Noodles and Company Comes to State College
I love noodles. I could eat them for every meal, every day, and every month of the year. (In my ideal world I would—I might weigh 200 pounds heavier but I would be 200% happier). If this is familiar to you in any way, then the opening of Noodles and Company downtown will make you jump for joy as you get your fat pants out of the closet.
Noodles are the ultimate comfort food, which is why practically every cuisine from around the world has their own version of a pasta dish. Noodles and Company explores this idea by offering noodles form three unique regions: Asia, North America, and the Mediterranean. Along with their abundance of noodle-themed options, Noodles also offers a variety of other plates including sandwiches and salads (although why anyone would go to a Noodles and Company and order a salad is beyond my comprehension).
Instead of being anti-social as per usual and stuffing my face in contemplated silence, I invited several amiable Onward State staff members to make the experience a bit more enjoyable. My dining partners consisted of Katie Blitz, Meghin Moore, Amanda McLaughlin, and Mara Kern. Our compiled reactions are below.
Pesto Cavatappi: This dish looked and sounded delicious. The curly pasta was covered in basil pesto, which was not over the top and had plenty of flavor. There were tomatoes and mushrooms in the pasta that were pretty good, but the pasta was definitely the best part.
The parmesan on top of the dish really added to its flavor and dynamic taste. Many of us shared this dish, and everyone seemed to like it. Even once it has cooled off, it is still really tasty, and seemed like a good meal for leftovers if you can’t finish. If you are not the most adventurous eater, then this is definitely a dish that you should get. It’s very simple, but done well.
Spinach and Fresh Fruit Salad (yes Meghin ordered a salad): This was my first time eating at Noodles and Co. I’d seen them all over the place when I’m at home in Virginia, but I had never eaten at one.
I wanted something healthy for a change, so I opted for a salad. I got the spinach and fresh fruit salad, which had spinach, strawberries, crumbled bacon pieces, homemade croutons, balsamic fig vinaigrette, onions and feta cheese. I also got some ciabatta bread as a side.
When it arrived, I was a bit disappointed to see that there was feta on it, because I asked them not to put it on. I’m a super picky eater, and normally I don’t like cheese. I sucked it up, picked off as much of the feta as I could, and ate my salad. I didn’t ask for a new one because there was a super long line by the time I got it. Other than that, it was delicious (even with the cheese)! I absolutely loved it.
The strawberries were juicy, and blended well with the rest of the salad. Everything was really fresh tasting, which made me happy. The croutons however, were kind of stale, and I didn’t like them. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed the salad. I also enjoyed my side of ciabatta bread, which was warm, and it complemented the salad well.
Whole Grain Tuscan Linguine: This flavorful pasta dish sure did it for me after walking about 20 minutes down College Ave with a grumbling stomach and a big appetite. The whole grain linguine is lightly coated in a white wine-garlicky-cream sauce ensuring a scrumptious taste. Adding a hint of zest to the bowl, the pasta is served with chopped red peppers/onions, steamed broccoli, and sliced mushrooms.
Last but not least, the delectable noodles are sprinkled with a fine layer of shredded Parmesan cheese (what’s pasta without the cheese?). For an extra $2.59, you can add parmesan-crusted chicken breast to the entrée. Also, about 75% of the time whole grain linguine tastes like cardboard to me, but I finished every last bite of these noodles. I’d recommend this plate to anyone who craves a yummy Italian pasta dish, while trying to stay on the more healthy side of the Noodles and Company menu.
Bangkok Curry: I walked into Noodles & Company having no idea what to expect. The environment of the restaurant pleasantly surprised me, especially because I’m typically not a fan of “fast casual” restaurants, but Noodles & Company had something unique I couldn’t place my finger on.
I ordered the Bangkok Curry with shrimp, which is described as “Sweet coconut curry, with broccoli, carrots, red pepper, onion, mushrooms, a light portion of rice noodles, served on cabbage with black sesame.”
I can’t say that I was greatly impressed. I not only had a tail left on one of my shrimps, but also had a clump of rice noodles. Those little things really affected my overall view of the meal. I didn’t hate the meal by any means, but if I go back to noodles and company I don’t think that this would be my first choice. I snuck a bit of Meghin’s Spinach and Fresh Fruit Salad and I would have to say that would definitely be my go-to dish next time.
Japanese Pan Noodles: Being an Asian food lover I had to try Noodles and Company’s Japanese inspired dish. The Pan Noodles come with udon noodles, broccoli, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and sprouts.
The noodles were soft and fluffy, and had a toasty flavor after being caramelized in a sweet soy sauce. All of the ingredients melded together perfectly, and embodied a true stir-fry feel. The black sesame seeds and cilantro on top were unique additions that added an interesting texture to the dish overall.
I decided to add shrimp to my noodles and I was glad I did, they were cooked perfectly and went extremely well with the sauce. I am also very happy to note that Sriracha was available upon request. In general I was pleasantly surprised with the complexity of my meal, and I would definitely order the Japanese Pan Noodles again!
As you can, see we all had a great experience with just a few hiccups. We felt that the lay out was a bit strange — you order your food first, then sit down while the waitresses try to find you in the sea of other customers. The line was also pretty long, which made it a bit hard to coordinate eating downtown in between classes.
Our favorite part of our Noodles and Company experience, with a unanimous vote, is the touch screen Coke machine. With this particular Coke dispenser you can get fun soda flavors like vanilla Coke and peach Sprite. Thankfully there are two machines, because when you come to eat at Noodles there will be a line of students debating each and every flavor option. Coming in close as our second favorite was, of course, the noodles.
Noodles and Company is located on 244 West College Avenue. They are open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and are open until 10 p.m. on the weekends. For more information (and food-porn pictures) visit their website.