Tag Archive: Franklin Street

Noodles & Company

I am on a mission. I am an awestruck freshman and when I realized the richness and variety of restaurants on Franklin, I made it my goal to eat at every restaurant on Chapel Hill’s famous street before I graduate. Although I have plenty of time to accomplish this lofty (and expensive!) goal, I cannot possibly waste my precious money on silly chain restaurants I can find back home.

I assumed that Noodles & Company was, while certainly more gourmet-sounding than K&W Cafeteria, yet another one of those unremarkable buffet restaurants, until I actually gave it a try.

Noodles & Company, which opened at the beginning of this semester, is a cozy restaurant that can be discovered down the west end of Franklin. One peek into the homey-atmosphere of this small bistro is enough to make you want to curl up with some good old Chicken-Noodle Soup (which you can, in fact, do!).  The long, hanging lamps are bright and the tall wooden beams holding the roof give the allusion of a secret attic. However, what is more welcoming than the design of this restaurant is the hospitality of the staff.

Every staff member wore a colorful T-shirt with a different label across the back (my favorite read: “Noodle Ambassador”), and the girl who took my order offered up very helpful recommendations (you’re going to want the parmesan chicken).The menu is quite varied, you can choose a small or large pasta dish from three different ethnic categories; Asian, Mediterranean and American. Under each noodle dish is a description and coordinating protein recommendation (braised or sautéed beef, shrimp, chicken, parmesan crusted chicken or tofu). The menu also includes a variety of soups and salads from which to choose.

Three minutes after placing my order (no, they are not fast food, but yes they really are that fast), I ended up with the three most popular dishes from each category:

Japanese Pan Noodles—these udon noodles are served in soy sauce with broccoli, carrots and mushrooms, and topped with bean sprouts. Although the menu warned that these noodles were sweet, I wasn’t prepared for just how sweet they were. The noodles are rather thick and difficult to eat. The flavor, although at times overwhelming, is a great refresher.

Mediterranean Penne Rosa—possibly the most delicious noodle dish I’ve ever had! The tomatoes were very fresh, the spice just right, and the noodles al dente. This dish I ordered with the recommended parmesan-crusted chicken. The chicken was cooked just-right and had a delicious garlic taste to it.

American Wisconsin Mac & Cheese—this macaroni was topped with a divine cheese sauce and freshly shredded cheese that melts in your mouth. Eating it reminded me of the macaroni my grandmother cooks whenever I am home.

For the health conscious, Noodles & Company has committed to providing its customers with nutritional facts that can be found at the register. All customers are also given the liberty to order their pasta anyway they would like; with tomatoes, less spicy, extra cheese, two proteins—and still have it come out in less than three minutes. Take that, K&W.

By Shannon Spain

Restaurant Review: Sugarland Bakery and Dessert Cafe

Next stop, Sugarland.

The last two weeks before spring break is always blended with excitement, and then depression when students learn how much work is required before that last toll of the Bell Tower releases them. Balancing school, work and my visiting brother eager to bar hop during my mid-term week, was too much of a conglomeration of priorities. To say I was burned out and overwhelmed is a slap in the face of subtlety.

My brother is spending his spring break away from Burlington, Vermont, a place deprived of real hamburgers, and fixed with chicken byproducts mashed into a nugget formation. Sweets are decked in dark chocolate, sugarcoated with organic flour but lack the essence of satisfaction.

He escaped with a goal to enjoy North Carolina’s version of baked goods and winter temperatures. Early in the morning we set out on our adventure for good coffee and warm croissants.

Still being a newbie to the Franklin Street food venue, I had no idea where good coffee, not commercially grown or tasting of tar could reside. As the days reel by, I find myself craving a bit of chocolate; the bitterness of endless papers and taxing midterms boiling my brain into submission, eager to enjoy the taste of caffeine.

After walking a few feet on Franklin Street, my brother suggested several places before stopping at Sugarland, it seemed a quiet sample of European chic and Starbucks appeal, and we were hooked.

Walls decorated in robin’s egg blue and curtains draped in a subtle checkered pattern welcome guests to a cozy square of large, furnished mahogany tables and two glass boxes housing gelato on one side and cannolis, pastries and cakes in another.

The unsuspecting college student may not have time to process the depth to this place — the convenience of sugared treats wholloped in over-sized bowls, and coffee prepared in insulated containers enjoyed in round, large teacups.

The pastries are delicately flaked with crust, and the center oozes with apricot preserves. Hand-written menus scribbled in script stalk counter tops, and Splenda packets compete with sugar bowls for the interest of coffee-lovers.

Cream swirls in coffee, the cannolis are rich with cream — berry cream, and smothered with chocolate chips. The gelato melts before the container leaves the icebox and tiny baby spoons in electric yellow, peony pink and razzle blue frequent the sample section.

Martini glasses reign on shelves for decoration but are free of alcohol. The Sugarland coffee house blend is labeled as a mixture of beans from the African and Arabian regions—it is sweet with a hint of nutmeg. Beside it rests the decaf blend, warm and full to the brim, leaking, hoping to be noticed, but still the question lingers: what’s the point of decaf coffee?

We get a sample of each available sweet and take our seats, glancing out the window, happy for the unusual silence. Sugarland in time may snub the many commercially owned coffee cafes, and become a favorite among households. The slogan may be true, the South may rise again — but not until 10 a.m.

By Karen Kleimann

Plate by plate

This week at Lenoir, I have seen several different versions of Mexican cuisine served at the World Fare. While the meat morphed from greasy chicken to grainy ground beef, the same unappetizing black beans have been making a continual appearance for four straight days. Though the food may resemble the slop found in a pig trough at the State Fair, Lenoir is convenient and prepaid by our parents. We feel obligated to use up our meals and a parallel obligation to save what minimal pocket money we do have for Thirsty Thursday.

Places like Qdoba or Biski’s might be within your budget, but for those of us unwilling to part with $7, or maybe not even hungry enough for a full meal, there are few smaller items on the menu to fulfill our needs. So what can you do when you cannot stomach Barbeque Monday or Tuesday’s tequila lime shrimp wrap? Never fear Carolina students! Affordable and delicious alternatives to the daunting dining hall really do exist on Franklin Street.

Tucked behind Qdoba on Martin Luther King Blvd. is a great little place to get instant gratification for a cheap price. No, this is not a subsidiary University Massage, but a bustling sushi bar called Kurama. Though usually crowded around dinnertime, I recommend taking a seat in the central island which features a circular conveyor belt. From this vantage point, you are able to watch the sushi chef dice, chop, and roll popular specials at a frenzied pace to be placed on the belt for your convenience. You can simultaneously choose something for your palate and for your price range as the plates are color-coordinated according to cost. The pink dishes are $1, the yellow are $1.50, the pale blue are $2 and so forth and so on up to the $5 gold plate.

If you are a sushi connoisseur and prefer something above and beyond the pink-plated California roll, there are several more elaborate and pricy dishes listed on a board above the chef. The spider roll, consisting of tempura fried shrimp, spicy Japanese mayonnaise, and vegetables, is my personal favorite. Lava rolls, the UNC roll, and spicy crunchy crab are other popular dishes among veteran Kurama lovers.

For those of you who are wary of raw fish, I do not recommend this locale for your dining experience. There are soups and salads on the menu, but not enough to make a full meal out of. I also regret to inform you that the service can be quite slow once the meal is finished and you are waiting for your check. Be assertive and you should not have a problem but I do not recommend stopping by if you are on a tight schedule.

By Madeleine Clark