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Mac & cheese on the brain...

Mac & cheese on the brain...
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  • Mac & cheese on the brain...

    Post #1 - January 26th, 2007, 3:19 am
    Post #1 - January 26th, 2007, 3:19 am Post #1 - January 26th, 2007, 3:19 am
    I have it. I am obsessed with mac and cheese.

    My kid will only eat the Annie's Organic variety (yes, he knows the name, can distinguish between the various boxes, can tell the difference in taste and aroma, and will happily ask at a restaurant if they have it!). So at home, I can't get an appreciative audience for making the good stuff.

    I have been reading about various add-ins and have tried some of them: lobster, bone-in ham, scallops (!!?), truffles, various veg combinations, etc. But I also admire a dish of pure, unadulterated pasta enrobed in creamy cheese, with or without crunchy topping.

    I am looking for the BEST mac & cheese incarnations in the city before triathlon training starts up (NB: I exercise purely so that I can eat more). I'm carbo-loading now for the next six months, so lay it on me.

    What are the best places to get really killer mac & cheese and what makes that version so great, in your opinion?
    "Whatever you are, be a good one." -Abraham Lincoln
  • Post #2 - January 26th, 2007, 4:59 am
    Post #2 - January 26th, 2007, 4:59 am Post #2 - January 26th, 2007, 4:59 am
    Smith and Wollensky makes a killer truffled mac and cheese as a side dish. The portion is large enough to serve as an entree for one at lunch.
  • Post #3 - January 26th, 2007, 6:57 am
    Post #3 - January 26th, 2007, 6:57 am Post #3 - January 26th, 2007, 6:57 am
    Mac & cheese is by far the best thing to eat at Fat Willy's, in my opinion.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #4 - January 26th, 2007, 9:03 am
    Post #4 - January 26th, 2007, 9:03 am Post #4 - January 26th, 2007, 9:03 am
    I can't tell you where to get the best but I do have the recipe for the best. It was handed down from my late Grama.
    The clown is down!
  • Post #5 - January 26th, 2007, 9:07 am
    Post #5 - January 26th, 2007, 9:07 am Post #5 - January 26th, 2007, 9:07 am
    JeanneBean wrote:I can't tell you where to get the best but I do have the recipe for the best. It was handed down from my late Grama.


    If it's mac & cheese recipes you seek to find or share, there's a great thread in Shopping & Cooking.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #6 - January 26th, 2007, 9:26 am
    Post #6 - January 26th, 2007, 9:26 am Post #6 - January 26th, 2007, 9:26 am
    Have you been to Kuma's? You can't bring the kid, but, damn fine bar food and some very intense mac and cheese. When I lived over there it was my hands down favorite for a bad day meal.

    When they first opened it was only served with andouille, carmelized onions and red pepper. Then, when a new chef appeared, they briefly took it off- "It's not a summer dish" said the owner. By August, it was back by popular demand in this "make-your-own" form. Still delicious though.

    Good long thread here:

    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=4414&highlight=kumas

    Quick contact here:

    Kuma's Corner
    2900 W. Belmont
    http://www.kumas-corner.com
  • Post #7 - January 26th, 2007, 9:43 am
    Post #7 - January 26th, 2007, 9:43 am Post #7 - January 26th, 2007, 9:43 am
    A great topic. Mac 'n' cheese options that immediately spring to mind (mostly in my neighborhood; for some reason, mac 'n' cheese doesn't draw me to other neighborhoods):

    Cooper's. In Lakeview on Belmont. This space used to be Menagerie and was reinvented as Cooper's. One of the few items carried over from the Menagerie menu is a duck confit mac 'n' cheese. It's a little smoky/meaty from the duck and not quite as creamy as other mac 'n' cheeses, but it's good.

    Fat Willy's, as already mentioned.

    Cullen's on Southport. Creamy mac 'n' cheese with a nice crust on top. Very good.

    Stanley's at Lincoln/Armitage. Decent but not great. Goes well with fried chicken, though.

    -Dan
  • Post #8 - January 26th, 2007, 9:46 am
    Post #8 - January 26th, 2007, 9:46 am Post #8 - January 26th, 2007, 9:46 am
    HI,

    Smoque has a pretty good macaroni and cheese. While I want a large wedge, they serve it in portion controlled foil cups, which leaves me wanting more.

