In early February, I was invited to try the new mac and cheese options at Noodles & Company. I said yes because 1. I have no aversion to chain restaurants beyond when they let success get in the way of creating delicious food and 2. I’d never tried their mac and cheese before. I have this compulsion to try everything once, and who was I to say no to adding something as tempting as a restaurant’s signature mac and cheese to my list?
You should know two things before reading my thoughts on Noodles & Company’s versions of this American staple. First, I’d been to Noodles & Company twice before and was pleased, if unenthused, about the Asian noodles and salad dishes I’d had. Both were good, but they lacked any particular flair that would bring me back in for more. Second, I’m over the gourmet mac and cheese phase. I’ve yet to find a truffle oil or lobster version that makes me happier than a simple bowl of creamy, cheddar-swimming noodles. Thus, I may have been a bit of a tough customer, so to speak — it’s hard to call myself a customer when all the food was free — before stepping into the Brier Creek location.
Brian Rosenfeld, their friendly manager, greeted me and asked me to take a seat. I helped myself to a remarkably good glass of iced black tea for a chain restaurant and waited for the food to arrive. First, I tried their chicken potstickers, an order of 6.
These surprised me a lot. The dipping sauce was especially memorable with a great kick from red chili flakes, but the filling also impressed. It was very fresh and unique for potstickers. The chicken was finely ground and mixed together with carrots and a mixture of herbs — I think I could pick out oregano. It had a great distribution of filling to shell, and each bite went from sweet to fiery.by