Eat this now

by Kate Steadman

As a kid, I really hated cheese. Kraft Mac and Cheese was acceptable; Velveeta sent me running. Frankly, I was afraid of it. And Kraft singles seemed like the devil’s work.

Eventually I grew up and became braver; I forced myself to try things because darnit, I didn’t want to be a picky eater anymore. These days my childhood aversion results in eager sampling of homemade Mac and Cheese at restaurants around DC. Below, some recent tries:

  • Laughing Man Tavern: this new bar opened a couple doors down from my office (hallelujah!). It has a good beer selection, plenty of space and nice staff. Its macaroni and cheese, however, is teh suxx. Noodles are slathered in one of those velveeta-style sauces (the kind with an eerily smooth texture.) Also, it’s bright yellow.
  • Ben’s Next Door: the sit-down, alcohol-serving companion to Ben’s Chili Bowl. Great bar, huge space, average beer selection, wonderful mac and cheese. The sauce was full of flavor but not too heavy and topped with bread crumbs. The down-side? About a half cup serving that costs $8. I’m miffed about the price.
  • Chix: this mostly organic roasted chicken eatery is a couple blocks from my house. You can order a whole, half or quarter of a chicken in one of a few marinades. It’s decent but nothing to rave about. The sides are the stars. And you would be crazy to get anything other than the noodles and cheese. You get a slice (actually, you could order a whole pie if you wish) of chicken-soup style noodles baked with cream and a bit of parmesan, then topped with a perfectly browned layer of cheddar. See below:

    It’s earned the IFA deliciousness stamp of approval, and is recession-ready at $2.50 for a huge slice.

8 responses to “Eat this now

  1. Isn’t “homemade at restaurants” an oxymoron. Whatev. Check out M&C at Saint’s Paradise Cafeteria, a/k/a Daddy Grace’s, M St nr Convention Ctr. Soulful goodness, but like all steam table fare, subject to drying out.

  2. I wholeheartedly disagree on the Chix Mac and Cheese. I’ve tried it several times there and it has always been bland and soggy.

    Nellie’s used to have fried mac ‘n cheese but then changed chefs. Any ideas where to find that deliciousness?

  3. I have a 2 year old who loves cheese. Not the Mac and Cheese, string cheese, Kraft singles type, but the $15 per pound hard cheeses that you put out at a pretentious party type cheese. On one hand I’m proud and it warms my heart to see my kid eat aged Gouda or a tasty Manchego cheese slice. But on the other hand, he’s turning into an expensive little guy. Do I fund his college education or his cheese addiction? What do I do?

  4. you’re right, that was a bit of an oxymoron. I guess more I meant “not from a box mac and cheese.”

  5. Don’t want to sound ‘pretentious’, but the macaroni and cheese at Central is amazing, a big portion and a good buy-maybe $7; also there is a dish at Bistrot du Coin that is a ‘ravioli aveyronnaise’ (I’m not sure what that means) that is front-loaded with cheese $8.95. Stay away from the M&C at Kramerbooks-but you already knew that…

  6. …also any of the other noodle/pasta with cheese dishes at BduC-they really slather it on…

  7. Two other restaurants that serve up some really good Mac n Cheese are Dogwood Tavern (Falls Church, VA) and Tap & Vine (Arlington, VA).

    Dogwood Tavern is a great bland of cheese and ham, which is then baked! Ummm.

    Tap & Vine offers Creamy Mac n Cheese in which the diner chooses two ingredients to be added (bacon, ham, chicken, brocolli, mushrooms, tomatoes & roasted red peppers).

  8. As a resident of Wisconsin, I might be overly defensive of cheese. However, I don’t think it’s correct to include Kraft Mac and Cheese and Velveeta as two examples of why you don’t like cheese because neither of these are, in fact, cheese. Velveeta cannot even legally be called “cheese” because of all of the additives and processing.

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