This just in folks. In our continuing search for the very best Macaroni and Cheese that Northwest (and beyond) restaurants and cafes have to offer, we have another winner!
Rather than make you wait a full year to learn which renditions make it into the roundup, we are sharing the versions we love as we discover them.
Astral Mac & Cheese, from the West Seattle blast-from-the-past diner, West 5, easily sailed into the upcoming Quintessential Mac & Cheese Roundup 2009.
Chef, Kelly Maclein, clearly knows her Mac & Cheese! Her creation consists of radiatori pasta and FIVE cheeses (cheddar, Swiss, cotija, parmesan, and cream cheese) all brought together in a sauce so ooey, gooey, creamy, rich, and delicious that you may go into a little revelry as you are eating each bite.
I actually found myself consciously slowly down so that all that amazing deliciousness wouldn't disappear too quickly. I was also having difficulty curbing the little animal-like sounds of pleasure that seemed to be emanating from my vocal cords, something like this.
2009 Mac & Cheese Superstars
Here are the Mac & Cheese renditions that have rocked our world so far this year and are thus queued up for the LunaCafe 2009 Mac & Cheese Roundup.
23 Hoyt (Portland, NW district)
Spiral macaroni with cheddar, gruyere, Rogue blue, and double-smoked applewood bacon.
Bandera (Scottsdale, Old Town)
Penne with Tillamook cheddar, Swiss cheese, parsley, rosemary, and pine nut breadcrumb topping.
Café Castagna (Portland, E Burnside)
Penne with gruyère, cheddar, Parmesan and green chile, with a raw egg on top.
Capitol Grille(Seattle, Downtown)
Baked Campanelle pasta and fresh lobster, tossed in a Mascarpone,
Havarti, and Grana Padano cream sauce. Topped with panko bread crumbs
and grated white cheddar.
Crave (Seattle, Capitol Hill)
Pasta shells with shiitake mushrooms, New York sharp cheddar, fontina, and parmesan.
Update: See the post titled, Crave: Shiitake Mac & Cheese, here. Unfortunately, Crave has closed.
Jo Bar (Portland, NW district)
A new Jo Bar Mac & Cheese entry: Garganelli pasta baked with bacon, cheddar, and Klamath Basin Ranch House Red ale.
Smash Wine (Seattle, University district)
Stove-top (not baked) mac and cheese with shaved truffle and Oregon white cheddar.
Roaring Fork (Scottsdale, AZ)
Western-style, stove-top (not baked) green poblano chili macaroni with a very small quantity of hot pepper Jack cheese.
For those of you searching for the recipe (LunaCafe receives a ton of Google referrals for this), Green Chili Macaroni is in Robert McGrath's most excellent cookbook, American Western Cooking: From the Roaring Fork and here.
LunaCafe posted my throw-down rendition of this mac & cheese in a post titled, World Famous Green Chile Mac & Cheese
Ten01 (Portland, Pearl district)
Shortrib mac and cheese with torchio pasta, beef short rib, and parmesan cream.
West 5 (West Seattle)
Radiatori pasta with five cheese: cheddar, Swiss, cotija, parmesan, and cream cheese.
2008 Mac & Cheese Superstars
And here are last year's winners.
Olea (Portland, Pearl district)
Heathman (Portland, Downtown)
Noble Rot (Portland, Laurelhurst)
NOTE: LunaCafe receives continuing Google referrals for this recipe. You can find the recipe for this excellent Mac & Cheese in The Tillamook Cheese Cookbook: Celebrating 100 Years of Excellence.
Serratto (Portland, NW district)
Pastini Pastaria (Portland, NW district)
Jo Bar (Portland, NW district)
Fratelli (Portland, Pearl district)
Café Venus (Seattle, Eastlake)
Veil (Seattle, East Lower Queen Anne, closed)
Beecher's Handmade Cheese (Seattle, Pike Place Market)
NOTE: LunaCafe receives continuing Google referrals for this recipe. You can find the recipe for this excellent Mac & Cheese in Pure Flavor: 125 Fresh All-American Recipes from the Pacific Northwest.
Stephanie's (Boston, Newberry St.)
Still To Try
Alu (Portland, NE MLK Blvd.)
Käsespätzle (swabian, southern german, "mac 'n cheese") with egg noodles, gruyére, cream, caramelized onions.
Black Sheep Bakery (Portland)
Pasta, bacon, mushrooms, and cheese.
BOKA (Seattle, Downtown)
Baked macaroni with creamy sauce of Gruyere, Brie, and crisp bacon. Topped with parmesan and panko breadcrumbs. (Recipe in Edible Seattle Fall 2008)
Daily Cafe (Portland, Pearl district)
Baked cavatappi pasta with fontina, asiago, mozzarella, and pecorino cheeses.
Davis Street Tavern (Portland, NW Davis)
Girella pasta with three cheese béchamel sauce.
Figs (Boston, Charles St.)
Baked orzo with Vermont cheddar, fontina, mozzarella, parmesan, peas, toasted garlicky bread crumbs & parsley.
Genies (Portland, SE Division)
Cavatappi pasta with three cheese sauce, broccoli and tomatoes.
Hayden's LakeFront Grill (Oregon, Tualatin)
Cavatappi pasta, Dungeness crab, Tillamook aged white cheddar, cream and green onion.
Kenny & Zuke's (Portland, Downtown)
Icon Grill (Seattle, Downtown)
Macaroni with four cheeses, tomatoes, and breadcrumb and cheese topping.
Henry's 12th Street Tavern (Portland, Pearl district)
Macaroni with a blend of Cajun spices, sausage, red peppers, onions, cheddar, mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan.
Montage (Portland, NE River district)
Eight, count em, stove-top mac & cheeses: Old Mac, Spicy Mac, Spold Mac, Spam Spicy Mac, Green Basil Pesto Mac, Tomato Basil Pesto Mac, Ham & Smoked Cheddar Mac, Cheddar Mac.
Purple Café and Wine Bar (Seattle, Downtown)
Lobster-baked mac & cheese.
Screen Door (Portland, E Burnside)
S'MAC (New York, East Village)
Could this be the sole mac & cheese only restaurant in the U.S.? Ten varieties, all made with excellent cheeses, served in a cast iron skillet. Worth a plane trip to New York? Tempted.
Voleur (Portland, Downtown/Skidmore)
Two styles: Traditional and with Andouille sausage.
Wild Abandon (Portland, SE Belmont)
Ziti with smoked mozzarella cheese sauce, Portobello mushrooms, roasted garlic, scallops, and breadcrumb topping.
Mac & Cheese Roundup
To check the continuously updated list of Mac & Cheese renditions that we hope to sample for this year's roundup and those that have already sailed into the best-of-the-best circle, click Quintessential Mac & Cheese (under the Dining tab).
LunaCafe Mac & Cheese Posts
Quintessential Mac & Cheese, Part 1 (2008 roundup)
Quintessential Mac & Cheese, Part 2 (recipe)
If you have a favorite restaurant Mac & Cheese that you would like to recommend for review, please Contact Us. Thanks!