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April 7, 2015 at 7:25am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Champion crowned

Boathouse 19 of Tacoma won the 2015 Weekly Volcano Tournament of Mac and Cheese. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

After three weeks of voting the Weekly Volcano readers have picked the most popular mac and cheese joint in the South Sound.

Yesterday's Tournament of Mac and Cheese Championship matched the romantic downtown Tacoma spot Over The Moon Cafe against the Narrows waterfront restaurant Boathouse 19. It was a battle that saw elbow-to-elbow online voting before dinnertime (5 p.m.) of the tournament, and then switched to the live ballot voting at 6 p.m. during the Tournament of Mac and Cheese Championship Game Party at McNamara's Pub and Eatery in DuPont. At the party, folks filled out mac and cheese voting ballots when they weren't pounding beers and screaming at the televisions. The mac and cheese voting couldn't help but take a backseat to the tight NCAA Men's Championship hoop game in which there were 16 lead changes, five ties and enough tension and pressure to choke on an elbow macaroni. In the end, however, Duke had the answer for every Wisconsin run and won 68-63, capturing their fifth national title in the program's history.

A large representation from Boathouse 19 were in the house, and were treated, as was the whole house, to two complimentary mac and cheese dishes, thanks to McNamara's Pub and Eatery.

Just like the previous five Weekly Volcano food tournaments, we tallied the in-house votes during the first half of the hoop game, and then added them to the day's online votes. The winner ended up with 65 percent of the online vote as well as secured a two-to-one vote ratio at McNamara's. At halftime, Weekly Volcano co-publisher Ken Swarner handed out raffle prizes, then announced the Tournament of Mac and Cheese winner:

Boathouse 19.

Both Tacoma mac and cheese joints will be receiving Tournament of Mac and Cheese trophies after completion of the engraving. Also, look for a feature on the Boathouse 19 in the April 16th of the Weekly Volcano.

So it's official: Boathouse 19 is the winner of Weekly Volcano's 2015 Tournament of Mac and Cheese. Eat it up, South Sound.

Thank you!

We would like to extend special THANKS! to BITE Restaurant and Bar at the Hotel Murano for sponsoring the Tournament of Mac and Cheese. The modern restaurant made it to the Final Four before falling to Over The Moon Cafe. BITE serves a damn tasty truffle mac and cheese.

Also a big thanks to McNamara's Pub and Eatery in DuPont for hosting our Tournament of Mac and Cheese Championship Game Party last night. Good times.

But, most of all, thanks to all the awesome folks who voted. You rock.

April 6, 2015 at 7:54am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Final vote and tonight's party

The Tournament of Mac and Cheese Championship game is on!

MONDAY, APRIL 6: CHAMPIONSHIP GAME >>>

The titanic mac and cheese throwdown finale in on! Voting for the 2015 Weekly Volcano Tournament of Mac and Cheese Readers' Poll Championship Game is live.

After three weeks of voting, you have picked the most popular mac and cheese joints in the South Sound area. What began as 64 elbow-slinging joints has been narrowed down to two: Over The Moon Cafe and Boathouse 19. Online voting will end at 5 p.m.

At 6 p.m. we'll hand out mac and cheese voting ballots at our Tournament of Mac and Cheese Championship Game Party inside McNamara's Pub and Eatery, 1595 Wilmington Dr., in DuPont. McNamara's will be broadcasting the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game on all its screens. Throughout the first half of the game we'll be handing our mac and cheese voting ballots for a final push of voting. At half time of the hoop game, we'll announce the winner of the 2015 Tournament of Mac and Cheese. Then there will be much rejoicing.

The daily mac and cheese battles here on Served in the South Sound are sponsored by BITE Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Murano.

Welcome to the big elbow and cheese dance.

Tournament of Mac and Cheese Championship Game

Over The Moon Café (709 Opera Alley, Tacoma) vs. Boathouse 19 (9001 S. 19th St., Tacoma)

Using penne pasta, Over the Moon Cafe takes the classic mac and cheese dish beyond comfort food. The base of rich cream sauce and Gruyere cheese has seen many co-stars over the years. You might remember fresh Roma tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts and sliced Portobello mushrooms, or huge chunks of butternut Squash, sage, sautéed shallots folded into a gorgeous, creamy sauce that isn't slick with grease, but accented with stringy Gruyere cheese. Topped with housemade croutons and Parmesan, Over the Moon Café's mac and cheese is a task to finish due to its size and richness.

Boathouse 19 serves elbow macaroni bathed in silky, three-cheesy goodness and served in a cast-iron pan. Maybe the secret to this mac and cheese greatness is the caramelized onion and huge chunks of ham. Maybe it's the thick blanket of panko, that is the perfect contrast rather than steel the show. Maybe it's the dish's fine balance of being cheesy and not cheesy, creamy but not creamy. No need to twist. No need for a spoon. Pepper jack, American and cheddar, blended all together.

CLICK HERE TO VOTE

Again, online voting will end at 5 p.m. Voting will resume at 6 p.m. live at the Tournament of Mac and Cheese Championship Game Party at McNamara's Pub and Eatery in DuPont.

Thanks again for voting.

April 4, 2015 at 8:00am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Championship Game set

Over The Moon Cafe will battle Boathouse 19 in the Tournament of Mac and Cheese Championship Game Monday, April 6.

SATIUDAY, APRIL 4: TWO LEFT BUBBLING >>>

Over the past three weeks, the Weekly Volcano challenged 64 of the South Sound's best mac and cheese serving joints to go elbow-to-elbow in a showdown of culinary combat. Some fell easily by the wayside, either faltered due to inferior skills or simply because they faced a superior opponent. Noodle by noodle, we ate our way down to yesterday's Final Four: Over The Moon Café, BITE, Engine House No. 9 and Boathouse 19. It was do-or-die, penne or macaroni, "They play for keeps 'cause they might not make it back" says Bon Jovi. After the last breadcrumb was spread, two restaurants fought their way from behind to face off Monday in the Championship game.

