This is another impromptu inclusion to the Mac ‘n’ Cheese Quest because I met friends for lunch at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery and saw macaroni and cheese on the menu. I didn’t actually order it, but my boyfriend did, so I took every opportunity I could to steal a bite.
The restaurant’s “Classic Mac ‘n’ Chicken” is listed in the restaurant’s Brewery Classics section aside other signature entrees. Unlike Karl Strauss’ dish that left chicken optional, this dish adds it as a key ingredient. To me, a good macaroni and cheese doesn’t need any meat or other nontraditional ingredient to make it good. I prefer it served straight up and super cheesy. But Rock Bottom’s chicken addition was actual good. The menu says mac ‘n’ cheese “loaded” with chicken, so I was worried I’d have to fish for my pasta amongst the chicken chunks. There was just the right amount, however, and the pieces of chicken were just the right size. It didn’t take away from the flavor, and honestly, if it added any flavor, it was only slight. More than anything, the chicken provided some texture.
Rock Bottom understands my theory of using a deeper dish: It came out in a deep bowl, which helped with saturation. The dish actually seemed small, but it really held a lot. The meal also came with a decent-size side salad, so there was more than enough food. Again, comparing to Karl Strauss: A salad really wasn’t necessary; the pasta was sufficient.
The cheese sauce was very creamy and gooey, and it was the perfect consistency to coat the spiral fusilli noodles. It had great flavor: not too rich, but not bland by any means. The baked dish appeared to be topped with shredded cheese that had been toasted, but according to the menu, they were “crunchy Parmesan breadcrumbs.” Either way, they didn’t do much and could have been left off.
The restaurant: Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Long Beach, CA
The plate: Classic Mac ‘n’ Chicken, $13.50
The ingredients: Cream sauce, jalapeno Tabasco, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, onion powder, secret Rock Bottom seasoning, cheddar cheese, Velveeta, asiago cheese, monterey jack cheese, milk, fusilli pasta, chicken, parmasan breadcrumbs
The verdict: Delish! While I won’t be adding chicken to my macaroni and cheese on a regular basis, Rock Bottom’s classic showed me I can have my mac and chicken, too.