As one might guess from the mere existence of this blog, I was mighty excited to hear that the mac n’ cheese restaurant, Homeroom, opening in Oakland that would include —yes!— a vegan option! Thank you Mac and Cheese Gods! Your genorosity does not go unnoticed.
I made plans with a few friends to meet there on the Saturday afternoon of opening week. I had heard through the grapevine that it had been crowded, but I was not at all prepared to see about 15 people waiting in front of the restaurant for tables. I mean, mac and cheeze is the greatest food ever, obviously, but really? I used our eternal wait as an opportunity to take a picture.
Our group of 7 could only be seated at one table in the entire place; it was a communal table with multiple parties in various stages of the dining process and most of the patrons looked like they were in it for the long haul. After about 20 minutes of waiting and no end in sight we gave up and decided to get our food to-go and eat on the sidewalk. Not ideal, but it was warm enough out that I couldn’t complain…too loudly.
To start things off I ordered a limemade Arnold Palmer. This is very significant because if mac n’ cheeze is the Noochy Noodle’s favorite food (and it certainly is!) than an Arnold Palmer is the Noochy Noodle’s favorite drink. Not that I’m going to go start a blog about it, or anything. Homeroom also boasts house made root beer, and a large wine and beer selection.
Limemade Arnold Palmer
Everyone in our group ordered the very appropriately named Vegan, which comes with crushed walnuts on top. A few people went the gluten free noodle route, and Alex, (this is the significant other I always talk about) who is allergic to walnuts, subbed them out for crushed potato chips which usually comes on the Trailer Mac.
Vegan with Walnut Topping
There were mixed feelings among the group. No one could quite figure out what the cheese sauce was made of, and we spent our eating time figuring out the secret formula. My thoughts were that they used tofu, maybe a little bit of nutritional yeast, but definitely not a significant amount, and paprika and onion powder. The sauce was mellow, creamy, and really tasty. Congratulations, Homeroom, you get a place on my top 5 list of restaurants with great mac n’ cheeze! One caveat being that I wasn’t a fan of the walnut topping. I expected them to be ground finer, not gigantic chunks of nuts. They just got in the way of me enjoying my noodles and cheese sauce instead of playing a supporting role like any good topping should.
Alex, on the other hand, was quite happy with his potato chips. I certainly agree that it was yummy, and made me feel like I was eating some sort of delicious vegan-ized Paula Dean concoction. Next visit I will be subbing the walnuts for potato chips; people with life-threatening allergies don’t get to have all the fun!
Vegan with Potato Chip Topping
Besides the wait, eating on the sidewalk out of ugly cardboard containers, and the walnuts, I had a great experience. We even got some free drinks from the nice and apologetic staff, awesome! I thought the mac n’ cheeze was delicious and I would absolutely want to eat there again if I was in the neighborhood, or had another mac n’ cheeze loving friend to entertain (be my friend readers! we will have noodle-y adventures together!), but at $8.50 just for pasta and sauce with no options for sides, desserts, or more interesting entree mix-ins makes it hard to justify the trip across the bay and potential never-ending wait. Personally, I vote for some vegan versions of other menu items, like the Trailer Mac. All you need are veggie dogs! Or how about a Mexican Mac with some Soyrizo? Minus the cilantro, of course, because cilantro is the stuff of EVIL.