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: Over The Moon Café (709 Opera Alley, Tacoma) vs. BITE at Hotel Murano (1320 Broadway, Tacoma)

The Weekly Volcano Steno Pool called it the game of the tournament, which is hard to argue with four and two seed battling it out. When the last piece of pasta was eaten, and a come-from-behind run beginning at 5 p.m., Over The Moon Café grabbed 58 percent of the vote and moves on to Monday's championship game.

Game 2: Engine House No. 9 (611 N. Pine St., Tacoma) vs. Boathouse 19 (9001 S. 19th St., Tacoma)

Engine House No. 9 came into the Tournament of Mac and Cheese as a number 11 seed and kicked ass, which was the Tacoma restaurant and brewery's game plan yesterday, taking a commanding lead in the morning. At 3 p.m., with the help of their happy hour crowd, Boathouse 19 poured it on. The Tacoma waterfront restaurant began racking up votes in an eye-popping display of pasta perfection, even drawing folks from neighboring Narrows Brewing. When the final buzzer rang, Boathouse 19 stood alone with 74 percent of the vote, and a date with Over The Moon Café in the championship game Monday.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Championship Game:

Over The Moon Café

Boathouse 19

The daily mac and cheese battles here on Served in the South Sound are sponsored by BITE Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Murano.

Here we go. Over The Moon Café in Tacoma's Opera Alley will face Boathouse 19, the restaurant and bar perched over the Narrows waterway, Monday, April 6 when the polls open around 8 a.m. Online voting will run until 5 p.m. At 6 p.m., the voting will resume live at McNamara's Pub & Eatery in DuPont during the Official Tournament of Mac and Cheese Party. Ballots will be handed out. The live vote will close at halftime of the NCAA Men's Tournament final and the South Sound Mac and Cheese Champion will be announced.

This weekend, pack the car and eat mac and cheese at Over The Moon Café today and Boathouse 19 tomorrow, or vice versa. Compare notes with your neighbors. Then come Monday, vote here on the Served in the South Sound blog then join us at McNamara's Pub.

Thanks again for voting.

April 3, 2015 at 7:53am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Final Four today!

Tournament of Mac and Cheese Final Four is on. Vote now!

FRIDAY, APRIL 3: FINAL FOUR >>>

And then there were four. ...

Believe it or not, fine readers, there have been days during the Tournament of Mac and Cheese when, by noon or so, it was already obvious which mac and cheese-serving restaurants would be moving on and which would be going home. There were blowouts ... oh were there ever. Sometimes, it made my job a little easier; I could work on the next day's copy at a decent hour in the evening without fear the game would suddenly turn.

Oh, but yesterday was different. Yesterday, the votes just kept coming - from tipoff to the final buzzer. Three of the games were come-from-behind wins, and by wins I mean victories by a handful of votes. One was a dead heat with an hour left to vote.

The tournament began with 64 South Sound mac and cheese restaurants March 19. Today, four mac and cheese restaurants will face off for the ultimate glory - elbow to elbow battles to determine the best mac and cheese-serving restaurant in the South Sound. What four mac and cheese slinging joints will move onto the Final Four?

The drumroll please ...

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: Over The Moon Café (709 Opera Alley, Tacoma) vs. Eleven Eleven (1111 S. 11th St., Tacoma)

After mounting quite a tear through the Tournament of Mac and Cheese, a tear that - quite honestly - many weren't prepared for, Eleven Eleven's run came to a halt when it faced beloved Over The Moon Café yesterday. Hilltop's Eleven Eleven lead the entire day until five people somewhere in the world decided to vote during the final hour of the contest. With a one vote margin, Over The Moon Café and its fancy mac and cheese heads into the Final Four today.

Game 2: BITE at Hotel Murano (1320 Broadway, Tacoma) vs. Rosewood Café (3323 N. 26th St., Tacoma)

When first discussing the Tournament of Mac and Cheese, in editorial meetings that seem like they were many moons ago, Rosewood Café was mentioned almost immediately. The North Tacoma café has a following, and everyone knows it. The neighborhood hangout has fared well so far in the Tournament of Mac and Cheese, but yesterday - despite being locked in one hell of a close game all day - the Rosewood couldn't sustain the cheese. BITE Restaurant & Bar, embedded in the boutique Hotel Murano, turned up the chill music, placed another bellhop in the lobby and pushed their Ooo la la Lemon Drop cocktails. When the buzzer sounded, BITE had garnered 52 percent of the vote, and a spot in today's Final Four.

Game 3: Marrow Kitchen + Bar (2717 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. Engine House No. 9 (611 N. Pine St., Tacoma)

Engine House No. 9 has made a lot of friends in its 40-plus year history at Sixth and Pine. Yesterday, the Tacoma destination for craft beer and mac and cheese needed all of those friends to take down hip Marrow Kitchen + Bar, a number one seed and a bistro many had advancing all the way to the championship on their Tournament of Mac and Cheese brackets. With a two-vote margin win, 11th seed Engine House No. 9 advances to the Final Four.

Game 4: Boathouse 19 (9001 S. 19th St., Tacoma) vs. Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge (454 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma)

Number two seed Boathouse 19 has killed it so far in the Tournament of Mac and Cheese. That said, most prognosticators still assumed Boathouse 19 would go down when facing number one seed Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge. Surely, Maxwell's with its fancy digs and celebrity chef would have too much firepower for Boathouse 19, right? No so fast, my friend! Boathouse 19 maintained a solid 50-point lead all day. After taking a victory lap in their bad motor schooner, Boathouse 19 finally took a deep breath and soaked in their spot in today's Final Four.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Final Four:

Over The Moon Café

BITE Restaurant and Bar

Engine House No. 9

Boathouse 19

The daily mac and cheese battles here on Served in the South Sound are sponsored by BITE Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Murano.

