Thursday, March 13, 2014

Noodles & Company Food Review

Pork Adobo Flatbread

My most recent visit to Noodles & Company is a tale of two extremes... great food and indifferent service (with a ray of light in between.) For the record, Noodles & Company is one of the most underrated restaurant chains out there: I always leave satisfied, and you can't argue with the price (fantastic.) Catch 'em on a good day, and you'll sing their praises from the highest mountain. Find yourself on the wrong end of a bad order exchange and... Well, there's always the food.

I got a little of both the other night. It was very windy, and I was in the mood for a hot cup of soup; so I popped into their Woodley Park location, just before 7:30. I stood in front of the cash register for over four minutes before finally getting some sort of acknowledgment. A woman had her back to me the entire time, before a male associate appeared and took her place at the register. I said, "Hi, how are you?" No reply. Don't you just hate that? I placed an order for a Pork Adobo Flatbread (only $3.29) a BBQ Pork Sandwich with a Side Cup of Chicken Noodle Soup (both for $6.99) with a fountain drink for an additional $1.79. Grand total $13.28 (great deal!)

Chicken Noodle Soup

It was obvious that this guy didn't use the register often: Each part of the order seemed to confuse him; and he left me standing there after, without a cup for my soda. I had to call him back, so he could (reluctantly) hand me a cup. Stranger still, he didn't speak during the entire transaction (not a word.) So much for feeling welcome.

On a positive note, things got a lot better once I was finished at the register. The dining area is clean and spacious. I took a window seat by the front door, and waited for my food. I didn't have long to wait; before a super friendly employee (the aforementioned ray of light) delivered my food with a big smile: Why isn't she assigned to the register?

BBQ Pork Sandwich

Hungry and with a renewed confidence, I dove into an impressive assortment of food. Unfortunately, the flatbread was cold and underdone: The crust could have been much crispier, and the cheese was barely cooked at all. That said, the sauce had tons of zest (you definitely taste the adobo) and the relatively paltry amount of shredded pork was delicious. Four slices for under a buck a pop? Great price. Cook it longer, and toss in an extra shred or two... and we're talkin' a home run, instead of a long single.

My BBQ Pork Sandwich came with a side of cole slaw and a big cup of delicious chicken noodle soup. The slaw was nice & creamy, and despite the absence of carrots... quite tasty. The soup is worth coming back for alone: Great noodles, flavorful chicken and tons of carrots & celery make this one of the better soups in all of DC. Also, give N&C bonus points for providing two packs of Zesta saltine crackers.

Colorful Coleslaw (on side)

The sandwich was pretty good: Ciabatta bread was soft, and the meat-to-bread ratio plenty generous. The pork was moist & abundant; but the sauce needed more zip, and was pedestrian at best. I washed it all down with some Mello Yellow Orange Zero... Overall, a terrific dinner with a few service hiccups.

The foundation is clearly in place to become a great lunch spot, that doubles as a solid dinner option in a pinch. Turnaround for food is fast; and good music plays at a perfect decibel. Clean and affordable, with tasty food too... Noodles & Company is just a stone's throw (more consistent customer service) away from being added to our culinary rolodex.