might be mostly veggies and noodles but coconut milk is highly caloric.

                              kellypg - Noodles & Company's nutritional info on their website has been bugging me for months (see previous posts). It's incredibly unclear and even coworkers who are registered dietitians couldn't figure out the whole serving size is 2x FDAs serving size explanation. I'm going to email the company right now but if you do still work for them, I would encourage you to help them fix their website. If their regular size dishes are really only 400 calories I know many more people who would eat there. Also, why is there a low calorie menu, which supposedly lists everything under 500 calories, but the large majority of their dishes are NOT listed here? This leaves me to assume they are over 500 calories.

                              1. re: katebauer

                                Well, this thread just popped back up so I went to their website and although I never saw it during the time frame everyone is referencing it appears to be quite clear for the nutritional profiles so it looks like they made some changes.

                      2. I was a long time hater of Noodles after numerous dissapointing visits but after a few menu changes, I was dragged to one against my will.

                        Ordered the Penne Rosa w/ feta and it was great.

                        I don't like admitting Im wrong so its rare for me to 180 so much especially in a single visit.

                        1. I've generally been satisfied with my trips to the Madison locations. Some of the dishes are pretty eh, but the Japanese Pan Noodles and the Thai dish are generally pretty good. I've noticed that the beef (if you choose to add it) hasn't been as good lately, though. It's worth going to but not necessarily worth going out of your way for.

                          1. My kids love Noodles & Co. I think that their price matches their quality--i.e., mid-end fast food. On the plus side, they serve noodle dishes from around the globe and most dishes include lots of fresh veggies. On the minus side, it's an awful lot of starch to eat in one sitting and their menu doesn't change very often. I usually get a noodle dish plus the chinese chop salad, eat half of each and then save the other halves for another meal.

                            1. I usually order the pad thai. Used to order the thai caesar salad, but I think it's gone.
                              DH likes the mac and cheese or beef stroganoff.

                              This being said, not a healthy place to go. Don't go there for healthy items - it's kind of a joke.

                              On a bizarre note, Noodles & Co. has GREAT takeout containers that I reuse over and over again.

                              1. I LOVE Noddles and Company!! I'd kill for the Pesto! YUUUMMM YUUUMMM!

                                1. I am a big fan of Noodles & Co for a quick bite on the run. My faves are the Thai Curry Soup and the Med Salad. My preschooler always has a lunch of a grilled chicken breast, broccoli and a cup of parmesan cheese. That's as healthful as you'll find anywhere and that alone is worth repeat visits from us.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: jaschultze

                                    One more thing: There are two in my town and the quality varies wildly, despite having the exact same menu. In fact, one I will go to anytime and I have completely stopped going to the other. I think with this particiular chain, a lot depends on your location.

                                    1. re: jaschultze

                                      Wow, that's interesting because I've found them all to be pretty standard around here. However, I am just down the road from the home office in Boulder so maybe they know the big guys can walk in easily at any moment?

                                      1. re: RobynS

                                        I think the food is basically the same, but one location is always neat and clean with nice staff and the other is messy and less well-cared for. I also think the messy location sometimes skimps on the portions.

                                  2. As long as you don't go in with great expectations of a gourmet meal, I imagine you'll be pleased with at least one of their options. While I agree the noodles are sometimes overcooked, the bottom line is that it is cheap and fast. Considering how easy it is to make noodles for yourself at home, this should be seen as a restaurant of convenience.

                                    I like the indonesian peanut saute, the japanese pan noodles and the mac and cheese. All for under $8, it is a another cheap alternative quick service lunch spot in the vein of Au Bon Pain, Chipotle, etc. It definitely warrants a try.

                                    1. I am so inconsistent about Noodles and Company. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it. I have found that across the chains foods have been inconsistent. My favorite menu items though are the Penne Rosa and Thai Curry soup! Delicious.

                                      Hillary
                                      http://chewonthatblog.com

                                      1. You all are making me nostalgic for Noodles... I ate there at least once a week when I was a poor grad student at Madison, and I loved it. It's definitely not gourmet, but it has great vegetarian options, and I'd choose it over Panera, etc. anyday. I hope they're expanding to the East Coast!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: frogophobic

                                          They're in Maryland on the east coast.

                                        2. Sounding yummy is easy. Tasting yummy is harder. We go to Noodles and Co once every year or so.

                                          The experience is always the same, regardless of the dish. The first few bites are good, then the sameness, sweetness, oiliness, boringness kicks in. It ends up being hard to finish an entire bowl. It's food for young children or poor college kids.

                                          But since it's cheap and won't kill you, I would suggest that people give it a try since, as we all know, YMMV. Just lower expectations from what you read on the website,

                                          1. I really like Noodles & Co., as a fast food alternative. There a choices to allow you to customize your order, and they have organic tofu. When I eat fast food, I try to find a way to maximize the vegetables or fruit. At Noodles, if I am eating lunch, I like the Chinese Chop Salad with a piece of flatbread. A good variety of vegetables, and very filling. But I have to pull out the carrots. I wish they wouldn't use those bleached, already-prepared carrots. I keep forgetting to say "hold the carrots."

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: consaacs

                                              I like Noodles & Co., too. For a tasty and seriously low-calorie option, try their chicken soup. Also if you register online with them they'll send you a coupon for a free entree on your birthday :)

                                            2. I love noodles and company. If I don't feel like making pasta sauce myself, they provide a good fix. I like their pesto cavatappi, Japanese pan noodles and Penne Rosa. Yum!