OK, let's check out today's Final Four mac and cheese battles. Vote for one mac and cheese dish per battle. Voting for today's mac and cheese battles ends at 11:45 p.m.

Game 1: Over The Moon Café (709 Opera Alley, Tacoma) vs. BITE at Hotel Murano (1320 Broadway, Tacoma)

Inside Over The Moon Café you'll find black table linens, cozy colorful chairs and lighting that sets the mood perfect for date night or conversation over a glass of wine. A small lamp adorns your table alongside a collection of vintage hardback books, combined with the lighting and velvety seating you're enveloped in a gypsy-esque ambiance. Open for lunch and dinner, the menu is spattered with colorful salad options and tasty sandwiches during lunch that transition to artful fine dining worthy plates in the evening. The modern art zing of the Hotel Murano's décor is as entertaining as a People magazine cover story. Your eyes are pulled from left to right, up and down, catching equal parts fine art and whimsy. Upbeat chill music reverberates through the lobby, right up to the lobby bar. Their restaurant, BITE, is just as cool. Located on the fourth floor, the space drips with chic. Over The Moon Café and BITE both serve "adult" mac and cheese dishes - no elbow macaroni, no American cheese. Here we go! CLICK HERE TO VOTE

Game 2: Engine House No. 9 (611 N. Pine St., Tacoma) vs. Boathouse 19 (9001 S. 19th St., Tacoma)

On the other side of the bracket sits a scenario nobody could have predicted. Eleventh seed Engine House No. 9 and their "Tailgate" mac and cheese ran over Topside Bar and Grill, Paesan Kitchen and Mac N More to reach the Final Four. Impressive, to say the least. Number two seed Boathouse 19 and their balanced three-cheese mac and cheese motored over Red Robin, The Hub and Westside Tavern to face E9 today. Number vs. number. Firehouse theme vs. nautical. Li'l Smokies vs. caramelized onion and huge chunks of ham. Engine House No. 9 vs. Boathouse 19. I fully expect the Tacoma Emergency Network to be activated today. CLICK HERE TO VOTE

Log onto the Served in the South Sound blog tomorrow and discover which two restaurants will battle it out in the championship game Monday, April 6. The online voting will launch around 8 a.m. Monday morning, closing at 5 p.m. At 6 p.m., the voting will resume live at McNamara's Pub & Eatery in DuPont during the Official Tournament of Mac and Cheese Party. Our winner will be announced during halftime of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game.

April 2, 2015 at 7:54am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Baked Eight today!

Chef Hudson Slater of Maxwell's snapped a shot of his mac and cheese and posted it on Instagram. #tournamentofmacandcheese

THURSDAY, APRIL 2: BAKED EIGHT GAMES >>>

The Baked Eight is fully fleshed out: eight establishments that - according to our readers' votes - serve the best mac and cheese in the South Sound.

Yes, only eight out of an original 64 mac and cheese joints remain, each going to battle today to stay alive and fight on toward ultimate Tournament of Mac and Cheese glory. All the signs in the restaurants, the mass emailings to customers and friends, the mac and cheese phone trees have paid off for these eight mac and cheese slingers.

On to today's Tournament of Mac and Cheese Baked Eight action and yesterday's results.

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: Crown Bar (2705 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. Rosewood Café (3323 N. 26th St., Tacoma)

Despite a late push from Tacoma Sixth Avenue neighborhood hangout Crown Bar, the Rosewood Café and its large, devoted, strongly bicyclists and families following proved too powerful in yesterday's Tournament of Mac and Cheese action, easing into the Baked Eight with 57 percent of the votes. Rosewood Café is known for their four-cheese mac and cheese - a dish elevated with nutmeg and ground mustard. It's going to need every bit of the nutmeg when it takes on BITE Restaurant and Bar today.

Game 2: Eleven Eleven (1111 S. 11th St., Tacoma) vs. Steel Creek American Whiskey Co. (1114 Broadway, Tacoma)

Hilltop Tacoma's favorite sandwich and booze joint (at least based on Tournament of Mac and Cheese results) was able to fend off Steel Creek American Whiskey Co. yesterday and play their way into the Baked Eight. After an impressive run, western themed Steel Creek - even with a delicious lobster mac and cheese - couldn't saddle up again. With Eleven Eleven winning by just four votes, Steel Creek will also wonder if they should have added more cowbell.

Game 3: Engine House No. 9 (611 N. Pine St., Tacoma) vs. Mac N More (9323 Martin Way E., Lacey)

When business partners John Xitco and Jeff Paradise and their X Group Restaurants bought Engine House No. 9, they skipped reproducing many of the joint's recipes. Instead, they came up with new recipes, including a mac and cheese perfect for tailgating featuring Li'l Smokies and lots of cheese. It worked. Eleventh seed E9 pulled out a 71 percent victory over number two seed Mac N More in Lacey. That's huge.

Game 4: Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge (454 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma) vs. Top of Tacoma Bar and Café (3529 McKinley Ave. E., Tacoma)

The other close battle yesterday took place in Tacoma featuring two Weekly Volcano food tournament veterans - two joints that always win deep into the brackets. Maxwell's and Top of Tacoma battled back and forth all day, changing leads several times. It's our guess Maxwell's Chef Hudson Slater's beautiful Instagram shot of his mac and cheese was the deciding factor, edging out Top of Tacoma by nine votes.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Baked Eight:

Rosewood Cafe

Eleven Eleven

Engine House No. 9

Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge

The daily mac and cheese battles here on Served in the South Sound are sponsored by BITE Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Murano.

OK, let's check out today's Baked Eight mac and cheese battles. Vote for one mac and cheese dish per battle. Voting for today's mac and cheese battles ends at 11:45 p.m.

