Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mac! Mac & Cheesery

Mac! Mac & Cheesery is a mac 'n cheese dive on North Mississippi Ave. in Portland, Oregon. They are extremely new to the food scene, having opened in mid to late September 2011.

Menu (as of late September 2011)
Right as you enter the establishment, you're just a few feet from the ordering counter. They have several mac 'n cheese options, along with salads, soups, sandwiches, and hot dogs. And something cool about this place: vintage lunchboxes on the wall!

Regarding mac 'n cheese, each of their dishes gets topped with breadcrumbs. Mac's most popular mac 'n cheese dishes are the Four Cheese ($7): a blend of white cheddar, gruyere, parmigiano-reggiano, and mozzarella; the Caprese ($7.50): roasted cherry tomato, fresh basil, and mozzarella; and (3) the Truffle ($10.50): shaved prosciutto, peas, mushrooms, and truffle oil. This time, I went simple and ordered the Four Cheese mac 'n cheese.

Four Cheese mac 'n cheese (Mac! Mac & Cheesery)
(Bad picture, I know...damn shadows)

I intended to go simple for my first mac 'n cheese at this dive, and, to be fair, I got a decent, honest product in return. No frills here. I enjoyed the light sprinkling of breadcrumbs over the top of the mac 'n cheese, giving it a wonderful textural contrast with the stringy cheese and the cooked elbow macaroni. Unfortunately, in the grand scheme of things, it just looked pedestrian. I prefer a gooey, thick cheesy sauce with depths of flavor, and here, it was simple cooked macaroni, cheese melted on top, and then breadcrumbs on top of that. I added some Frank's Red Hot sauce to my meal for more flavor depth.

Mac! also suffers the same fate as Montage: the serving of lukewarm mac 'n cheese. I would have liked my meal piping hot (as in fresh out of the oven or from under the broiler) and with more cheese. If a food cart like Herb's Mac & Cheese can utilize a small conveyor belt oven and deliver a hot product to customers, brick-and-mortar places can do the same. And I know it's called "mac 'n cheese" and not "cheese 'n mac," but it's just something about a dosage of velvety cheese and cheese sauce that will transport me back to being about seven years old. Yeah, the whole nostalgia deal plays a big role in my overall assessment.

I must not forget about the bigger picture here. Mac! is still very new to the Portland food scene and offers an impressive menu that doesn't limit itself to just mac 'n cheese. I also received very good service. Mac! Mac & Cheesery delivered a passable product to me. I'f I'm in the neighborhood next time and craving more mac 'n cheese, I'll lean towards the Truffle. I've used truffle oil before in my dishes, and it would make a killer dish if done properly.

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