Monday, March 30, 2015

Review: Panera Bread

Panera Bread
Multiple Locations

Not too shabby, Panera.
Tyler Florence is going to kill me.

I think I might like Panera Bread's mac and cheese more than his...

Okay, maybe not, but it's not that bad.  It's actually got some pretty good flavor and the sauce is nice and creamy.  I've seen countless recipes passed around on Pinterest and other DIY friendly websites.  And for good reason.  It's a pretty decent version.

The one thing I will say that is has going against it is that you can taste a bit of that kind of "perservative", pre-made kind of flavor.  Something you'd expect maybe from a box of Kraft mac and cheese or some other easily prepared version of the dish.  And for that, I cannot put this dish into my top ten.

However, it's pretty good if you find yourself out and about, especially since there's a Panera Bread pretty much everywhere.  So fear not, non-San Francisco Bay Area readers!  There is a great mac and cheese near you, too!

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Review: Wayfare Tavern

Wayfare Tavern
558 Sacramento St, San Francisco

Wayfare Tavern's Mac and Cheese
This is going to start with a quick love letter to Tyler Florence's food:

YUM.  I want to eat everything!!!

...Except your mac and cheese.  Ouch.  Okay, maybe that was a little harsh.  It's actually a better mac and cheese than many places I've tried, and his El Paseo attempt was actually in my top ten for quite a while.

So why is this mac and cheese NOT in my top ten, still?  And why am I judging it so harshly now?  Perhaps because I've tasted so much many other dishes he's made and they've all been stellar.  I have high standards when it comes to his restaurants.  But I have some other reasons...

Here are my reasons for liking Tyler Florence's mac and cheese enough to have put it in the top ten:
  • Super perfect, rich, creamy texture.  He's really starting to beat Homeroom in this category so watch out, Oakland!
  • Great, light, crispy topping.  It could have a little more going for it, but it's pretty good as is.
  • Portion size is just right.  Not too little, but you could definitely eat it as a lunch or dinner and be more than satisfied.
Reason that Tyler Florence's mac and cheese is NOT in my top ten?:
  • Bland flavor.
The biggest critique I have about both El Paseo and Wayfare Tavern's mac and cheese attempts is that there isn't a lot of flavor.  I taste pretty much one flavor in the sauce and it's not even a cheese with a kick.  According to the menu, it's Vella Dry Jack.  Throw in some Gouda... or Gruyere even.  Just add some more complexity.

One of the most amazing desserts you'll ever have
All that said, it's still a strong contender and I still highly recommend it if you go to either restaurant.

But if you are looking for something REALLY amazing at Wayfare Tavern, may I recommend the housemade doughnut dessert with dipping sauces?

That thing was DELICIOUS.  I had already stuffed myself so full of amazing fried chicken, wild mushrooms, and mac and cheese that I barely had room for this little piece of heaven.  Somehow I managed to eat half of it before nearly passing out.  The server asked if I wanted to take the other half home and I'm still kicking myself for not doing so.

Anyway, I know a lot of folks who swear by Wayfare Tavern's mac and cheese, so feel free to make your stand here in the comments if you wish.  I'd really like to see Tyler Florence up his mac and cheese game in the future though.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Who Doesn't Love An Infographic?

Really, who doesn't love an infographic?  For fun, here's a map of You Don't Know Mac's top ten ranked mac and cheeses in the Bay Area:

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Friday, March 6, 2015

What To Watch: Homeroom Mini-Doc

Hey all, happy Friday!  Yep, two posts in one week.  I'm trying to make up for my crazy absence over the last couple months.

I found this cool mini-documentary by some students at Expression College about Homeroom.  It brought back some cool memories of when I got to meet with Erin and Allison for my interview before the holidays.  It's a really great team they've got there.

Anyway, check out the video, there's a lot of cool backstory I didn't get in my interview.  Also! At 7m:22s in, they use my blog post photo from my Homeroom review!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Review: Yard House

Yard House
Red Rock Resort, 11011 West Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas

Sorry for the HORRIBLE lighting.  It was way dark in there.
So I feel like I may have cheated a little bit on my Las Vegas entry for a review since I went to Yard House, which is actually a chain restaurant with locations in several different states...

But, in my defense, it was a crazy weekend and I had no energy to leave my hotel on Sunday, so when my travel companion suggested somewhere within the hotel to eat, I didn't argue.

This past weekend, I visited Las Vegas for the first time, and rather than go into all the details, I'll simply tell you about my mac and cheese experience.

I had never actually eaten at a Yard House before, so this was a new experience for me.  I'd seen one of their other locations near my parents' house and had wanted to try it sometime, so I was game to give it a shot.

It felt like any other chain-y "sports bar"/restaurant you might wander into (BJ's, Chili's,  etc.), except since this one was in Vegas, I was able to wander in with my casino bar wine glass in hand without anyone taking any notice.  The TVs had different sports playing on them.  One was focused on some baseball documentary, while another was playing some rodeo horse race type of sport (my friend was very familiar with it, since she had lived in areas with the sport and competed).

I ordered the House Favorite Mac & Cheese which included chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese and wild mushrooms.  I will admit I passed on the mushrooms.  I haven't always enjoyed having them in my mac and cheese.  The chicken was great.  Really well cooked and in these nice big pieces with lots of flavor.  The bacon was also good.  Instead of small bacon bits, they opted for fewer, larger pieces, which I think worked just great.  They didn't have any obvious thick sauce.  It was a little more on the lighter side, with just cheddar, but since you had the chicken and bacon flavors already, it worked just fine.  The only thing I was a little disappointed by was that the noodles felt a little undercooked.  But I think that might have also had to do with the type of noodle.  It was oddly shaped, like a little horn with ruffled edges.  I've now learned that noodle is called campanelle, which I'd heard of before, but never had.  I wonder if it's supposed to be cooked that way, or if it should've been a bit softer...

Anyway, I would order it again if I found myself at a Yard House location.  Not my favorite by any means, but not a bad option either.

Hope you all had great weekends!  I'm going to go take another nap.  What happens in Vegas... will leave you sleepy and tired for many days after.