Today's Baked Eight Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: Over The Moon Café (709 Opera Alley, Tacoma) vs. Eleven Eleven (1111 S. 11th St., Tacoma)

Over The Moon Café meet Eleven Eleven. Eleven Eleven meet Over The Moon Café. It's quite possible these two have never met. There are worlds apart. Tranquil, cozy Over The Moon Café serves gourmet meals nestled in Tacoma's Opera Alley. Eleven Eleven raises their voices and their drinks on Hilltop Tacoma. Fancy cheese takes on classic cheese. All the media will flock to this game today. It has "Epic" written all over it. VOTE NOW!  

Game 2: BITE at Hotel Murano (1320 Broadway, Tacoma) vs. Rosewood Café (3323 N. 26th St., Tacoma)

BITE serves meaty orecchiette pasta fused together with a mix of melted white cheddar, ricotta and Parmesan. The pasta choice gives the dish even more personality, as well as acts as a reservoir for the creamy, white sauce. Baked crusty on top, the dish has a pleasant mix of textures and the perfect amount of pasta. It's served in a giant, hot bowl with a decidedly grown-up flair. As mentioned above, Rosewood Café serves a four-cheese mac and cheese - a dish elevated with nutmeg and ground mustard. Penne pasta provides a tender chew, the wide ends of the noodles slicked with cheese, which will have at least one string dangling from the fork. The shotgun-riding bread slices should be used to dig out the leftover cheese. It's fancy, modern BITE versus cozy, neighborhood Rosewood Café. VOTE NOW!

Game 3: Marrow Kitchen + Bar (2717 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. Engine House No. 9 (611 N. Pine St., Tacoma)

Marrow and Southern Kitchen was your grandfather's Sixth Avenue mac and cheese battle. Today is a different day, obviously. Number one seed Marrow burrows at 2717 Sixth Ave. Number 11 seed Engine House No. 9 is a few yards around the corner at 611 N. Pine N. Some would call this the Battle for Sixth Avenue. Others would not. These two restaurants serve vastly different versions of the American classic dish. E9's Tailgate Mac and Cheese is a creamy, workingman's take on the classic dish with Li'l Smokies and elbow macaroni. Marrow offers a more gourmet version, with creamy, cheesy béchamel sauce and pork belly or truffle mushrooms options - served in a baking pot. I fully expect to wake up in the morning and see Sixth Avenue coated with cheese. VOTE NOW!

Game 4: Boathouse 19 (9001 S. 19th St., Tacoma) vs. Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge (454 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma)

Next to the Narrows Marina, tucked behind the massive Narrows Brewing Co., sits Boathouse 19. It's a lovely spot. The waterfront restaurant's mac & cheese takes the afterschool snack and hangover helper to a whole new level. The three-cheese dish walks the fine line of being cheesy and not cheesy, creamy but not creamy. No need to twist a fork. No need for a spoon. Just right. Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge sits between Tacoma's Stadium District and downtown. You'll find no secret entrance, obscure protocol or whiff of illegality; you don't have to walk through a coat closet or trip down the stairs off an alley. But there is a sense of adventure every time you stumble into the dimly lit restaurant, styled after Prohibition lounges of days past. It's an ideal getaway spot for those yearning for excellent mac and cheese and a good drink away from rugrats. VOTE NOW!

Tomorrow's Mac and Cheese Battles: The Final Four

Eight South Sound mac and cheese joints go at it today for slots in the Final Four. Jump on the Served in the South Sound blog tomorrow to vote on the Final Four games.

Tournament of Mac and Cheese Championship Party

At 6 p.m. Monday, April 6, join us at McNamara's Pub & Eatery in DuPont for the Official Tournament of Mac and Cheese Party - our winner will be announced during halftime of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game.

April 1, 2015 at 7:16am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Cheesy 16 games

The Crown Bar's mac and cheese (pictured) battle the Rosewood Cafe's version in Tournament of Mac and Cheese action today. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1: CHEESY 16 GAMES >>>

The best mac and cheese in the South Sound? You think you know where to find it. We all do. After weeks of feverish voting (and with the help of a complicated computer program stolen from cavemen) we at the Weekly Volcano World Headquarters have watched you, beloved readers, narrow down the region's mac and cheese from 64 to the very best 16, the cream of the cheese. Yesterday, the first eight mac and cheese dishes did battle. Today, the remaining eight go at it.

Without further ado, let's take a gander at yesterday's results, and then preview today's matches. ...

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: STINK Cheese & Meat (628 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma) vs. Over The Moon Café (709 Opera Alley, Tacoma)

"R-E-S-P-E-C-T" is how the song goes, and that's just what Over The Moon Café has been earning so far in the Tournament of Mac and Cheese, knocking off Quickie Too and Harmon Brewing in earlier rounds. Yesterday, in the battle that knocked over their antique lamps and tabletop poetry books, Over The Moon Café proved they could go all the way. Even with an impressive evening push that closed the gap to 20 votes, STINK Cheese & Meat, deservingly a number one seed, with weekly gourmet mac and cheese specials, fell to neighboring Over The Moon Café. I wouldn't be surprised to see STINK owner Kris Blondin and Over The Moon owner Deanna Harris Bender hug it out at the corner of Seventh and Saint Helens Avenue today.

Game 2: Bar Bistro (1718 99th St. E., Tacoma) vs. BITE at Hotel Murano (1320 Broadway, Tacoma)

The Provenance Hotel group isn't messing around. The Portland-based boutique hotel collection phoned in psychological ploy for their Hotel Murano in downtown Tacoma to use in their battle with Bar Bistro yesterday. "Push our new free WiFi option and in-house pet psychologist," the team in Portland might have said. That they did, as well as turn up the upbeat chill music in the lobby and placed three mints on pillows instead of two. With the solid play from BITE Restaurant's meaty orecchiette pasta fused with a mix of melted white cheddar, ricotta and Parmesan, and the corporate suggestions, BITE was able to maintain a lead all day, capturing 61 percent of the votes over Bar Bistro's worthy mac and cheese, and a slot in tomorrow's Baked Eight competition. 

