Sunday, September 27, 2015

Review: Bear Republic Brewery

Bear Republic Brewery
345 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg

Wine Country visitors and residents: you MUST try Bear Republic's Brewers Mac and Cheese.

That's an order.

I had tried this mac and cheese once before with friends, but had a hard time mustering up the energy to truly judge it since we had just spent the day lounging by the pool and day drinking at Francis Ford Coppola Winery down the way.  Yes, hard life, I know.

So when I found myself eating there again this past Saturday, I felt compelled to try it again and give it a proper review.

It was great.  So great.  I love the flavors in this mac and cheese.  It has jack, cheddar, American, Parmesan, and a blue cheese bechamel sauce.  I usually don't even like blue cheese, but it really works well in this mac and cheese.  You can get it plain, or with bacon and/or jalapenos.  Since I tend to avoid super spicy foods, I went with the bacon.  Okay, I admit, I also just really love bacon.

The texture is very creamy and cheesy and I just love that.  The portion size is rather generous, as I remember from my first visit.  On this trip, however, a friend and I split the dish and it was just the right size.  We both felt full, but not stuffed.

With all that said, I have to explain why this mac won't be making it into my top ten, and I may get a lot of flack for it.

While AWESOME, I have a really hard time thinking of Healdsburg as part of the direct Bay Area.  It's a over an hour outside of San Francisco, and I tend to think of wine country in general as it's own entity.  I mean that in the BEST possible way.  I mean, I don't get excited about visiting another part of the Bay Area, but I sure do get excited about visiting wine country.  So, yeah, I guess that's my reasoning.  Sorry If that offends anyone.

So, again, if you are in that area of northern wine country, GO.  Go get yourself a mac and cheese.  Oh, and maybe some of their famous beer offerings as well.  Let's not forget that.

Review: ROCKS Lakeview

ROCKS Lakeview
3463 N. Broadway, Chicago

This is a FIELD TRIP post!  :)

I suppose Disneyland was also a field trip post since it's not the Bay Area, but I get especially excited when I can try mac and cheese offerings across California state lines.

Recently, I visited Chicago for a long weekend, and when friends and I found ourselves at ROCKS in the Lakeview neighborhood, I decided I should probably give a Chicago option a go.

ROCKS has named their dish Mac & Cheesus!  Kind of a funny title.  It contains smoked gouda, jack and cheddar cheese, diced chicken breast and is topped with some breadcrumbs and scallions.

I wish I could say it was as tasty as a Chicago deep dish pizza (now THAT was GREAT), but sadly, not this particular version.  The cheese texture was a little dry and the chicken was pretty flavorless, so it just sort of added to an overall bland taste.  I think that if you added some kind of seasoning to the chicken, or even attempted a kind of BBQ chicken flavor, it would probably give this mac the kick that it's missing.

What is good at ROCKS?  Well, I didn't get to try too much while there, but the sweet potato fries sure tasted awesome.  Stop in for beer, catch a football game and order some sweet potato fries.  And if you want to attempt the fried mac and cheese option (sadly, I could only try one), let me know what you think!

Review: Disneyland's Cafe Orleans

Disneyland's Cafe Orleans
New Orleans Square, Disneyland

This post is a little belated, but I definitely remember this mac and cheese experience fairly well, because unfortunately it was rather disappointing.

One of my favorite parts of visiting Disneyland is eating all the amazing food.  On average, Disneyland and California Adventure boast some of the best dishes and snack foods around, so it ends up being about half the reason I fork out the money for a plane ticket.

Unfortunately, the mac and cheese option at Cafe Orleans, located in the New Orleans Square area of Disneyland, was not very delicious.  The flavor was pretty bland and the portion size was rather depressing, even for the adult sized.  I suppose they try to make up for it with some veggie additions.  But really, let's face it.  If someone's ordering a mac and cheese, they are probably not looking to have half of the dish be made up for with vegetables.  That's just my two cents.

If you do find yourself at Cafe Orleans, this might actually be one of the healthier options, which makes me laugh.  For something really memorable and delicious, try the beignets, or if you are really hungry the Monte Cristo, which is basically a regular Monte Cristo but with beignet style fried bread.  AH-MAZING.