Everyday Eats: Macaroni and Cheese at Cafe Chloe

Cafe Chloe's mac and cheese captures three cheesy textures in one decadent dish.

Whether or not it's the "most wonderful time of the year" is debatable -- flu season and fretful holiday shopping don't top my list of favorite things -- but besides time away from work, one benefit of the holiday season is the food: from gingerbread men dunked in eggnog lattes, to roasts and stews. And if you're taking a respite from calorie-counting between now and New Year's, it's the perfect time to dig into a dish of macaroni and cheese at Cafe Chloe.

The macaroni, pancetta, & bleu d’auvergne gratin ($13) achieves mac and cheese perfection. Oversized macaroni noodles are topped with a creamy bechamel made with bleu de auvergine, a cow's milk blue that's relatively mild, plus gruyere, fontina, and white cheddar cheese. The top layer gets crisp from being baked, while underneath, there are melty strands, and that thick, creamy sauce enrobing the noodles -- in short, three cheesy textures in one decadent dish. The blue brings a touch of saltiness, but its sharp qualities are tempered by the other cheeses, making it an accent, not the dominant flavor. 

Mixed in with the noodles are cubes of pancetta, which perk up the dish with sweet and smoky pops of pork. The portion is on the large size for lunch, but leftovers are almost as good after a quick re-heating (or right out of the to-go box). If you can broker a deal with your lunch date, add a small green salad and split the lot.

One tip: the mac is cooked fresh, so make sure you have time for a leisurely meal. It'll be worth the wait.

Cafe Chloe is located at 721 9th Ave (map). Lunch is served from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (7:30 on weekdays). 

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