Game 3: Marrow Kitchen + Bar (2717 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. The Valley (1206 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma)

Marrow likes the narrow. The modern vegetarian, vegan and animal proteins bistro on Sixth Avenue is not a run-and-gun player. Rather Marrow will slow play their opponents, concentrating on their baked gourmet mac and cheese, then throwing a bunch of craft cocktails at them. They kept scrappy gritty The Valley within arms reach the entire game. Marrow knew golden boys Justin and Rob Peterson and their Valley could easily go on a run and take it. In perhaps the most hotly contested match of the tournament, Marrow, who trailed the entire game by a good margin, pulled it out seconds before the buzzer, winning by one vote. Marrow moves into the Baked Eight to take on the winner of today's Engine House No. 9 and Mac N More game.

Game 4: Westside Tavern (1815 Harrison Ave. NW, Olympia) vs. Boathouse 19 (9001 S. 19th St., Tacoma)

This game was a bit of a surprise. Yes, Boathouse 19 was seeded slightly higher and their cast iron, three-cheese macaroni and cheese with caramelized onion and huge chunks of ham is exceptional, but to beat Westside Tavern and their secret family cheese sauce and thousands of fans was a shocker. The other seven South Sound mac and cheese joints in tomorrow's Baked Eight need to sharpen their elbows because Boathouse 19 is the real deal. With 73 percent of the vote, the waterfront restaurant next to the Narrows Marina moves closer to the title.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Baked Eight:

Over The Moon Café

BITE at Hotel Murano

Marrow Kitchen + Bar

Boathouse 19

The daily mac and cheese battles here on Served in the South Sound are sponsored by BITE Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Murano.

OK, let's check out today's Cheesy 16 mac and cheese battles. Vote for one mac and cheese dish per battle. Voting for today's mac and cheese battles ends at 11:45 p.m.

Today's Cheesy 16 Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: Crown Bar (2705 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. Rosewood Café (3323 N. 26th St., Tacoma)

Tipping off the second day of Cheesy 16 games we have number eight seed Crown Bar, with its popular late-night street food and tasty cocktails, battling number four seed Rosewood, a Proctor District-ish neighborhood café popular with bicyclists and dogwalkers. Both businesses serve worthy mac and cheese dishes, and are well loved with the community, so rallying support won't be an issue. The real question is: will Rosewood Café be intimidated off the court at the sight of Crown Bar's lively clientele, or will the comfy feel café just tighten up the shoelaces and go to work? The votes will decide. VOTE HERE

Game 2: Eleven Eleven (1111 S. 11th St., Tacoma) vs. Steel Creek American Whiskey Co. (1114 Broadway, Tacoma)

Working class mac and cheese dishes face off in this Tournament of Mac and Cheese Cheesy 16 game, albeit one donning a cowboy hat. Steel Creek's lobster mac and cheese knows how to win against creative versions, beating Masa and Chambers Bay Grill. Can the country/western whiskey bar beat Eleven Eleven cheese-driven creation? Will Steel Creek grow quick beards to handle what 1111 beerdos Justin and Rob Peterson throw at them off the bench? Do you wish I'd stop asking questions and just allow you to vote? Do it!  VOTE HERE

Game 3: Engine House No. 9 (611 N. Pine St., Tacoma) vs. Mac N More (9323 Martin Way E., Lacey)

A good mac and cheese experience owes as much to the atmosphere as the actual elbows and cheese themselves. And what I have discovered in my travels is that firehouse equipment and beer club plaques in a restaurant usually signal that a mac and cheese feast of epic proportions is at hand. Be lucky enough to find a joint with a fire hose and, holy three-alarm, you're in for a treat. You'll be happy to know that Engine House No. 9 fulfills such criteria, as well as grabbing the "People's Choice" award at last weekend's Slider Cook-Off at the Museum of Glass. The Sixth Avenue neighborhood restaurant and bar will need every hose, every fire hat, every craft beer recipe from brewer Shane Johns to beat Mac N More, the Lacey house of mac and cheese. Truth is, I have pulled up a chair at the Lacey strip-mall eatery a dozen or so times since Steve and Katrina Cobb opened the mac and cheese centric restaurant in 2012. Steve, who has seen the world through a restaurant kitchen window while his wife, Katrina, served in the Army, tweaked his macaroni and cheese recipe during a 25-year journey. After tasting the famous macaroni and cheese at S'mac in New York City, and making the final adjustment, the Cobbs felt confident enough to open their own joint at the corner of Martin Way and Dutterow Road. And their recipes are freakin' delicious. VOTE HERE

Game 4: Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge (454 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma) vs. Top of Tacoma Bar and Café (3529 McKinley Ave. E., Tacoma)

I'm not sure how to describe this game. Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge vs. Top of Tacoma Bar and Café could end relationships, cause car title exchanges and fill the tattoo shops with sad faces. These two mac and cheese dishes are equally outstanding. Glad you're voting and not me. VOTE HERE

Tomorrow's Baked Eight Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: Over The Moon Café (709 Opera Alley, Tacoma) vs. winner of Eleven Eleven (1111 S. 11th St., Tacoma) vs. Steel Creek American Whiskey Co. (1114 Broadway, Tacoma)

Game 2: BITE at Hotel Murano (1320 Broadway, Tacoma) vs. winner of Crown Bar (2705 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. Rosewood Café (3323 N. 26th St., Tacoma)

Game 3: Marrow Kitchen + Bar (2717 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. winner of Engine House No. 9 (611 N. Pine St., Tacoma) vs. Mac N More (9323 Martin Way E., Lacey)

Game 4: Boathouse 19 (9001 S. 19th St., Tacoma) vs. winner of Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge (454 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma) vs. Top of Tacoma Bar and Café (3529 McKinley Ave. E., Tacoma)

At 6 p.m. Monday, April 6, join us at McNamara's Pub & Eatery in DuPont for the Official Tournament of Mac and Cheese Party - our winner will be announced during halftime of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game.

March 31, 2015 at 7:42am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: It's Cheesy 16 time!

