Thursday, March 20, 2014

Noodles & Company Food Review II

The Med Sandwich

Noodles & Company recently opened their fourth location in Washington, DC (in addition to 58 restaurants in Maryland & Virginia) and I've been chomping at the bit to try it. As of yesterday, that wait is finally over; and I'm happy to report that all is well fantastic at 1140 19th Street, NW.

The newest N&C is a three-level wonder with one noticeable difference... absolute superior customer service. This begins and ends with store manager Troy, the food service equivalent of Albert Schweitzer. I've had my fair share of great customer service, but few match Troy's enthusiasm and professionalism (at the fast casual level, no less.) I stopped by for a late lunch (2:30 PM) and was lucky to find Troy at the register.

Troy asked if I'd been here before; and I explained this was my first time at this location. This answer opened the gates of hospitality, as Troy took me through a beginners course in Noodles & Company: You get the impression that you haven't really been to N&C until Troy takes ya. Try finding that level of pride at McDonald's or Quiznos.

Table Tracker

I placed an ambitious order, with the hopes of trying as many different items as possible. This meant a 3-Pc starter of Potstickers (Chicken Dumplings) for $2.99, a bowl of Spaghetti & Meatballs, and The Med sandwich with a side of Tomato Basil Bisque soup (only $6.99!) Troy also talked me into dessert... a chocolate chip cookie, by promising to warm it up in the oven. Where am I, Grandma's? Sold! After that, I was given a pager with a twist... It's not the kind that beeps, when your order is ready (I kinda hate those) but rather a way for N&C employees to trace your table/whereabouts. Finally, Big Brother is using technology to help us. It comes from Check 'em out.


I filled my soda (Fanta Orange Zero) at one of two Coca Cola Freestyle dispensers on the main level, and took a seat downstairs (by far, the roomiest area.) It didn't take long to receive my Potstickers and soup (delivered straight to my table) and my joy continued. I'm a big fan of Noodles & Company (food, value and now service) and the food is almost always fresh and tasty. Take my potstickers, which were generously sized (you can also get six for $4.99) and come with a magnificent sweet & spicy sauce. Better still, an order of three delivers just 170 calories.

Tomato Basil Bisque

N&C's side of soup is just the right amount with a sandwich, and comes with one pack of fresh Zesta saltine crackers. Noodles & Company knows a thing or two about soup (their Chicken Noodle is even better) and I practically slurped the Tomato Basil Bisque down. Let's just say, I can't wait to try their Thai Curry Soup.

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Next up, a big bowl of Spaghetti & Meatballs... unfortunately my least favorite part of the meal. N&C has a dozen pasta options, but Spaghetti & Meatballs is best left for the kids or the less adventurous. There's hardly any spice or zest to the sauce, and the meatballs (prepared daily, exclusively for N&C) are rather lackluster. I thought they were frozen (they're not... N&C doesn't even have freezers) but they still taste like they are. Try Penne Rosa or Whole Grain Tuscan Linguine instead.

It's not often that I don't finish a plate at N&C; but it worked out to my advantage... It provided more room for their delicious Med sandwich (Chicken, spinach, red bell pepper, cucumber, red onion, N&C's zippy Med dressing, cilantro and feta on flatbread.) That's a lot of ingredients (remember, I ditched the mushrooms earlier) but they work in perfect harmony with N&C's delicious pita/flatbread. It came with a dipping sauce, but I draw the line at sandwiches (unless it's a French Dip.)

Chocolate Chip Cookie

Towards the end of my mid-afternoon feast, Troy reappeared to personally present me with my cookie... warmed, as promised. I asked if this extra touch was on the menu, and he just smiled and said customers love it. Something tells me, Troy does it for all his favorite customers... in other words, everyone. I've been to half a dozen N&Cs, and they're all nice; but 19th & L breaks the mold... Spotlessly clean (even the individual bathrooms smell good) with free Wi-Fi (no password necessary) and unrivaled customer service. No wonder there's a line out the door every time I pass by. The 19th & L Street location is open 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM daily (10:00 PM on Friday & Saturday.) If you need more information, call them directly at (202) 785-8823. Ask for Troy.