Stay Cheesin’

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Stay Cheesin’

Charlie Rosgen

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Mac and cheese will always have a special place in my heart, right next to my slowly clogging carotid artery. The warm, gooey pasta, the crunchy breadcrumbs that cover the top, the infamous cheese pull, the creamy sauce that makes me ignore my stomachs constant reminder of my intolerance to lactose. The point is — I love mac and cheese. So, naturally, when I heard about a restaurant dedicated primarily to mac and cheese in San Francisco, I knew I needed to go.

After a scenic drive across the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset, I arrive in The Marina in the peak of the saturday night dinner rush. If there is anything you need to know about the Marina on a saturday night dinner rush, it is that parking is a bloody nightmare, especially as you anxiously await the impending joy that is mac and cheese.

Mac’d is somewhat of a do-it-yourself mac and cheese restaurant. You walk in and are immediately faced with a board of options, from the shape of pasta you want, to the toppings beautifully mixed in with it. Confused? The simple slogan will help you out: “We’re not going to stop you. You dream it, we’ll mix it.”.

Your first step is to choose your sauce, of which there is a plenty. Starting with The #basic, a classic blend of cheddar-jack with a dash of spices because “basic can be a little extra, too!”. This is followed by The Goddess which features jack cheese and garlic. Next up on the roster is The Hellapeno is described as ‘a little sweet, a little spice’. For those who love wings, The Buffalo is right up your alley, a cheddar based sauce with tangy buffalo mixed in. The Pesto, is a simple cheese and basil blend that ‘can count as one of your five a day’. Finally, for all you vegans out there, there is The Vegan, a sauce made from the Uncreamery vegan cheese, which is so good it ‘will have you thinking you’re eating real cheese’.

On the enticing board there is a list of pasta shapes you can choose from: Shells, Elbows or Cauliflower (for an small premium of 2$). This is followed by a lengthy list of ‘mix ins’, additional flavours and additions you can choose to add in. The list includes some well appreciated indulgences, such as bacon, chicken, corn, peas, chorizo, broccoli, tomatoes and jalapenos. Not to mention those that cost a little extra, such as crab (3$) and shrimp (3$) for those with a flare for the ocean.

Next stop on your journey to deliciousness is choosing the toppings. If you like your mac and cheese nice and crunchy, they offer panko breadcrumbs. For those who crave a little spice in their life, they offer Hot Cheetos as a topping. Included in list of toppings there is parmesan shavings and truffle oil. For those who have a couple bucks to spare, you can choose to add Korean short ribs (for 4$) or pulled pork (4$).

Anyway, on to how it actually tasted. As I mentioned, I am quite the mac and cheese master, so naturally, my opinion here is accurate. I went for the #basic, with shells, bacon and panko. And let me tell you — it was outstanding. There was just enough bacon to leave a smokey flavour that enriched the experience while still allowing for the rich cheesiness to seep through. The crispy panko on top added texture that juxtaposed perfectly with the soft creaminess of the pasta.

On my second trip, because of course I needed a second trip, I went for the Goddess sauce  with no add-ins so I could truly experience the flavour. The main difference between the #basic sauce and The Goddess sauce is that The Goddess has a hint of garlic riddle within the jack cheese. Bottomline, it was amazing. The garlicky undertones added a whole new level of tastiness, the semi sweet flavours matched with the saltiness of the jack cheese made for an delightful experience.

Alongside the extravagant list of mac and cheese options, there is a seperate list full of sides and daily specials. The list includes, truffle garlic fries, ‘naked’ fries, garlic aioli brussel sprouts and honey Sriracha brussel sprouts. As a fan of truffle oil, I got the truffle garlic fries, and my goodness- they were outstanding.  The fries were perfectly crisp and crunchy, and the truffle oil was paired beautifully with the garlicky oil that was mixed in. The fries were also topped with thinly grated parmesan cheese that just blew my mind. I have never had fries as delectable as these.

Honestly, Mac’d is a great idea. It fits in seamlessly with the current fomo  and the foodie network. The atmosphere is amazing, the interior is simple yet classy. Overall, totally worth the bridge fare.