This mac and cheese is not for the faint of heart. I dipped my spoon in for the first bite, but stopped short when I realized I hadn’t taken a picture yet (nerd alert!). I quickly licked the spoon off before I set it aside and immediately found my mouth burning from the roasted jalapeños, which were minced in the cheese sauce. From that point, I knew I was in for a hot one – and not because I happened to be sitting at the table by the fireplace. I made sure to have plenty of water on hand; red wine wasn’t going to do the trick.
The cheesy goodness came out piping hot – in temperature, in addition to spiciest – in an iron skillet. A “bacon herb crust” that consisted of bread crumbs, herbs (obvi) and crunchy bacon covered the top. More so than a little extra flavor, the topping added a great texture to the baked dish.
The cheese sauce was an aged white cheddar, so it had a delicious, rich flavor. Although cheddar often doesn’t get quite as gooey or creamy as I would like, this sauce’s consistency was pretty good. It had great coverage, coating all the elbow noodles. As I mentioned, the small jalapeño bits were blended in, so every bite was assured to be spicy. Even if I managed to get a bite that didn’t have pieces in it, the kick lived in the sauce. My guess is that the roasted jalapeños were blended and simmered with the cheese (I’m sure there’s a culinary term for that). Regardless of the proper term, they were exactly how roasted or cooked peppers should be: tender and permeating with flavor – far from the jalapeños in the last mac ‘n’ cheese I had, at Ore House in Vail.
Because I also ordered a burger (which came with tater tots), there was no way I was finishing the entire skillet. I ate half the pasta, half my burger and all the tots. Had I only gotten the macaroni and cheese, the portion would definitely have been sufficient for a meal. It’s also a good size if a group wanted to order it with a couple other small plates as appetizers or sides to their main dishes. It is listed under the “small plates” portion of the menu after all.
The place: Bar | Kitchen, Downtown LA
The dish: Mac & Cheese, $9
The ingredients: Large elbow noodles, white cheddar, cream sauce, minced jalapeños, bread crumbs, crumbled bacon, herbs
The verdict: Thumbs up for sure, but make sure you have plenty or water.