Homeroom Mac + Cheese

After reading my post about the greatest Mac & Cheese ever, a friend suggested - actually I think it was more like, insisted - we had to visit the restaurant Homeroom.  Homeroom serves only one type of entree and I'm sure you can guess what that is, but they offer it up in a dozen different ways and you can further customize your Mac by adding "mix-ins" like bacon, peas, grilled chicken, chorizo, spinach, mushrooms, etc.

Our opportunity to taste test came up sooner than I had anticipated when the kids had a school holiday and we were able to speed over to Oakland for a weekday lunch to avoid the crowds.

We went with high expectations based on our friend's and Yelp's rave reviews which can sometimes result in a bit of a let down, but I thought Homeroom did a wonderful job of delivering the goods.  We were seated immediately and found ourselves goggling at a ceiling-tall blackboard with a whimsical map of California and some menu specials.

Everyone ordered a different "flavor" so we could sample and share:
  • Gilroy Mac - their best seller; I thought it had plenty of good garlic flavor.  My son also added bacon which never hurts.  One of my faves.
  • Maximus - a Greek-style mac with feta, spinach and artichoke hearts.  I wished it had more feta flavor.  My husband actually said he preferred my Greek Mac.  He likes having solid bits of feta rather than a completely creamy cheese sauce.
  • Vermont White Cheddar - my daughter loved this, but when asked if it was the best Mac & Cheese she's ever had, she said no; she liked my homemade Mac & Cheese because our cheese sauce was "chewier".  I interpreted that to mean it's not as liquidy, probably because I like to bake our mac & cheese in the oven for 10-15 minutes which dries out the sauce a bit.  So again, a totally personal preference at play here.  
  • Trailer Park - a traditional yellow cheddar Mac with Niman Ranch hot dog and topped with crushed potato chips. Couldn't resist ordering this based on the name alone.  Yum!  A fun, deelish dish that made me reminisce about Velveeta and Oscar Meyer hot dogs, in a good way!
  • Dungeness Crab Mac - a Valentine week special.  What a decadent treat having crab with your Mac & Cheese! The dish struck a perfect balance between having the crab flavor shine thru, but still having plenty of cheesy-ness. This was my favorite!
So here's some final comments and recommendations based on our experience and having read some of the complaints on Yelp:
  1. Try to go on weekdays to avoid the crowds.   Many Yelp reviews were downgraded because the authors experienced long waits to be seated. Especially hard when you've brought kiddos.
  2. Try to go with a larger group so you can order a bunch of different flavors and share.  One criticism was that after awhile, diners got tired of eating their dish.  But we found by having five different flavors, if someone got tired of their Trailer Mac, they could have a bite of Crab Mac, refresh their palate and go back for more Trailer Mac.  
  3. Some reviewers thought it was expensive.  Prices for Mac & Cheese range from $8.50 (Classic) to $14.95 (Truffle Mac).  IMO, those prices seem pretty much in line with other restaurants in our area. Besides, they give you huge portions.  Four of us took home leftovers that were enough for a second meal.  Of course, if you add a lot of the "mix-ins", that ups the price.  So if you're concerned about the price, stay away from the mix-ins and just order one of their pre-designed flavors.
Our family would definitely visit again to try more of Homeroom's inventive and fun mac & cheese flavors.  They've inspired me to play around with my own recipe and hopefully create some new family favorites.

400 40th Street  Oakland, CA 94609

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Lillian Hom said…
Pearl, I was going to try making your recipe but after reading your restaurant review, I think I'll save myself the trouble and have someone else do the cooking instead. Do you think they'll be busy on Presidents' Day?
Pearl Chow said…
Lillian, did you make it over to Homeroom? Would love to hear what you thought of it!

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