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3 June, 2014

Mac & Cheese Night at Mission Cheese

Comments : 4 Posted in : Dining in San Francisco - CA, Restaurants on by : The Gourmez

A few months ago, I came across 7×7’s list of the best macaroni and cheeses in the Bay Area. I’d been looking for a good excuse to try a new restaurant each month with friends, and what better excuse is there than sampling mac & cheese? I dare you to come up with one…and if you do, that’ll be my new excuse once I work my way through this list.

Our first night was at Mission Cheese (736 Valencia, San Francisco), a cheese-based restaurant in the Mission—obviously, they approach naming with laser-like precision.

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It’s a busy spot on a Friday night, and you may find yourself waiting a while for one of the few tables after you place your order. But in pursuit of great mac & cheese, sometimes you must make sacrifices of convenience.

Go on, cram in with us at the corner of the bar!

Go on, cram in with us at the corner of the bar!

Consider this your introduction to my mac & cheese rating guide. I’ll fill it out for each mac & cheese we sample.

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Price: $10, reasonable to me for the size.

Cheese: Cloth-bound cheddar and washed rind cow’s milk cheeses. I didn’t ask particulars. It was too crowded and loud for that.

Creamy vs. Stringy: A blend! Technically, I’d call this a stringy mac & cheese. While there may be a little bit of a cream sauce coating the noodles, I think it’s much closer to simple melted cheese. But the cow’s milk cheese melted so completely that it gave the dish the impression of a creamy one regardless.

Noodles: Large, ridged, elbow macaroni. Not sure they were the best choice, as they may have contributed to the initial dryness of the dish. Al dente.

Breadcrumbs: Nice and toasty.

Grease: An acceptable sheen remained in the empty skillet. Enough to know you’ve eaten well but not so much to make you feel bad about it.

Verdict: This is a great mac & cheese, and what made it stand out the most was its pepper kick. That’s right, it was spicy! I believe it was only from a heavy dose of black pepper, but pepper was the aftertaste in every bite. Otherwise, it was too dry on top, but the cow’s milk cheese did its work, making it luscious the farther down we went.

Of course, we tried out more than the mac & cheese at Mission Cheese. We couldn’t help ourselves. There was so much cheese! And at a restaurant that takes the time to create sheeps out of the names of cheeses for decoration—

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—you know they’ve taken care in shaping their cheese plates.

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Dried fruit (figs, apricots, cherries), baguette slices, and gherkins come with each order, and they were all fine quality, as were the cheese options.

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They offer two flights: one of three regional cheeses and one of three cheesemonger favorites. Like I mentioned earlier, it was really loud and crowded, so I failed to record the individual cheese names, but the blue one at the forefront of that picture was a favorite as was an individual cheese the shop had wonderfully paired with a canned apple cider.

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That cheese reminded me of Humboldt Fog in flavor though it wasn’t a goat cheese, closer to a brie, and mellower overall.

Mission Cheese also offers sandwiches and charcuterie, and my husband had the pork and cheese sandwich made with Gruyere Surchoix, Framani salami, gherkins, and mustard.

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I didn’t try it, but he was happy. He also claimed he didn’t want the mac & cheese but did end up finishing the last few bites, let the record show.

Thanks to everyone who came out for Mac & Cheese Night #1! Now which one to choose for June….

Reviewed 23 May 14.

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