Seven or eight months ago, I professed my love for Mac and cheese and mentioned some of the restaurants around town where I had enjoyed this dish.
Since then, the Mac and cheese fever in Kansas City has exploded. A good reason for this, in my opinion, is that the dish is the perfect combination of comfort food and creativity. By changing the type of pasta, adding ingredients, using all different cheeses, every chef can call his version of Mac and cheese his own. So, here are more Mac and Cheese that I enjoyed recently. And again, I’ll end with the recipe for the best version ever: my own.
CHICKEN MACARONI AND CHEESE. 7025 Prospect. 816 912-2438. I didn’t quite catch the enormity of this dish in my photo, but you get the idea. It’s called the Chick-a-roni and it’s a huge hoagie bun filled with a crispy and spicy fried chicken breast that has been cut up, and topped with saucy and spicy macaroni and cheese. Just once in a lifetime, you should have one of these. I didn’t eat the bun, by the way.
EXTRA VIRGIN. 1900 MAIN. 816 842-2205. Michael Smith’s casual café beside his more formal restaurant has a good M.A.C. offering. It’s poblano mac and cheese with just a little heat and a nice smokiness from roasting the poblanos.
GRAMM & DUNN. 600 Ward Parkway. 816 389-2900. Gramm & Dunn, that chic place on the Plaza, has lots of out of town visitors I’m sure. To give them a taste of Kansas City barbecue, G&D has created a Burnt Ends M.A.C. The pasta is cheesy and saucy and the brisket is very tender though not really “burnt” but overall the dish is like two worlds colliding.
WESTSIDE LOCAL. 1663 Summit. 816 997-9089. Like many of these venues, The Local doesn’t use the classic macaroni, in this case cavatappi. This is a trend I’m not entirely approving of. But giving the chef the benefit of the doubt to create, the sauce is made with white cheddar and the add-ons are with bacon and shallots, my choice, and with sweet potatoes and kale.
McCOY’S’s. 4057 Penn. 816 960-0886. McCoy’s is not a Johnny-come-lately to this M.A.C. business. The menu states it has been their signature dish since 1997. It comes several ways: jumbo shells with 4 cheeses, one with bacon, one with chorizo and one with cauliflower and asparagas.
TRADER JOE’S. 8600 Ward Parkway and 4201 West 119th. Leave it to Trader Joe’s to figure out a way to make Mac and cheese into a snack item. Round balls of Mac and cheese lightly breaded, then frozen. They are in the frozen appetizer section and they’re not just for kids.