    Fat Willy's 4-cheese macaroni and cheese is very good as stated above.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #9 - January 26th, 2007, 9:55 am
    Post #9 - January 26th, 2007, 9:55 am Post #9 - January 26th, 2007, 9:55 am
    I'll second Kuma's. The build-your-own feature is dangerous, but delicious. I'm a fan of the peas and bacon.
  • Post #10 - January 26th, 2007, 11:14 am
    Post #10 - January 26th, 2007, 11:14 am Post #10 - January 26th, 2007, 11:14 am
    I have always enjoyed the smoked gouda mac and cheese at Handlebar.

    Handlebar
    2311 W. North Ave.
    773-384-9546
  • Post #11 - January 26th, 2007, 11:24 am
    Post #11 - January 26th, 2007, 11:24 am Post #11 - January 26th, 2007, 11:24 am
    About a year ago I had some legit mac and cheese at Potash Brothers supermarket...not sure if they serve it everyday but this stuff was really good.
  • Post #12 - January 26th, 2007, 12:09 pm
    Post #12 - January 26th, 2007, 12:09 pm Post #12 - January 26th, 2007, 12:09 pm
    Mac n' cheese is one of those dishes we make quite a bit but almost never buy.

    We eat a lot of cheese, so we always have scraps of half-eaten stuff sitting around, and mac n' cheese is an excellent way to use up old fromage -- and I find that a good blend of different cheeses (even softer ones like St. Andre or Camembert) is a fine way to add dimension to the dish.

    I'm having some of The Wife's for lunch, in fact...

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #13 - January 26th, 2007, 1:23 pm
    Post #13 - January 26th, 2007, 1:23 pm Post #13 - January 26th, 2007, 1:23 pm
    JeanneBean wrote:I can't tell you where to get the best but I do have the recipe for the best. It was handed down from my late Grama.


    JeanneBean- I would really like to try your recipe- since you say its the best- if you post it in the other thread.
  • Post #14 - January 26th, 2007, 3:09 pm
    Post #14 - January 26th, 2007, 3:09 pm Post #14 - January 26th, 2007, 3:09 pm
    Dear fellow mac-and-cheesians (I invented a new word!),

    Here is the agenda:

    1) Fat Willy's for dinner tonight. You know what I'm having for my main course, but I'll also try the smoked chicken and a couple of corn dogs for the kids.

    2) Kuma's Corner in the next week. I need to find a night when I can go for dinner and drinks with a girlfriend, as all the Kuma's threads have made it clear this is not a family-fun destination. I will "build my own" and report back on the success of this undertaking.

    3) Try one or two of the recipes in the referenced "Shopping & Cooking" thread, for a taste-test. My office mates will love me if I provide leftovers!

    4) And whatever else I can fit in before I need elastic-waist jeans...

    FYI, I'm not a fan of Stanley's (like you said, Dan, it's just OK).
    Also, I am not going back to Handlebar due to service problems there - one of my very first posts at LTH was about my experiences there - and the fact that I feel bad/mad/sad when I leave that place. Mac & cheese should make you happy!

    Keep the recommendations coming, because you are making me hungry and excited about all the new cheesy experiences I have in front of me. :)
    "Whatever you are, be a good one." -Abraham Lincoln
  • Post #15 - January 26th, 2007, 5:50 pm
    Post #15 - January 26th, 2007, 5:50 pm Post #15 - January 26th, 2007, 5:50 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:Smoque has a pretty good macaroni and cheese. While I want a large wedge, they serve it in portion controlled foil cups, which leaves me wanting more.


    I'm with Cathy on this - I LOVED the mac-n-cheese at Smoque. It was served in a small-ish foil cup, and it was topped with melted cheddar, which had me expecting a less creamy, more just melted cheddar w/pasta version. but no. under that melted cheddar top was a wonderfully creamy very simple and very tasty mac-n-cheese. I was wanting more than the small cup, but once our plates were cleaned I realized that the amount was the perfect sized side for a rib dinner with one other side (we had their fries, which are now as well my favorite in the city).

    leesh
  • Post #16 - January 26th, 2007, 6:24 pm
    Post #16 - January 26th, 2007, 6:24 pm Post #16 - January 26th, 2007, 6:24 pm
    Ooh... I've been simultaneously wanting to introduce/treat my SO to Smoque based on early reviews, but have been selfish about actually going since I'm not a meat-eater personally, but this is good news...

    Now I can be a "martyr" and let him have BBQ, and I'll have no choice but to get the (usually off-limits carb and fat-full) vegetarian option of mac and cheese.

