I’m going to start this mac ‘n’ cheese review with a disclaimer that Slocums Grill & Bar’s Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese is definitely not for anyone with even the slightest lactose intolerance. And for different reasons than Bar | Kitchen’s dish, this is not for the faint of heart. It is probably the cheesiest mac I’ve ever had, with both creamy and gooey cheeses. Do I dare go as far as to say it was too cheesy even for me? . . . Nah.
Needless to say, it was one of the better macaroni and cheese dishes I’ve had on my quest. The fact that it is touted as “the ultimate mac ‘n’ cheese” in the menu says it was meant for me and my quest. Even before reading the description, I was sold on “smoked gouda” in the name. Smoked gouda is not for everyone, but I definitely like it. Surprisingly its distinct flavor didn’t stand out in the dish as much as I was expecting, though, I could pick out both the gouda and parmesan flavors. It had a rich, tasty flavor in every bite.
I think the combination of the two cheeses really helped achieve superior creaminess and gooeyness. It’s difficult to achieve both to a high level; the emphasis is either on creaminess, like Panera’s mac ‘n’ cheese, or on gooeyness like The Misfit’s baked mac ‘n’ cheese. Chef Slocums is clearly not your average mac-and-cheese maker.
Also adding to the flavor were the diced green onions and the smokehouse bacon (the latter can be added for $2 extra). From a texture standpoint, I think the bacon could have been cooked a little longer and chopped up smaller. I came across numerous pieces that were pretty rubbery (maybe I just got all the super fatty pieces). The spinach didn’t add much to the dish minus a little texture and color. Maybe it’s included to help people get their portion of vegetables for the day or help them feel better about ordering something that is probably pretty bad unhealthy…? But honestly, when you order macaroni and cheese, you just have to accept that you’re not in it for the nutritional value – just own your decision and enjoy it. The spinach was pretty sparse throughout already, so if the chef decided to start leaving it out, I don’t think anyone would miss it.
The very large portion comes out piping hot. Although I think it’s meant to be a main pasta entrée, I think it’s best shared. My friend and I shared it along with the salmon entrée, and we were still able to get our fill of macaroni and share it with people at the table. I would not recommend tackling it yourself because not only would you probably be eating 3,000 calories, but the cheesiness might also be a bit much by the last bite – even for a cheese head like me.
The place: Slocums Grill & Bar, Mammoth Lakes
The dish: Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese, $15
The ingredients: Large elbow noodles, cream sauce blend of smoked gouda and parmesan, spinach, green onions, garlic toasted breadcrumbs, smokehouse bacon
The verdict: A most delightful bowl of extremely cheesy goodness that’s likely bad for nondairy-ers and my derriere.