24 November, 2014
Mac and Cheese Night #6: ParagonComments : 1 Posted in : Dining in San Francisco, CA, Restaurants on by : The Gourmez
For my sixth Mac and Cheese Night, the husband and I went a little upscale, heading to Paragon right outside AT&T Park.
That picture reminds me that I wish we’d sat outside, but I had suspected it would get chilly so outside seemed the less desirable option. But it never did get chilly, and inside, the paraffin-oil fueled candles did not provide a pleasing smell. Despite that small annoyance, I liked the interior lighting and the simple, earthy décor of reclaimed barn wood and ceramic tiles on the walls.
The mac and cheese is considered a side dish at Paragon, which is probably its biggest plus for me as I wasn’t overwhelmed by massive quantities to consume.
Price: For $7, that also makes this mac and cheese the most affordable yet on the list.
Cheese: White cheddar and parmesan made up the blend, with perhaps a too-restrained use of rosemary adding another subtle layer of flavor. The grittiness of the parmesan was this dish’s best feature.
Creamy vs. Stringy: It weighs in squarely on the stringy side, a welcome change from the rest of the sauce-heavy mac and cheeses I’ve sampled. There was a little bit of cream involved.
Noodles: Standard elbow macaroni cooked past al dente. What I’ve learned from my explorations is that past al dente is generally a good thing for mac and cheeses.
Breadcrumbs: Very fine crumbs attractively toasted on top of the dish.
Grease: Oh, this one was rather greasy throughout. Too much? I sigh to say it, but yes, yes, it was.
Verdict: The dish would be much, much better if it didn’t suffer from a fatal flaw: the mini cast-iron casserole dish it was served in. Such dishes always lend a rustic feel, which can be fun, but it added too much of itself in this case. The mac and cheese exhibited a strong taste of iron that never went away. Maybe a bolder cheese could have stood up to that, but this one did not.
Although, I was not impressed by Night #6’s mac and cheese, I was quite happy with its size and I loved the brussel sprouts side I ordered with it.
They were beautifully roasted, and the bacon vinaigrette they were tossed in was light and amplified the vegetables’ natural flavors. Yes, I love brussel sprouts. No, I am not ashamed.
Dinner was washed down with a jar of spiced apple sangria.
I know, I know, another beverage served in a mason jar. I’m beginning to think I have to accept that mason jars are the new glassware standard. Maybe it’ll work if I remind myself that plain-old boring pint glasses are just that. Plain, old, and boring. And least mason jars provide bevels to keep my fingers entertained. That’s an improvement, right? I’m trying to embrace the mason jar, I am.
Enough about the glass. The sangria was made with white wine, apples, ginger, cinnamon, and Sobieski vodka. It’s an easy sipper, perhaps too easy for $10. With the ginger kicked up a few notches, it could be an impressive drink but without it, it’s average.
Despite brussel sprouts that won my heart, Paragon served up my least favorite Mac and Cheese Night experience thus far. I should note that the mac and cheese was still good, but among its competitors, it just doesn’t rank.
I’m taking December off from mac and cheese—too many other heavy foods to tantalize me over the holidays! The next Mac and Cheese Night will be in January. As always, if you’d like to come along, shoot me an email or a tweet! All are welcome.
701 Second St
SoMa, San Francisco
Reviewed 8 November 2014.