HOMEROOM (Oakland, CA) – It only took me a million years, but I finally made it out to Oakland to try Homeroom! It’s been on my list for a long time, and I really hoped it lived up to the hype. And it did. I headed out there on a Saturday afternoon, and hoped that the line wouldn’t be too long. I know they have hundreds of Yelp reviews and lines out the door. The restaurant itself, of course, is not very large, so a wait is to be expected.
There are a few tables outside, in addition to several tables inside, including communal tables. We got there and put our name on the list, and sat on one of the benches outside of the restaurant. It was a really warm day (considering it was February – yes, this is how long ago I went), so it was pleasant enough to sit outside. The area feels a little random since there businesses in the area, but if you walk down several blocks, more restaurants are scatted throughout the area. Around the corner is Homeroom To Go, where you can pick up orders of awesome mac and cheese to take home! I only wish I lived closer to do so.
The wait took may about 15 to 20 minutes. We were seated in the middle of the restaurant and got a nice view of their fun, quirky décor and the awesome chalkboard wall. I really loved the hand drawn map of California! If you look closely, all of the little doodles are the different industries in the different counties. It’s super cute. Our waitress was more than happy to help us decide what to get. There’s a good variety of macaroni and cheeses, so it was a little hard to choose.
In the meantime, to help alleviate our hunger, we ordered homemade buttermilk biscuits, which are served with honey butter. It sounded like a good complement to our mac and cheese, and the biscuits were warm and fresh. The biscuit was surprisingly fluffy even though it didn’t look that thick and you could spread the butter into all of those nooks and crannies. I also ordered the Arnold Palmer, since I’m big fan of the iced tea-lemonade combo. Homeroom had a unique spin on it, by combining it with what tasted like a lavender iced tea and limeade. I ended up really liking it, and I’m not a big fan of floral flavors. I love the gradient of the colors before you mix the drinks together.
At a restaurant devoted to macaroni and cheese, choosing which mac n’ cheese to get is a tough decision. Eventually, we settled on two, well-rounded options that we could both sample. Because, that’s the the smart way to eat at a new place.
Above is the Gilroy Mac. It’s considered the best-seller, and you can’t go wrong with a reputation like that. I immediately knew it had to be garlicky, and was not disappointed. This macaroni and cheese features creamy gouda, sharp pecorino and just the right amount of roasted garlic. You can taste the smokiness of the gouda and the saltiness of the pecorino, and the garlic really brings all of the flavors together. It’s packed with garlic but doesn’t feel like you’re eating a plate of raw garlic cloves. I am personally a huge fan of garlic, and this was really addicting yet comforting.
I ordered the Mac the Goat. First off, it has an awesome name. That partially already sold me. But what’s in it is what cinched the deal: rich and tangy fresh chevre, sliced scallions, served with crispy breadcrumbs and drizzled with olive oil.
One of my friend’s mom makes bomb mac n’ cheese with breadcrumbs, and since I’ve had hers years ago, I prefer to have my macaroni and cheese that way. Combined with creamy goat cheese and scallions, this was awesome. I love the tang of goat cheese and I’m a big fan of the milder flavor of scallions , so there were a bunch of exciting flavors and textures going on when combined with crunchy, toasted breadcrumbs.
Also, since these plates of mac n’ cheese were ginormous, we naturally packed them to go. They hold really well as leftovers, once you heat them up a little bit. I easily ate these for a couple of meals, so the ~$10 price tag per entree is worth it.