The Valley's mac and cheese (pictured) battles Marrow Kitchen + Bar's version in Tournament of Mac and Cheese action today. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

TUESDAY, MARCH 31: CHEESY 16 BEGINS >>>

For the last two weeks I presented you with a compelling question: Who makes the best mac and cheese in the South Sound? And you have responded in droves. Sick days have been used. Friendships have fallen apart. Pasta delivery boys and cheese delivery girls are now living together - mass hysteria!

The competition has been whittled down to the Cheesy 16. Yes, 16 South Sound mac and cheese slingers are poised to make the final push to the Final Four, which will go down Friday.

So, read up on yesterday's action, and then vote on the first four games of the Cheesy 16. It's in your hands, mouth and stomach, folks!

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: Eleven Eleven (1111 S. 11th St., Tacoma) vs. Smoke + Cedar (2013 S. Cedar St., Tacoma)

Fans of This Is Spinal Tap will understand why Justin and Rob Peterson had to go Nigel Tufnel on Smoke + Cedar yesterday. The brothers had to follow the lead of the lame-brained rocker who had his amp's knobs specially made to go to 11, ostensibly giving him more sonic power than the ordinary scrubs whose volume maxed out at 10. The joke still works, even if today's music fans don't listen to devices with old-school knobs. Smoke + Cedar scores a 10 with owner Gordon Naccarato's version of the Augusta National pimento cheese recipe, spackled with panko, crumbled  "Ritzy" fire cracker crumbs and served in hot skillet. Yeah, I know. Amazing. The Eleven Eleven had to take their creamy, cavenetti mac and American/cheddar cheese concoction to an 11 to pull out a win, which they did. With 64 percent of the vote, the Hilltop Tacoma joint moves into the Cheesy 16 and Tacoma lore.

Game 2: Metropolitan Market (2420 N. Proctor St., Tacoma) vs. Rosewood Café (3323 N. 26th St., Tacoma)

The Prizefight for Proctor has past. The people are back in their homes watching their giant flat-screen TV that rise up out of the bedroom floor. The proper Proctor mac and cheese has been picked. The skirmish between Met Market and Rosewood Café was tight, in fact the tightest of the day. And, the quaint, little guy with the awesome mac and cheese prevailed. The Rosewood Café grabbed 56 percent of the vote and sent Met Market packing ... in paper or plastic.

Game 3: King Solomon's Reef (212 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia) vs. Mac N More (9323 Martin Way E., Lacey)

Mac N More knew this is a tournament, not a playoff. They knew this match was do or die - one misstep and they would be out of the dance. Leave the macaroni in the pot too long, forget to add the blue cheese to the "Buffalo" mac and cheese, and they can pack their pasta ladle and go home. Mac N More is a mac and cheese joint. Hell, "Mac" is part of their name. They have a huge following, which they proved yesterday. With 87 percent of the vote over King Solomon's Reef, Mac N More moves into the Cheesy 16.

Game 4: Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge (454 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma) vs. H.G. Bistro (1618 E. Main Ave., Puyallup)

H.G. Bistro's goose is cooked. Yes, the downtown Puyallup bistro has exceptional mac and cheese and a supreme happy hour, but it doesn't have the experience or Chef Hudson Slater to carry them through the Tournament of Mac and Cheese. Maxwell's does, and they proved it yesterday securing 82 percent of the vote and a spot in the Cheesy 16.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Cheesy 16:

Eleven Eleven

Rosewood Café

Mac N More

Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge

The daily mac and cheese battles here on Served in the South Sound are sponsored by BITE Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Murano.

OK, let's check out today's Cheesy 16 mac and cheese battles. Vote for one mac and cheese dish per battle. Voting for today's mac and cheese battles ends at 11:45 p.m.



Tomorrow's Cheesy 16 Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: Crown Bar (2705 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. Rosewood Café (3323 N. 26th St., Tacoma)

Game 2: Eleven Eleven (1111 S. 11th St., Tacoma) vs. Steel Creek American Whiskey Co. (1114 Broadway, Tacoma)

Game 3: Engine House No. 9 (611 N. Pine St., Tacoma) vs. Mac N More (9323 Martin Way E., Lacey)

Game 4: Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge (454 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma) vs. Top of Tacoma Bar and Café (3529 McKinley Ave. E., Tacoma)

At 6 p.m. Monday, April 6, join us at McNamara's Pub & Eatery in DuPont for the Official Tournament of Mac and Cheese Party - our winner will be announced during halftime of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game.

March 30, 2015 at 7:57am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Second Round ends today!

King Solomon's Reef's mac and cheese (pictured) faces off with Mac N More's version in a worthy Thurston County battle today. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

MONDAY, MARCH 30: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

Now it's getting exciting. The elbows are really starting to fly, and the cheese is getting so thick you cut it with a cheese knife.

Point is: this is serious.

Today, the Weekly Volcano's Tournament of Mac and Cheese is in its 12th day, the last day of the Second Round and the competition is as hot as ever. Who will be crowned on April 6? The path to South Sound mac and cheese greatness continues.

Here's a look at today's Tournament of Mac and Cheese action and a recap of yesterday's results. Shake some Parmesan on it if you know what's good for you and get stirring.

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: Steel Creek American Whiskey Co. (1114 Broadway, Tacoma) vs. Chambers Bay Grill (6320 Grandview Dr. W., University Place)

It's becoming a little busy around the 930-acre Chamber Creek Regional Park. Trails and dog parks are closed. The Tent City is under construction. The USGA is preparing for the U.S. Open golf championship to be held June 15-21 at Chambers Bay. Coach John Tartaglia took advantage of the Chambers Bay Grill's location, pushing his 10th seeded Steel Creek to victory with 68 percent of the votes, behind solid play from his lobster mac and cheese. Steel Creek moves into the Cheesy 16 round.

