mac and cheese in the homeroom 510

by foodhoe on February 21, 2011

400 40th street, oakland 94609 | 510.597.0400 | website | twitter

Last week I had the best time lunching at a brand new mac and cheese restaurant in Oakland.  First of all, I was invited to join Cathy who writes the brilliant gas.tron.o.my blog, and her astronomer Vern, who were up visting from SoCal.  Secondly, who can resist the allure of a restaurant that aims to explore the many variations of mac and cheese which I might add, was opened by Allison Arevalo, a local food blogger who writes the delectably intriguing local lemons.  Third, I escaped from work for a three hour lunch. ’nuff said.  I love the name.  Homeroom certainly brings back memories of grade school and the first thing that caught my eye when I walked into the restaurant was the blackboard on the back wall with a map of California pointing out where their local artisinal cheeses come from, along with the locations of other vendors.

It’s a lovely spot, with lots of cool details like this chandelier and most of it was made by hand.  You can read all about the efforts involved in launching the restaurant on their website.  The handmade succulent wall is gorgeous, teeming with hundreds of tiny multihued plants all leaning towards the front window and the sun.

The menu is short, but I still found it hard to decide with so many delicious sounding combinations of mac and cheese.  The three that we tried were all very good, and I’ll say that the Trailer Mac is excellent. There are also farmer’s market salads, simple vegetable sides, craft beers, local wine and desserts like homemade Oreo cookies and peanut butter pie.

Homemade Root Beer using Mr. S’s secret recipe ($2.5O) was a light caramel color and tasted more like cream soda than rootbeer.

I was unable to resist the Trailer Mac ($8.5O), the allure of the title got me, but also the addition of Prather Ranch hot dog and crushed potato chip topping was like a dream come true…  The pasta was a tangle of thick corkscrew shaped noodles that were toothsome and chewy and so good with the crispy bits of potato chips.  The bites of hotdog were just the right size too.

Cathy ordered the Bacon, Egg and Cheese ($9) made with extra-sharp cheddar, Star Meat’s house-cured bacon, the same curly pasta, topped with a runny fried egg and buttery breadcrumbs.

The whites did seem a bit leathery, but the golden yolk was gloriously runny and added its glossy rich sheen to the velvety texture of the cheese coated pasta, which was deeply infused by the generous bits of smoky bacon throughout.

The astronomer had The Exchange Student: Cacio e Pepe ($7.5O), which translates to cheese and pepper.  The cheese was sharp pecorino from Italy mixed with cracked black peppercorns.  The exchange student reference means that is a dish where the chefs experiment with cheeses from across the sea, and while it was simple and delicious, it seemed plain without the addition of bacon or hot dogs to me…

Broccoli with homemade ranch dressing ($3) was simply boiled.

Broccoli is the perfect vehicle for dips because it presents so many nooks and crannies that really sucks in a lot.

The home made ranch dressing was delicious, and here is Cathy diligently blotting out the excess moisture from the broccoli, which she thought reduced the impact of the kickass dip.  I agreed, but was too busy eating and taking pictures, but I’m sure her broccoli tasted better than mine…

The Roasted Carrots ($3) were not hot and I would have liked them more if they had been cooked more vigorously to develop caramelization.  Melted butter too.  But at the same time, they weren’t overcooked or mushy.

I noticed that the Homemade Oreos ($1.50 ea) were almost gone and bought the remaining two.  The cookies were soft, which were a bit of a dissapointment… I’m just saying!

The gastronomer and I shared the Creamy peanut butter pie with graham cracker crust ($4).  It was rich and fluffy, sweet and salty and I loved the buttery graham cracker crust.

I was so mad about that fluffy peanut buttery custard that I tried a dollop on the cookie, which was altogether too sweet… but I would absolutely adore it if they were filled with the peanut butter custard!

A shot of the hard working kitchen crew…  I believe that is Allison on the far left side supervising.

The restaurant is surrounded by glass walls which gives it a bright and airy feeling and is located slightly off the beaten track.  I found street parking to be pretty easy, despite the fact that there was a long line going out the front door.  I was somewhat surprised to find it so busy, especially considering that it is not downtown and that it was the opening week.  Word had certainly gotten around.  Congratulations to the homeroom crew, we loved our mac and cheese!  Thanks Cathy and Vern for pointing me to this most awesome spot!

Prominently displayed along the waiting line is an old fashioned vintage card cabinet from the library where you can store your frequent diner cards.  Once you have ten gold stars (I think you get one star for each mac and cheese ordered), you get a prize!

Homeroom 510 Mac & Cheese on Urbanspoon

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa February 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm

A nice place! I love that Mac & cheese and the PB Cream Pie. Terrific!

Cheers,

Rosa

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Single Guy Ben February 22, 2011 at 9:27 am

Oh, this is really close to my home but I don’t know if I can ever visit since my cholesterol will probably go off the charts eating all those cheese. But it does look fun and creative. I like the whole school theme even with the gold stars! (So funny you put your card under Foodhoe, LOL) And wow, I was wondering how you got there for lunch and then you noted it was a 3-hour lunch. You go!

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Bonnibella February 22, 2011 at 6:40 pm

How fun! I did not know it was opened by a local blogger, more of a reason to support the place. I really like the theme and the “trailer” mac name.

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cathy chaplin February 23, 2011 at 4:36 pm

It was glorious lunching with you, Foodhoe!! Sending you a big hug from L.A.

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grace February 24, 2011 at 1:24 am

oh my. this sounds like one heck of a place! love the busted yolk, love the peanut butter pie. i’d be eating here on a weekly basis if i were you. 🙂

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