Ah, mac and cheese. What could be bad about a bowlful of pasta with cheese and other delicious tidbits? This dish is a perfect example of how American cuisine has formed: a dish was brought in by one country, and left looking like an entirely different dish. Refugees of the French Revolution introduced macaroni and cheese as French food, but it was quickly adopted by the South and turned into a true comfort food dish, richly packed with more cheese and cream than the original recipe. If slapping some extra cheese on a dish doesn’t equal American food, I don’t know what does (HELLO, cheese-stuffed crust pizza, I’m looking at you).
And we Americans do love our cheese with pasta. Whenever I leave my husband for a few days, I can rest assured he will eat at least one thing: mac and cheese. Boxed mac and cheese to be specific, the same kind he grew up eating with the neon orange cheese powder. So when Homeroom, a mac and cheese restaurant popped up in Oakland, we were on that shit like white on rice. More food porn and the review after the jump.
I went with the Exchange Student, which came with pecorino cheese, black pepper, and my own addition of bacon. This was probably my favorite combination of the evening. The pecorino cheese was lighter than the typical cheddar cheese you find in the dish, the black pepper gave it a bit of bite, and we all know bacon is like crack–everything it touches becomes addicting. I like this dish because I personally never would have thought to use a hard cheese like pecorino as the base. You think mac and cheese, and melting cheeses come to mind. A kick-ass dish.
The husband went with the Vermont white cheddar mac with hot peppers. When I asked him what he thought, he said “It was creamy and cheesy and filled my belly.” Luckily, I had tasted it myself, and found the cheddar to have a nice sharpness to it, and the peppers (I think they were fresh jalapeno) gave the dish a nice but subtle zing of heat. Although I’m usually not a fan of breadcrumbs on mac and cheese, these buttered badboys made for a nice contrast in textures.
Another guest got the Trailer mac, which was a basic cheddar mac and cheese studded with Niman Ranch hot dogs and crushed potato chips. I really dug this one–I never had the pleasure of encountering such a combo while growing up, but it was fun to eat, especially with the potato chips, and surprisingly delicious. A little rich, so I’m not sure I could handle a whole bowl, but it was fun to try it.
The final mac n cheese of the night was the spicy mac: pepper jack cheese and hot peppers. This was…spicy! A bit too spicy for my taste, but the person who ordered it seemed to enjoy the dish.
We also went for two desserts to cap off the night:
The homemade Oreos, which were giant soft cookie sandwiches sprinkled with sea salt. They didn’t taste like Oreos, and the chocolate flavor in the cookies was not terribly strong. Not my favorite.
We also tried the peanut butter pie with graham cracker crust, which tasted like a giant Nutter Butter cookie. It was creamy, yet tangy, and super rich with the peanut butter, but I couldn’t stop eating it.
At the end of the meal, I was fairly happy. While I’m personally not a huge mac and cheese fan, I appreciate having the ability to customize my own mac and cheese, and having a wide variety of cheese sauces to choose from. This is not a restaurant I would eat at every week, but would definitely go into my regular rotation. My husband, who is a huge mac and cheese fan, loved this place, and would eat here every night if I let him.
400 40th Street
Oakland, CA 94609