Game 2: C.I. Shenanigans (3017 Ruston Way, Tacoma) vs. Crown Bar (2705 Sixth Ave., Tacoma)

In NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament history, an eighth seed has only one once. The legendary 1985 Villanova Wildcats beat heavily-favored Georgetown as an eighth seed. But this is the Tournament of Mac and Cheese, and number eight seed Crown Bar handed number one seed C.I. Shenanigans a defeat the Tacoma waterfront restaurant will long remember. The Sixth Avenue hangout stomped on Shenanigans with 68 percent of the votes.

Game 3: Engine House No. 9 (611 N. Pine St., Tacoma) vs. Paesan Kitchen and Bar (1705 Dock St., Tacoma)

In a back and forth matchup pitting third seed Paesan Kitchen against 11th seed Engine House No. 9, Engine House No. 9 was eventually able to pull ahead of the stout Paesan Kitchen thanks to a late run - grabbing 57 percent of the votes. Paesan gambled Saturday night, closing down for a huge wedding party celebration. Did the closure affect Sunday's voting? Tournament of Mac and Cheese statisticians can't say. Apparently our stat people where all at E-9 drinking craft beer and eating mac and cheese Saturday night.

Game 4: Ricardo's Restaurant (5211 Lacey Blvd. SE, Lacey) vs. Top of Tacoma Bar and Café (3529 McKinley Ave. E., Tacoma)

Sitting in opposite counties, operating in very different styles, gritty Top of Tacoma and fancy Ricardo's battled hard yesterday. While their Facebook pages remained idle, their fans vigorously clicked computer mice. At the final buzzer, Top of Tacoma Bar and Café captured the third 68-percent-of-the-vote win of the day. Top of Tacoma moves on to the Cheesy 16.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Cheesy 16:

Steel Creek American Whiskey Co.

Crown Bar

Engine House No. 9

Top of Tacoma Bar and Cafe

The daily mac and cheese battles here on Served in the South Sound are sponsored by BITE Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Murano.

OK, let's check out today's Second Round mac and cheese battles. Vote for one mac and cheese dish per battle. Voting for today's mac and cheese battles ends at 11:45 p.m.




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Tomorrow's Cheesy 16 Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: STINK Cheese & Meat (628 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma) vs. Over The Moon Café (709 Opera Alley, Tacoma)

Game 2: Bar Bistro (1718 99th St. E., Tacoma) vs. BITE at Hotel Murano (1320 Broadway, Tacoma)

Game 3: Marrow Kitchen + Bar (2717 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. The Valley (1206 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma)

Game 4: Westside Tavern (1815 Harrison Ave. NW, Olympia) vs. Boathouse 19 (9001 S. 19th St., Tacoma)

At 6 p.m. Monday, April 6, join us at McNamara's Pub & Eatery in DuPont for the Official Tournament of Mac and Cheese Party - our winner will be announced during halftime of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game.

March 29, 2015 at 8:29am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Sunday, Cheesy Sunday

Chambers Bay Grill's crab mac and cheese (pictured) battles Steel Creek American Whiskey Co.'s lobster mac and cheese today. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

SUNDAY, MARCH 29: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

Laid-back is the essence of Sunday. That means a lazy mid-afternoon mac and cheese, no work, phone off the hook, flip-flops ... you know the routine. The mere thought of lifting a finger to wash the mountain of dishes in the sink should make you shudder. Yesterday, a good chunk of the South Sound changed its Saturday routine. Voting in the Tournament of Mac and Cheese was added to the mix. Yesterday's vote total nearly doubled the previous record high for most votes in a day. Don't you people have lives?!

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: Harmon Brewery & Eatery (1938 Pacific Ave., Tacoma) vs. Over The Moon Café (709 Opera Alley, Tacoma)

Sixty-five votes. That's the margin of victory Over The Moon Café had over the Harmon Brewery & Eatery. Was it Over the Moon Café owner Deanna Harris Bender's love of "elevated old school" cooking that advanced the Opera Alley restaurant into the next round? Maybe it was the funky knick-knacks in the building's bathrooms. Most likely it was the seasonal mac and cheese with penne pasta, rich cream sauce and Gruyere cheese. Whatever it was Over The Moon Café will need it March 31 when it faces neighboring STINK Cheese & Meat in the Cheesy 16 round. Families will be torn apart that day.

Game 2: The Forum Tacoma (815 Pacific Ave., Tacoma) vs. BITE at Hotel Murano (1320 Broadway, Tacoma)

BITE restaurant took a big bite out of The Forum's Tournament of Mac and Cheese dreams. The modern restaurant inside the Hotel Murano grabbed 66 percent of the vote over The Forum. Could the orecchiette pasta and truffles in BITE's mac and cheese have anything to do with the win? Or did the Murano's Bellhops whisper suggestions as they opened the front door? BITE moves into the Cheesy 16 and a March 31 date with Bar Bistro.

Game 3: Marrow Kitchen + Bar (2717 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. Southern Kitchen (1716 Sixth Ave., Tacoma)

Tacoma's Sixth Avenue is a long-ass street. And it's loaded with mac and cheese dishes in this competition. Two of them - Marrow Kitchen + Bar and Southern Kitchen - faced off yesterday in a brutal battle that went down to the wire. After the cheese stopped bubbling, Marrow emerged victorious with 51.39 percent of the vote. Yup, I'm talking a two-vote difference. Marrow moves into the Cheesy 16 and a March 31 date with The Valley.

Game 4: Westside Tavern (1815 Harrison Ave. NW, Olympia) vs. El Gaucho (2119 Pacific Ave., Tacoma)

Despite a late push from fancy El Gaucho, Westside Tavern and their large, devoted strongly motorcycle-riding following proved too powerful in yesterday's action, catapulting into the Cheesy 16 with 63 percent of the votes. You can't question the Westside Tavern's following, and sometimes a following is just what it takes in the Tournament of Mac and Cheese.  

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Cheesy 16:

Over The Moon Cafe

BITE

Marrow Kitchen + Bar

Westside Tavern

The daily mac and cheese battles here on Served in the South Sound are sponsored by BITE Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Murano.

