Mac and Cheese Week
Mac 'N' Cheese week in Montreal North America’s favorite comfort food
March 16th 2015 marked the end of the inaugural week-long festival in Montreal of North America’s favorite comfort food: Mac & Cheese!
In recent years, Montrealers have been treated to several mouth watering food festivals such as Burger Week and Poutine Week that have gained much notoriety among foodies and locals alike. March 16th 2015 marked the end of the inaugural week-long festival in Montreal of North America’s favorite comfort food: Mac & Cheese!
A festival created by restaurants, for restaurants. The event has been organized by Le Cheese with event co-host, L’Gros Luxe and official media partner Nudabite. Taking the traditional dish to new heights, ten Montreal restaurants, food trucks and local bars offered their best versions of savory, creamy and cheese filled Macs to thousands of visitors from both near and far.
I willingly sacrificed my stomach to try as many of the Macs as possible. Participating restaurants included event hosts Le Cheese and L’Gros Luxe (on Bernard and Saint Andre), Diablos, Burger Royal, Dirty Dogs, Pierre et Pierre, SUWU, Evoo and Dinette Triple Crown.
Here below (in no particular order of preference) are some of my personal favorites that stood out in terms of taste and innovation:
Le Cheese 5976 Av de Monkland, Montréal, QC H4A 1G8
As one on the main event hosts, Le Cheese is one of the pioneers in the Mac & Cheese business. Their food truck won MTLblog’s #1 reader-voted food truck in 2014.
Their Mac is an upgraded version of their regular menu offering that comes with a slightly tangy meatball marinara sauce, cheese curds, peas, cauliflower and optional bacon. The whole is served in a cute Asian style take out box. I liked how Le Cheese’s new take out counter and restaurant was brightly decorated in various Mac & Cheese inspired deco that really set the mood for the festival.
Genevieve PM Roy
Dinette Triple Crown. 6704 Rue Clark, Montréal, QC H2S 3E9
This Classic, Southern Appalachian Mountain style restaurant has gained quite a reputation for their tasty fried chicken and their unique concept of lending picnic baskets to their customers so that they might conveniently eat in the adjoining park. The owner, Nicole was proud to show me the wood work completed by her dad who built the solid dining tables gracing their main room:
Dinette Triple Crown
The restaurant offers several homemade Tabasco sauces, spiced drinks and seasonal desserts. I loved their iced ginger beer and my friend liked their Habanero Tabasco sauce that complimented their Mac & Cheese dish: a solid plate of IPA drenched macaronis au gratin loaded with 4 year old Quebec cheddar and cheese curds. Yum !
Dinette Triple Crown
Burger Royal 3820 Boul St-Laurent, Montréal, QC H2W 1X6
This restaurant certainly lives up to its reputation for offering North American comfort food at its best! Nestled centrally on St Laurent Boulevard, the restaurant is almost always packed with customers and is a favorite dining destination for families on weekend.
With their new Mac Bolognese, the owner Sami explained that he always had an affinity for Italian cuisine and wanted to combine fresh farm meat and macaroni. Their in-house ground meat is antibiotic free and comes from a small farm in the South of Montreal in the Canton de l’Est region. He further explained that he wanted people to see that it is possible to have a genuine farm to table experience by working with local farmers and using local produce. His Mac Bolognese definitely measured up to the ' saveur Quebecoise'
I loved the texture of the creamy homemade Bolognese and Béchamel sauce and was thrilled with the amount of Monterey Jack, Emmental Swiss, one year old cheddar and overall smoked raclette that gave a nice smokey undertone to the whole dish that was topped with crispy breadcrumbs and bacon!
Suwu 3581 Boul St-Laurent, Montréal, QC H2X 2T6
This local neighborhood rustic bar, that just celebrated its second year, turns into a swanky hip hop eatery at night. Their Classic American \ Canadian version of their Mac and Cheese dish was filled with cheese curds, Velvetta processed cheese and orange cheddar.
Although I loved the proportions size, creamy texture and general overall presentation of the dish, (served in a pot atop a bread board), I would have to say that taste wise, the overall mixture would have been a little too homogeneous, if not for their delicious homemade ketchup and chives that added just enough sour taste to tickle my taste buds.
Diablos 3619 St-Laurent Blvd
This classic southern BBQ restaurant brings a bit of a twist to the traditional concept of a saloon smokehouse. Meat lovers find their haven with their finest regular selection of southern smoked meat, pork ribs, brisket, beef ribs, chicken, fish and a collection of game meat.
The owner Jason Joyal's creation was inspired by the salon diner decor and menu: Their Mac & Cheese skillet portion of their classic dish is a hefty blend of Parmesan and Emmental cheese, 35% cream and topped with chorizo sausage!
Mac and Cheese fans will rejoice: Their competition entry is available year round in both entrée and main meal portions.
L’Gros Luxe : Two locations : 3807 Rue Saint-André, Montréal, QC H2L 3V9
150 Rue Bernard Ouest, Montréal, QC H2T 2K2
Event co-host L’Gros Luxe entered both their Mile End and Plateau, price friendly, local diners into the festival. The owner Tamar, sat down with me and explained that they wished to cater to a vegetarian crowd and that their delicious entry to Mac & Cheese week was based on a reduction of French onion soup that would include all the ingredients you would think of adding to your bowl; onions, croutons, Béchamel cream sauce and an abundant mix of Cheddar and Swiss cheese... Divine ~
The diner is quite popular among the younger crowd who come to feast on their regular menu offering of fish and meat tacos as well as their specialty grill cheese.
For Mac & Cheese week alone, their Plateau location sold over 500 orders!
For those living closer to the border, they will be opening a new branch in April 2015 in Longueuil,South Shore.