When you have food preferences, or necessary dietary modifications, you get used to not eating out. While it is getting easier and easier as more and more restaurants are picking up on the need, I hate to say it, but you get a bit "judging a book by it's cover" just to avoid another disappointing "salad only" option. This is precisely the reason I have never been inside Noodles and Co. in St. Cloud, even though it's been here a number of years.
A large part of my personal healing way back when, involved consumption of NO grain.s Gluten free was barely heard of much less NO grains at all! Going to a restaurant with the name "Noodles and Co." wasn't going to sound like a real option for me. I guess the idea just stuck, because I haven't been in since.
When we were discussing whether to go to one of our favorites downtown, Quarks, or where to do the next review, I said, "It's no fun to do reviews where you know there's not going to be a lot of options, it just feels mean." I mean, I figured Noodles and Co. had probably by now chosen a gluten free noodle option,but I thought it was going to be of the "throw this version in because we have to" variety and as they're bread and butter is NOODLES, after all, I really did not think they were going to care about gluten friendly dieting, much less health and balance in a meal. But it was raining so we stepped inside Noodles and Co. while we were deciding. Surprise, Surprise and shame on me!
Right as you step in there's a large menu on the board, which was great, because we could check it out and then "sneak" out if there wasn't anything available. Much better than already being seated and then have to say, "Um, I'm sorry, we're going to have to eat elsewhere."
Not only was the menu very apparent that there were going to be options, but there were SPECIFIC meals, chef quality, with the gluten intolerant in mind. No boring salad this time! Of course they had salads, which sounded delicious, and soup options. With any of the original recipes, gluten free noodles can be substituted, and if you don't want to do any of that, you can order the ones already made up. Huge thumbs up!
Our server was great, and he let me know when I asked if the allergy diet mod was a big deal for them to which he replied, "HUGE! It's a big need. We get at least 30-40 orders a day specific to allergies."
For the vegetarian, there are definitely options and as they make each dish as it is ordered, it is easy to customize it to any need. One can see just by the signage the values of food service at this restaurant. With words like organic, no microwave, no preservatives, you know they are taking healthy eating into consideration from every angle.
The best part is that you can eat right alongside your "normal" eating friends and no one will know the difference because EVERY dish is custom made. By the way, I would suggest the Pasta Fresca(sub with GF pasta), Pad Thai, or Thai Green Curry. If you eat meat, try the Thai Chicken (GF) soup.
Sure it all sounds good, but sometimes when you have these select your own combos, and then they add their own proprietary sauces, one has to be cautious as it feels like the other shoe just fell, as you have no idea what's hiding in these. Yet when they advertise that the sauces are not made from a packet or can, you can be sure there are not going to be hidden preservatives that can really be a problem for allergy sensitive people. They also advertise no artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colors, flavors, etc.
Big bonus, the kids meals have healthy options and come in what Dash called a "happy meal tray". And happy he was at getting to eat like a typical diner and being excited about his options!
Once he made up his mind which sides he wanted, he played "Lorax and Once-ler" with Daddy while we waited to order (the bench rests looked like the slats in the windows of the Once-ler house). Seemed like a good time was had all around!
The checkout process makes sure of the safety for any severe allergies with an "allergy alert" notice attached to your order. While I no longer need this severe allergy indicator, I said yes, just to see what that entailed. Since my meal had this alert, the gentleman preparing mine stopped and asked me a question about one of the ingredients in my meal and then made suggestions for substitutions. Big thumbs up!
I feel confident any dietary sensitive person, or simply because you are particular about your healthy meal can feel safe and enjoy their time at Noodles and Co, and with your chosen preferences.
Way to go, Noodles and Co. Now THIS is how you do it!
DrFoodie reviews dining establishments all around the nation with the intention being to help those restricted by current illnesses or intolerances find safe places to eat, to find the positive changes restaurants are making towards healthy modifications as well as allergen modifications, and to help lunch programs and restauranteurs adapt to health and dietary trends. It is not to place judgement, nor to put down an establishment, I merely present the options. We solely look for the positives, and all the ways a person can make use of the dining experience anywhere they go. If you would like to suggest a restaurant for review, or own a restaurant you would like reviewed, or would like a consultation to improve your menu, your safety standards, or with dining adaptations, please email us at email@example.com.
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