OK, let's check out today's Second Round mac and cheese battles. Vote for one mac and cheese dish per battle. Voting for today's mac and cheese battles ends at 11:45 p.m.




Tomorrow's Second Round Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: Eleven Eleven (1111 S. 11th St., Tacoma) vs. Smoke + Cedar (2013 S. Cedar St., Tacoma)

Game 2: Metropolitan Market (2420 N. Proctor St., Tacoma) vs. Rosewood Café (3323 N. 26th St., Tacoma)

Game 3: King Solomon's Reef (212 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia) vs. Mac N More (9323 Martin Way E., Lacey)

Game 4: Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge (454 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma) vs. H.G. Bistro (1618 E. Main Ave., Puyallup)

At 6 p.m. Monday, April 6, join us at McNamara's Pub & Eatery in DuPont for the Official Tournament of Mac and Cheese Party - our winner will be announced during halftime of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game.

March 28, 2015 at 7:58am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Second Round games, yesterday's results

Over The Moon Cafe's mac and cheese (pictured) takes on the Harmon's version in the Tournament of Mac and Cheese today. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

SATURDAY, MARCH 28: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

Beginning March 31, we'll cut the field of 64 South Sound mac and cheese joints to the Cheesy 16. April 2, it'll drop to the Baked Eight. On April 6, we'll announce the winner of Weekly Volcano's Tournament of Mac and Cheese - picked by you, of course - at McNamara's Pub & Eatery in DuPont during halftime of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. On that Monday, we'll cut the online voting at 5 p.m. and take the vote live at McNamara's at 6 p.m., handing out ballots while you pound beers.

That's all fine and dandy, but it's Saturday and you don't have time for idle chitchat. You need to start whittling away at our 5 Things To Do Today. OK, OK, here are yesterday's results and today's mac and cheese matchups. Thanks for voting!

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: STINK Cheese & Meat (628 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma) vs. Doyle's Public House (208 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma)

In a battle of T-town institutions, not surprisingly the institution well known for its delicious mac and cheese emerged decisively victorious - with STINK Cheese & Meat cruising to victory and securing roughly 62 percent of the vote by the time things were said and done. Luckily for all of us, Doyle's Public House doesn't need the Tournament of Mac and Cheese to get by ... it's got Irish whiskey, English football, not to mention a grubbin' mac and cheese. The high-powered STINK moves on to the Cheesy 16.

Game 2: The Galley at 7 Seas Brewing (3006 Judson St., Gig Harbor) vs. Bar Bistro (1718 99th St. E., Tacoma)

The Galley is a food truck. They really haven't pushed their take-out attribute but I suspect that had to pull it out yesterday to compete with the fancy mac and cheese at Bar Bistro. At halftime, The Galley had a commanding 66 percent lead, obviously pushing the beautiful weather to the max. But, then night came, and the "Bar" in Bar Bistro hit it hard, backing its mac and cheese with craft cocktails. It proved to be a winning combination, capturing 52 percent of the votes when all said and done. Congratulations Bar Bistro. You move into the Cheesy 16.

Game 3: The Valley (1206 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma) vs. Pacific Grill (1502 Pacific Ave., Tacoma)

The Valley and its super cheesy, three-cheese mac and cheese kept a steady push on Pacific Grill from the opening tip-off and all they way through The Cutwinkles final few live songs of the night. It was a bold move for Pacific Grill not to play its fine-dining hand, but instead rely on its fabulous Mexi Mac + Cheese, highlighting the smoked paprika as much as they could. With 59 percent of the votes over the popular Pacific Grill, The Valley moves into the Cheesy 16.

Game 4: The Hub (203 Tacoma Ave. S., Tacoma) vs. Boathouse 19 (9001 S. 19th St., Tacoma)

At halftime, The Hub had a 12-point lead over Boathouse 19. A constant stream of Harmon beers were delivered to those basking in the sun on The Hub's deck. The chefs were pumping out the three-cheese béchamel and elbows. Life was good. Then, the work bell rang and folks decided not to head home, but rather point their cars toward the Narrows Passage, specifically Boathouse 19. Maybe it was the stunning view. Or, more likely, their mac and cheese with caramelized onion and huge chunks of ham served in a cast-iron pan. Whatever the reason, Boathouse 19 pushed it, and the votes turned. At the final buzzer, with a victory much more than 19 points, Boathouse 19 had 62 percent of the votes and a clear path to the Cheesy 16.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Cheesy 16:

STINK Cheese & Meat

Bar Bistro

The Valley

Boathouse 19

The daily mac and cheese battles here on Served in the South Sound are sponsored by BITE Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Murano.

OK, let's check out today's Second Round mac and cheese battles. Vote for one mac and cheese dish per battle. Voting for today's mac and cheese battles ends at 11:45 p.m.



Tomorrow's Second Round Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: Steel Creek American Whiskey Co. (1114 Broadway, Tacoma) vs. Chambers Bay Grill (6320 Grandview Dr. W., University Place)

Game 2: C.I. Shenanigans (3017 Ruston Way, Tacoma) vs. Crown Bar (2705 Sixth Ave., Tacoma)

Game 3: Engine House No. 9 (611 N. Pine St., Tacoma) vs. Paesan Kitchen and Bar (1705 Dock St., Tacoma)

Game 4: Ricardo's Restaurant (5211 Lacey Blvd. SE, Lacey) vs. Top of Tacoma Bar and Café (3529 McKinley Ave. E., Tacoma)

At 6 p.m. Monday, April 6, join us at McNamara's Pub & Eatery in DuPont for the Official Tournament of Mac and Cheese Party - our winner will be announced during halftime of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game.

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Served, a blog by the Weekly Volcano, is the region’s feedbag of fresh chow daily, local restaurant news, New Beer Column, bar and restaurant openings and closings, breaking culinary news and breaking culinary ground - all brought to the table with a dollop of Internet frivolity on top.

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