Sunday, July 21, 2013

The best of macaroni and cheese: Milwaukee edition

Honeypie mac and cheese, photo by Benny Sieu, via JS Online

I have always loved mac and cheese as my favorite food since I was a kid, and I am so glad that it is fashionable for restaurants to have mac and cheese on the menu.  As a result, I have eaten mac and cheese at every restaurant I have been to that serves it.  And there are a lot of them.

Here are a few tips for you if you are out on a similar mission to try all of the delicious mac and cheese in the world.  First, if it is on the kids menu, don’t bother.  Kids menu is code for they don’t care what it tastes like, so order something else.  Second, the noodles have to be cooked correctly as in not overcooked.  Finally, the best mac and cheeses usually have some or all of the following components:

·         Cheddar or another strong flavored cheese: Blue cheese, sharp cheddar, and gouda are all options.  Too many mac and cheeses don’t make the cut because the cheese does not have enough flavor.

·         Creamy base sauce: A good b├ęchamel sauce is critical.  Stop serving me just cheese and noodles, it doesn’t work.

·         Bread crumbs: The textural difference with some seasoned bread crumbs really brings the dish together, does it not?

Here are a few of my favorites from around the city of Milwaukee.  Try them out when you are around town, and please, tell me of any new ones you come across!

Triskele’s – This is one of the more popular responses when people in Milwaukee are asked about the best mac and cheese.  They offer build-your-own mac and cheese, so if it isn’t as good as you hope, it is probably your own fault.

Honeypie – My favorite one, I think (pictured above).  It is hard to say without trying them all side by side, but it is amazing.  It has many of the success factors in mac and cheese, like cheddar, a cheesy base sauce, bacon, and crispy bread crumbs.

Comet – Beefy or add ham and peas, or of course bacon.  Everything at Comet is incredible, and available with bacon.  Plus, I love the cute owners.

Smoke Shack – Best side dish ever with the best BBQ meat ever.  Go early in the afternoon so that you don’t miss out on the best options on the menu, because they run out.  And don’t wear silk or other clothes that are ruined once you spill barbeque sauce on yourself.

Balzac – I know not everyone might agree with me, but this is a winning dish at Balzac.  Get some wine, some mac and cheese, and plan to hang for a while because the service is mediocre.

Ginger Tapas Bar – Rosemary mac and cheese is a good choice from the tapas menu here, and add chicken if you are wild like that.  Make sure you also get one of their delicious cocktails.

Ian’s Pizza – Mac and cheese pizza is a carb addict’s drug.  Even better at 1:00 a.m., but still delicious sober.  This is not the case for all pizza.  Good for both Milwaukee and Madison late might outings.

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