BY SARAH GOETZE
“Throw a fork on the map and we’ll take you there,” Noodles and Company claims on their menu, but you know what? If I closed my eyes, I very well could have drifted off to Indonesia and pictured myself eating the Indonesian Peanut Sauté dish while riding atop an elephant. Okay, so maybe that’s a stretch, but it was pretty damn good.
Noodles and Co. is a restaurant that opened its doors in Shiloh, Illinois. Nestled in the Target area and next to Jersey Mike’s, Noodles and Co. was created with a modern and open layout. With floor to ceiling windows acting as the main walls, customers can enjoy a delicious dish in their choice of seating at a booth, table, outdoor or banquette seating in a welllit area. Noodles and Co., a new and healthier take on fast food, prides itself in serving organic milk, tofu and tea, cagefree eggs, naturally raised meat and 14 different fresh vegetables.
As soon as I entered, I was greeted warmly by a worker, asking if I have ever visited before. The young worker walked me through the menu and answered any questions I had; she was extremely knowledgeable about her job. She knew what items were offered and what tastes best when paired together. The main items on the menu are the different pasta dishes, which are customizable. For the most part, each one starts out as a vegetarian dish, allowing customers to add different proteins and vegetables for a small upcharge.
Ordering and paying takes place at a counter, where the warm welcomes are continued. For my two orders of pasta (one small and one large), a side salad and soup, plus two regular sized drinks, the bill was $20.88.
Once ordering is complete, you choose a seat, and the food is brought out. The service was fairly quick; from the time I ordered and paid to when my food was placed on the table, no more than 15 minutes passed.
I chose to order the Indonesian Peanut Sauté, a rice noodle dish covered in spicy peanut sauce. The sauce to noodle ratio was perfect, creating a balance between the two that allowed the noodles to stick together, giving it an authentic presentation. Garnishing the dish were crunchy vegetables, including broccoli, carrots, Napa, red cabbage, Asian sprouts and cilantro, creating a stirfry take. Ordering a drink was a necessity with this meal for me as it was very spicy.
As a side, I selected the Tomato Basil Bisque. This savory soup was rich both in its color and flavor. It had a zesty flavor, made with tomato soup, cream, sherry, fresh basil, garlic and parsley. There were small pieces of crisp tomatoes within the soup, giving each spoonful a crunchy texture hidden within the smoothness. The garlic was a tad overpowering in certain bites; However, overall it was a flavorful soup.
My date threw the fork on the map, and it landed in Wisconsin. This Wisconsin Mac & Cheese changes what Mac & Cheese is all about. Parents will be sneaking bites of their children’s food more often now with this delightful dish. Made with a blend of cheddar and jack cheeses, this creamy and cheesy elbow pasta was exploding with flavor. Every bite had a trail of cheese that followed the spoon from the bowl to his mouth. He chose to have steak added to this dish. The amount of steak in the dish was sparse, but the pieces in it were cooked to a welldone level. Even though the portion of steak added was sparse, it wouldn’t keep me from ordering this dish myself.
He ordered a Caesar side salad that was about as typical as any other Caesar salad you could order. With plenty of dressing, but skimpy on the croutons, the lettuce was crunchy and fresh.
Overall, Noodles and Co. is a new take on fast food. With quick and friendly service, yet modern and aesthetically pleasing layout, this affordable restaurant is great for a quick family meal or a college date.