Mac and Cheese Madness: Maxwell's Restaurant + Lounge

By Ron Swarner on July 25, 2014

Macaroni and cheese. What began as an inexpensive school cafeteria lunch for most of us has turned into my obsession: try as many South Sound mac and cheese dishes before the Weekly Volcano's Tournament of Mac and Cheese in March 2015.

Though the classic mac 'n' cheese consists of elbow noodles and cheddar or American cheese sauce, there are so many variations - topped with breadcrumbs, baked into individual mini casseroles, made with upscale ingredients such as truffle oil and lobster. Frankly, I love them all. My nirvana: the magic moment when the cheese has cooled just enough to prevent the roof of my mouth from fusing to my fork.

One of the top restaurants in Tacoma must have one of the top macaroni and cheese. So it is written; so it is done. Maxwell's Restaurant + Lounge's "Max + Cheese" ($9) is perfection. Perfectly cooked macaroni is lovingly married to sharp cheese and bacon with a crunchy breadcrumb topping. Is it blasphemy to say I'd skip Maxwell's award-winning Walker Burger and have a second helping?

"We make it to order with care," explains Maxwell's Executive Chef Hudson Slater. "Every Max + Cheese ordered is very important. The pasta is al dente; the sauce is rich and creamy and has a great cheesy flavor from the sharp white cheddar. The toppers help too. Crispy bacon, toasted breadcrumbs and fresh scallions."

It is hard to go wrong with the flavors as long as you make it correctly, which Slater does. It's creamy but holds on the fork. It's crunchy, but light on the breadcrumbs. The fresh scallions pop. Oh, and the bacon. ...

P.S. Maxwell's server Kent Bolden was named Best Server by our readers in our 2014 Best of Tacoma issue.

MAXWELL'S RESTAURANT + LOUNGE, 4-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, 5 p.m. to midnight Saturday, 454 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.683.4115

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound