Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bob Monkey's Noodle Zoo

Restaurant: Bob Monkey's Noodle Zoo
Address: 4950 Dodge St.
Genres: Deli, Cafe, Pasta
Check Constraints: Short Order
Chain: Regional. | More Omaha Locations: No.

  • New Orleans Muffaletta ($8.50)
    • Cup of Baked Potato Soup
  • Diet Dr. Pepper (can) ($1.00)
  • Lemon Bar ($2.00)
Bob Monkey's Noodle Zoo is tucked away on a side street just to the east of the Dundee Theater, so it can be a little hard to find. Since most of us are fans of noodles, we decided it was worth checking out. Unfortunately it turns out that the name "Noodle Zoo" is a bit of a misnomer - it would be rather like calling the Omaha Zoo "Gorilla Zoo" because there happen to be gorillas there. The predominate part of the menu was taken up by sandwiches. This is not a horrible thing, but I wanted to address the fact that we all felt this was false advertising of a sort.

The sandwich itself was delicious. Good cuts of meat on foccacia (not strictly the muffaletta bread required for the sandwich, but an acceptable alternative), with a delicious olive salad on the bottom. The foccacia, I might add, was garlic foccacia, which had been toasted with parmesan and garlic butter on it. That lent a fairly strong injection of flavor into an already strongly-flavored sandwich - if it had been anything more subtle it would have been completely overwhelmed, but as it was, it was well matched. The baked potato soup, on the other hand, was a one- or two-note concoction which was solid but not, perhaps, worth a bowl.

The lemon bar was not on the menu proper, but in a basket next to the cashier. I can only hope these are made in someone's kitchen and sold to Noodle Zoo for resale, but even if they're not, they were pretty good and were likely made on-site, or at least somewhere regional. It had a firm lemon flavor and a crumbly crust - the only thing that could have made it better was a slightly thicker dusting of powdered sugar.

The only downside to Noodle Zoo was the cost, which I felt was fairly high for the amount of food I got. Still, it's not out of the viable range for "bistro sandwiches", so if you're prepared to pay that sort of money you could spend it a lot worse places than here.

  • Noodles Alfredo ($7.50)
    • Cup of Baked Potato Soup
  • Buttered Noodles ($6.00)
  • Bottle of Darjeeling Tea ($3.50)
  • Bread Pudding ($3.50)
Moogle and I got lost on the way, which was annoying. The place is set back, and the sign doesn't stick out at ALL, so it's really hard to find if you don't know exactly where you're looking.

Okay, right up front, I was planning on going with the herbed chicken and white sauce, but when I got there and saw my two favorite forms of noodles on the chalk board, I switched. I was wrong to do so. The alfredo wasn't terrible, but it needed parmesan badly. Luckily, the buttered noodles came with a plastic shot glass of parmesan, half of which went towards making the alfredo decent. Not only were said buttered noodles not what I was hoping for (something like the lovely herb mixture that Noodles & Company uses), they were nothing but buttered, and there was nothing but salt, pepper, and parmesan to put on them. Certainly not worth the six dollars I paid for them, even if it was a "full" order. The order taker seemed confused that I wanted to order a side of noodles without the soup/salad on the side, and had to subtract them manually.

On the other hand... I would come here just to order the bread pudding. Cham had a bite and said that there must be like four sticks of butter in there. Then he had another bite. It's a pretty big lump of bread pudding, with raisins in, with hand-whipped sweet cream on the side, and it's really to die of. I'd go here again, I think, but I'd be much more careful of my noodle selections.

  • Thai Chicken Wrap ($8.50?)
    • Cup of soup
  • Bottle of Ginger Peach Tea ($3.50)
Okay, so. Everything I got is not actually on their menu, which makes it a little problematic since I'm doing this so late after the fact. And Cham and I drove past the place too, first shot, so really, it's just a little hard to find. Also, the picture on the website of the internals is the Omaha location (or all of them are the same!)

I liked the wrap a lot, but it wasn't particularly unique to the place in my recollection. It wasn't ice-cold like, say, Paradise keeps theirs, and it had a bit more spice to it. The smallness of it really surprised me, too, I was expecting something a little larger on my plate (they actually use really big plates, that might not help them.) I remember the soup being decent, but except for being meat-based and chunky, I can't remember the exact contents. The dangers of being distracted for long periods of time. The tea was bottled from the Republic of Tea, so you know pretty much what you're getting there if you're familiar with their tea.

I don't really remember anything to recommend this place significantly. I have the same rough price concerns as Cham too: I enjoy a sandwich from Gandolfo's about as much as I'd enjoy this one, and there's much more to it. It's not bad, just not anything amazing, and a bit expensive for it. I get a feeling of inconsistency comparing our results, so maybe you just have to search for what works.

  • Italian Beef Sandwich ($8.50?)
    • Salad
  • Bottle of Blackberry Sage Tea ($3.50)
The sandwich I had was named "Italian beef". I barely remember what was on it at this point, but it probably won't be what you expect from a typical Italian beef sandwich. It was beef and veggies on a fairly large wedge of focaccia. The sandwich was pretty good. It went well on the focaccia bread. I do think the large plates throw off perceptions slightly. What I had was fairly filling. It did feel a bit pricey, but it also felt like a bit fancier fare. The salad was interesting. I think it was their house salad. It was like a caesar salad, but more peppery and had a few noodles thrown in. The tea was fairly unremarkable, except for the types of flavors offered. This one wasn't very strong, but it had an interesting flavor.