Restaurants

Mac & Cheese Night #4: Homeroom

My 4th Mac & Cheese Night took place at the East Bay’s prime mac & cheese destination along 40th Street in Oakland: Homeroom.

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Nearly every time I’ve mentioned my mac & cheese quest, I’ve been interrupted by an excited new acquaintance asking if I’ve tried Homeroom yet. Finally, FINALLY, I can say yes when asked.

Schoolroom décor in keeping with their name. I approve.

Schoolroom décor in keeping with their name. I approve.

Homeroom is owned by a pair of friends with a passion for comfort food, Allison Arevalo and Erin Wade, who also happen to both be pregnant with their second children right now, which I found out from reading an article about their planned expansion for Homeroom in the fall. That expansion will be geared toward meeting their to-go and large party needs, which are big contributors to the constant wait times at the midsize restaurant.

Well…the fall is not now, so our party of six was prepared for those long wait times at 8 on a Friday night. I had to laugh when I signed us in and asked the host if we would fit—there are not many tables available for more than four people. “Oh, no problem,” he said, quickly followed by a snarky, “but it’ll be a minute.” I knew a minute would be a lot longer than that and it took over an hour. At least owner Erin made the rounds of waiting customers, offering water. Much appreciated!

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Mac & Cheese Night #3: The Tipsy Pig

It’s only a few days until Mac & Cheese Night #4, and I’m just now getting the write-up done for Night #3—it’s been that sort of month, y’all. You’d think I’d be tiring of all that pasta, cheese, and sauce by now, but frankly, I want more comfort food bliss.

Night #3 was our biggest group yet, and it took place at the Inner Marina’s local gastropub, the Tipsy Pig.

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This is definitely an in-demand spot, but unlike so many others of its ilk, the Tipsy Pig actually takes reservations and has thus earned my gratitude. I’m so much happier when I can be assured I’ll get a table before I go to a restaurant, especially when that involves trekking across the Bay, as it often does.

The overall feel of the place is kitschy English pub…with a backyard full of frat boys.

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The crowd around the bar.

The crowd around the bar.

Front of the house.

Front of the house.

I found it cozy, and of course, the company was good. Menu focus is subtly playful takes on standard menu items at most American pubs these days: tartare, ribs, sliders, risotto, burgers, and of course, mac & cheese. Some of my companions found those takes too subtle, but that does not apply to the mac & cheese.

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Let’s start there, shall we? The Tipsy Pig’s mac & cheese revels in the complement of bacon, from the crumbles mixed in to the cheese sauce cooked in bacon fat.

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Mirchi

One of my friends is a police officer in Fremont, and thus he knows all the awesome hole-in-the-wall spots to grab a bite in his precinct. Mirchi is one of those, and I’ve joined him twice for lunch there now. It’s located at the end of a small strip of shops, so you may pass it by without knowing it’s the treasure you seek.

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Especially as it’s all the way at the far end of that row.

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I made a special trip this time just to try their chicken and waffles, which my friend loves and they did not have available the first time I went. Chicken and waffles is a peculiar combination for some diners, and Mirchi adds another element to it, upping the novelty factor. That element is their house blend of Pakistani spices, which makes this a Southern-Pakistani fusion plate that waves a red flag in front of this stomach-charging bull.

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See, my metaphor isn’t that belabored. The fried chicken coating is red! $9.49 buys you the meal, which includes a freshly cooked Belgian waffle and steaming fried pieces of chicken—a wing, a drumstick, and a giant round ball that I’m going to call a thigh but has way more meat than any thigh I’m used to. Expect the chicken and waffles to take a bit of time—you want it served fresh off the iron and griddle, right?–and you can call ahead if you’re in a rush. Like I said, my friend’s a police officer, so he’s always in a rush and knows the tricks.

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