Homeroom: Mac + Cheese

Homeroom
400 40th Street
Oakland, CA 94609

Homeroom To Go
4007 Webster Street
Oakland, CA 94609

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11:00AM – 10:00PM (Closed on Mondays)

On the corner of 40th and Shafter in Oakland, you will find a small eatery called Homeroom which specializes in macaroni and cheese. I was going to a concert at the Fox Theater later that night (shout out to Purity Ring , what an awesome show) and wanted to grab a bite before the show. Around 6:00PM, there were only two parties in front of our group of three when I wrote my name on the sign-in list. On that list, you can also specify if you want to sit outside or if you don’t mind dining at the communal table. Make sure your entire party is here or else they won’t seat you. All’s fair, it’s a high demand! During our 5-10 minute wait, we lingered around the block and saw kids drawing on the sidewalk with chalk provided by the restaurant. I was beginning to see the schoolyard “homeroom-y” environment of Homeroom. The restaurant itself has large surrounding windows that gave the place a bright open air feel. The double doors are left open and the sidewalk was only steps away from our front and center table.

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The warm weather called for some cold drinks so we ordered fresh limeade and iced teas to sip on while making the tough decision of which creative macaroni and cheese choice we wanted. Good thing there were three of us, we agreed to all order different ones and share.

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Roasted Asparagus // drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette

This was their seasonal side dish. Aside from the macaroni and cheese, I wanted to try one of their vegetable side dishes as well. The asparagus were cooked perfectly, nicely roasted while still maintaining a firm and crunchy texture. The balsamic vinaigrette gave the dish a good tangy flavor.

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Okay, let’s get to the macaroni and cheese!

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Hawaiian Mac // Creamy havarti cheese, bacon, scallions, and roasted pineapple

If you are a fan of Hawaiian pizza, this macaroni and cheese is for you. The sweet pineapple chunks give a nice contrast to the salty bacon and cuts the creaminess of the cheese. The only thing that could have made the dish better was if the pineapple chunks were a little smaller so that the sweet flavor can be more evenly dispersed. You can add breadcrumbs to any of the macs for an extra $0.75,and I definitely recommend that you do. It gives the macaroni a nice crust and adds crunch to a overall softer texture of the dish.

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Buffalo Chicken // Grilled chicken, sharp cheddar, scallions, spicy buffalo sauce, breadcrumbs, and homemade ranch

This dish encompasses all the aspects of the traditional buffalo wing. The ranch drizzled on top gives a cool and creamy contrast to the tangy and spicy flavors. Although I love buffalo wings, the texture of this dish isn’t quite what I like my macaroni and cheese to be. The cheese was like a sauce and was a bit too runny. I was missing the thick gooey stringy cheese. I enjoyed the first few bites, but the dish got a little too monotone in flavors.

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Gilroy Garlic // Creamy gouda, sharp pecorino, and just the right amount of garlic

This creamy and garlicky mac was my favorite out of the three. We added breadcrumbs and bacon, which gave the dish texture and a more savory flavor. The list of add-ons include various vegetables, meats, and other toppings like potato chips. Their claim was right, there was just the right amount of garlic. Unlike the buffalo chicken mac, the cheese was less like a sauce and more gooey. I can tell why this dish is their best-seller!

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I would definitely come back here to try the other flavors of macaroni and cheese and hopefully have room to try their homemade desserts. We left Homeroom around 7:00 PM with our box of leftovers and were glad that we came at the right time as we saw the significant difference in the size of the crowd. Going during the earlier part of dinner time would also guarantee you a decent street parking spot only one or two blocks away from the restaurant. Homeroom also does to-go and party tray orders that can be picked up at Homeroom To Go down the block. Not feeling like driving to Oakland for some Homeroom goodies? They also have their “The Mac + Cheese” cookbook if you want to make your favorite Homeroom dishes in your own kitchen.

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Homeroom gives diners a friendly reminder of the young and carefree years with not only the childhood comfort food, but also with the wooden classroom-like tables, colorful chalkboard wall, clipboard check holders, and the small paper airplane detail on the restaurant logo. If only elementary school gave us fancy macaroni and cheese meals everyday…I guess there’s no place like Home(room).

Happy eating!

– Gina

 

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