    Yay!!! But shhh.... don't tell him!
  • Post #17 - January 26th, 2007, 7:49 pm
    Post #17 - January 26th, 2007, 7:49 pm Post #17 - January 26th, 2007, 7:49 pm
    bnowell724 wrote:
    JeanneBean wrote:I can't tell you where to get the best but I do have the recipe for the best. It was handed down from my late Grama.


    JeanneBean- I would really like to try your recipe- since you say its the best- if you post it in the other thread.


    Consider it posted! :wink:
    The clown is down!
  • Post #18 - January 29th, 2007, 5:57 am
    Post #18 - January 29th, 2007, 5:57 am Post #18 - January 29th, 2007, 5:57 am
    We went to Fat Willy's on Friday night, and as those of you who suggested it can imagine, I LOVED the 4-Cheese Mac. I hoarded some of it so that I could have it again tonight.

    The other dishes at Fat Willy's left something to be desired, but you warned me. The pulled pork was at least better than the dry, non-smokey chicken. One of my sons loved his corn dog, the other just picked at it; but then again, their standard for corn dogs is Morningstar Farms Veggie Dogs, so perhaps my toddler was put off by the authenticity. Nobody ate the fries; we all saved those calories for the delicious mac & cheese. My husband, mother-in-law and I agreed it has an addictive blend of cheeses. Mmmmmm.

    Now, it's on to Smoque, where it sounds like I am going to have a rather well-rounded BBQ meal!

    After that, I have to try Trixie-Pea's recipe from the link earlier in this thread. I have been assured it is the best mac & cheese dish ever, and I am excited to find out.

    If anyone else has rec's for places to try amazing mac & cheese (high or low end is fine), please send them my way!
    "Whatever you are, be a good one." -Abraham Lincoln
  • Post #19 - January 29th, 2007, 8:01 am
    Post #19 - January 29th, 2007, 8:01 am Post #19 - January 29th, 2007, 8:01 am
    Funny, one of the things that I always liked at Fat Willy's was the smoked chicken. Though I haven't been in a few years due to having found much superior places for barbeque, my history with that dish was, if anything, it was so smokey that my hands would smell like smoke for 24 hours after tearing into it. I guess their volume approach has reduced the amount of time their chicken spends in the smoker.

    Being more a fan of the southern style mac and cheese baked custard-like, I never really fell for Willy's mac and cheese. A little too gloppy for me.

    Now, their chocolate pecan pie was another story. Yowza, that stuff was awesome.

    A few years go, I favored a a "grown up" mac and cheese that I found in one of David Rosengarten's cookbooks. It was made with a bechamel with cheese and julienned sauteed zuchini which gave it a nice sweetness. I really liked that dish.
  • Post #20 - January 29th, 2007, 1:12 pm
    Post #20 - January 29th, 2007, 1:12 pm Post #20 - January 29th, 2007, 1:12 pm
    If you're in the mood to cook, this recipe from Bon Appétit in February 2007 looks mighty good. Mac and Cheese with Buffalo Chicken:

    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recip ... ews/237102

    As soon as I get some free time I'm making it. Perhaps, now that I think about it, I'll bring it to the Super Bowl par-tay I'm attending. I'll get to taste it, but won't have it lying around the house waiting for me to eat all of it.

    - Mike
    Did you know there is an LTHforum Flickr group? I just found it...
  • Post #21 - January 29th, 2007, 1:42 pm
    Post #21 - January 29th, 2007, 1:42 pm Post #21 - January 29th, 2007, 1:42 pm
    I'll look forward to trying some of these suggestions too!

    I would like to throw out the Mac and Cheese at the Horseshoe on Lincoln near Irving Park.

    I forget which night, but they it on special one night a week also. I also like the brisket there.
    Chicago BBQ: Overall:
    1) Honey 1 1) Jack Stack BBQ, KC
    2) Fat Willies 2) Rib House, Longmont, CO
    3) Leon's #5 3) Cherokee Strip, Stillwater, OK
  • Post #22 - January 29th, 2007, 2:08 pm
    Post #22 - January 29th, 2007, 2:08 pm Post #22 - January 29th, 2007, 2:08 pm
    Had dinner at Landmark Grill + Lounge last night. As a side, my wife and I shared the Mac & Cheese with Lardons. Really good cheesy, smoky flavor.
  • Post #23 - January 29th, 2007, 8:20 pm
    Post #23 - January 29th, 2007, 8:20 pm Post #23 - January 29th, 2007, 8:20 pm
    I love the mac and cheese at the Morseland. It's very creamy and rich, plus it has the crunchy crumb topping. It's just wonderful.

