Before I knew The Misfit served gourmet macaroni and cheese, I really wanted to go there because it was “the new” restaurant-bar in Santa Monica and everyone only had good things to say about it. When my friend told me we were going there to start of her bachelorette party, I was stoked, and scoured the menu to see what I might order. My eyes immediately darted to the entrée that would my next stop on the Ultimate Mac ‘n’ Cheese Quest.
Most of the items on the menu were designed to share, but the macaroni and cheese, which you could order with Spanish chorizo or pancetta (for a couple bucks more), was enough to be a meal for one—and I definitely wasn’t planning on sharing. Although I didn’t order any of the add-ins, the original version actually comes with diced green chilies. It seemed a strange ingredient (so much that one girl asked for hers without them), but I was eager to see what it brought to the flavor.
The square, shallow dish came out sizzling, literally; the cheese and oil around the edges was still bubbling. While normally a good thing for me because I like hot foods served hot, it was actually a not-so-obvious indication that the gooey pasta is served best at that temperature. Because once it cooled down, the oil started separating out and the cheese became rubbery. When that happens, it means that the cheese is real instead of Velveeta, which now must be labeled “cheese-flavored product.” But the draw back of real cheese (as well as cream-based sauces) is that it doesn’t stay in its creamy state long, and you definitely can’t reheat it. So unfortunately, I ended up with some noodles and noncreamy cheese swimming in oil. Honestly, there was so much oil, I had to drain it out on the saucer underneath. My apologies to the dishwasher, but I just couldn’t stomach it.
Ok, enough about the consistency; let me get to the taste. I must say, the chilies really did it. The main cheeses—Gruyere and Tillamook cheddar, which is by far my favorite—already had a sharp bite. But the diced chilies kicked it up a notch. Not where it was too spicy, though; just enough to make my nose start running. Although not listed on the menu, other ingredients included whole grain mustard and nutmeg, both of which added to the flavor even more.
Another aspect I liked was the pasta itself, which is actually a brown rice noodle for the gluten-free folk. Ironically, my friend recently “diagnosed” me with a gluten allergy, something that has yet to be confirmed. Either way, I couldn’t even tell!
As a complete package, the dish was good. The taste was spectacular, but my overall opinion was brought down significantly by the consistency. I wouldn’t order it again or recommend it, but I’d definitely go back to the joint to try something else off the unique menu. Oh, and I did end up sharing.
The place: The Misfit, Santa Monica
The dish: Baked Mac + Cheese, $10.50
The ingredients: Brown rice noodle, heavy cream, whole grain mustard, Tillamook cheddar, Gruyere cheese, parmesan reggiano and nutmeg
The verdict: The bite from the cheeses, spices and chilies was delicious, but the fact that I actually shared my mac ‘n’ cheese says a lot.