We’ve been on a casual kick lately. We’ve been hitting up the fast casual dining establishments scattered throughout the Orlando metro area.
One that has been at the top of our must try list is Noodles and Company. The first Central Florida location opened at the Crossroads at Lake Buena Vista. The second just recently opened its doors in Dr. Phillips and the reviews have been mixed. We decided to venture down by Disney and try the LBV store.
The ordering system is similar to most fast casual restaurants- you walk up to the counter, place your order and the food is brought to your table. I went with my usual dining partner Chad, who is a big fan of all things hummus.
Noodles and Company offers a hummus plate in both a large and a small version. Though the picture on the menu shows the hummus is plated with pita chips, cucumbers and red peppers, our order was actually with broccoli in place of the peppers. Not a bad thing, thankfully we love broccoli but it would have been nice to have been told. Not everyone is a fan of the raw green stuff.
The hummus was tangy and creamy and we loved the fresh veggies.
The menu consists of a variety of noodle bowls, ranging from Pad Thai to the more simple Mac and Cheese. And, yes, gluten-free pasta can be substituted for a small $2 fee. There is also a small selection of sandwiches, salads and soups, though the menu is mostly based around the pasta bowls. Potstickers and Garlic Bread are also offered as shareable plates in addition to the Hummus.
Chad ordered the Pesto Cavatappi minus the mushrooms. All the pasta is made to order so omitting the mushrooms was an easy thing for the kitchen to accommodate. The basil pesto was mixed with curly pasta, garlic, tomatoes, wine, cream, parmesan and parsley. We both actually really liked it as the pesto wasn’t too overpowering and the pasta was cooked perfectly al dente style.
I went with the Bangkok Curry– rice noodles tossed with a coconut curry sauce, broccoli, carrots, red bell peppers, onions and mushrooms topped with black sesame seeds. I also added shrimp to my pasta bowl.
I really enjoyed it. It was light and sweet. To me there is nothing worse than pasta in a heavy cream sauce. This Bangkok Curry didn’t sit in my stomach like a rock. It was a perfect dish (I did get the regular size which is a very generous portion- a smaller version of the pastas is available).
What I liked best about my dish is that the plate wasn’t all pasta and it wasn’t all veggies. It was evenly half and half. I didn’t feel cheated with a bowl of all noodles.
The one thing that did bother me was the fact that I ordered shrimp to top my pasta. The menu on the sidewall as soon as we walked into the restaurant listed the price as $2.59 as did the collection of takeout menus by the door. When we got the receipt we were actually charged $3.34. I thought about maybe mentioning the overcharge to a manager but then I noticed the menu board over the counter had a red sticker next to the $2.59 add shrimp price that simply said “add $.75”. Kind of a bummer. The price needs to be changed everywhere. I feel as though Noodles and Company was being a little shady on that note.
Anyone who may regularly read The Hungry Sprout may know of a recent trip I had to another fast casual pasta restaurant where we were charged almost $4 for a side salad. I was so pleasantly pleased to find that Noodles and Company also offers side salads for only an additional dollar. And it wasn’t a tiny 3 bite salad, the salad was a pretty good size. We both had the Caesar though a side tossed green or a tomato cucumber salad are also offered. A side of soup is also $1 with an entrée purchase.
And for an extra dollar you can also add extra veggies. Other protein choices include pork, chicken, steak, meatballs or organic tofu, all offered for a small upcharge.
Overall, we really liked Noodles and Company. After seeing the restaurant many times throughout the Midwest I am happy we have one all to ourselves here in Central Florida. There is a great selection of many flavors of pasta, enough to most likely satisfy anyone’s tastes whether it be Asian, Indian or Italian. The service was great as well. It is obvious that the staff has been well trained as we were able to have all of our questions answered about the menu and our dietary restrictions.
I would probably award 5 sprouts here but I am not really happy having the wool pulled over my eyes with the shrimp upcharge, so a rating of 3 1/2 sprouts.