    Personally, I would like to find a place that has great BBQ *and* great mac and cheese. It's always either-or here, it seems. Guess I'll save that dream for our trip to Memphis this spring....
  • Post #24 - January 29th, 2007, 8:55 pm
    Post #24 - January 29th, 2007, 8:55 pm Post #24 - January 29th, 2007, 8:55 pm
    It's a bit frou frou for most, but Bistro Campagne in Lincoln Square has the best macaroni and cheese I've ever had in my life. They use gruyere and emmental cheeses, and it's just wonderful.
  • Post #25 - January 30th, 2007, 9:11 am
    Post #25 - January 30th, 2007, 9:11 am Post #25 - January 30th, 2007, 9:11 am
    . . .but Bistro Campagne in Lincoln Square has the best. . .


    Bistro Campagne seems to have the best anything I've ever had.
  • Post #26 - July 22nd, 2008, 4:06 pm
    Post #26 - July 22nd, 2008, 4:06 pm Post #26 - July 22nd, 2008, 4:06 pm
    This is my first post on this forum and I can't think of a better thread to begin with. I've been on a summer long expedition to locate, taste, and rate the best mac 'n cheese in town.

    I had Kuma's mac yesterday and it bombtastic. $10 gets you a heaping plate of mac, some white melty cheese, toasted bread crumbs baked on top and two ingredients of your choice - I chose andouille sausage and bacon. Kuma's is now up there in the list. Any place that has a crispy bread crumb topping gets major points in my book. Crunchy and creamy is where it's at.

    So, I'd recommend mac 'n cheese at the following Chicago restaurants/bars (in order of best to worst):

    -Harmony Grill/Schubas
    -Kuma's
    -Mac's
    -The Smoke Daddy (only comes as a side)

    Last night my buddy, a fellow mac 'n cheese connoisseur, recommended:

    -Silvercloud (says it's the best he's had)
    -Motel
    -ZK Food (apparently, it's spicy here)
    -Glenn's Diner (only comes as a side)
  • Post #27 - July 22nd, 2008, 4:12 pm
    Post #27 - July 22nd, 2008, 4:12 pm Post #27 - July 22nd, 2008, 4:12 pm
    ChgoMike wrote:If you're in the mood to cook, this recipe from Bon Appétit in February 2007 looks mighty good. Mac and Cheese with Buffalo Chicken:

    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recip ... ews/237102

    As soon as I get some free time I'm making it. Perhaps, now that I think about it, I'll bring it to the Super Bowl par-tay I'm attending. I'll get to taste it, but won't have it lying around the house waiting for me to eat all of it.

    - Mike


    OK, Mike, for some reason I missed this the first time around - it does look good - but I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around the blurb at the top of the linked page, where they recommend pairing the dish with Pabst Blue ribbon - and then go on to describe it. Must be the same crew that got Stevez to try Ale8.
  • Post #28 - July 22nd, 2008, 10:26 pm
    Post #28 - July 22nd, 2008, 10:26 pm Post #28 - July 22nd, 2008, 10:26 pm
    I can't get enough of the truffle mac and cheese with edamame at Boka. It's served as a side dish.
  • Post #29 - July 23rd, 2008, 7:57 am
    Post #29 - July 23rd, 2008, 7:57 am Post #29 - July 23rd, 2008, 7:57 am
    We went to Cooper's Hawk last night (my full comments here) and the mac & cheese side was definitely a highlight of the meal. They said there were four cheeses in there; I'm not sure what they were, but it was tasty- rich, smooth, cheesy. They used tubetti pasta, which made for a very good texture- because of the length:width ratio of the pasta, the sauce really coated all sides of it. There was a crisp, nicely toasted breadcrumb crust on top.

    Hmmm...I don't think I can wait until lunch for my leftovers.....
  • Post #30 - July 23rd, 2008, 10:08 am
    Post #30 - July 23rd, 2008, 10:08 am Post #30 - July 23rd, 2008, 10:08 am
    I can't get enough of the truffle mac and cheese with edamame at Boka. It's served as a side dish.


    Maybe I had this on an off night, but the dish I got was greasy, lacked any cheesy creaminess and was bland (it taste like bad mac and cheese reheated the next day in the microwave). This is by no means an indication of my opinion of Boka because I really liked everything else. I'm afraid to order again - am I missing something?
    FIG Catering, For Intimate Gatherings
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