Mac and Cheese Madness: Over the Moon Cafe

By Ron Swarner on November 7, 2014

Hidden in Tacoma's Opera Alley, Over the Moon Cafe fits like your favorite pair of slippers. With eclectic designs, mismatched spoons, dark woods and assorted table lamps, Over the Moon Café could be your Aunt Esmeralda's house - you know, the free spirit gypsy with books stacked on each table and a kickass wine cellar. Open for lunch and dinner, its bistro fare leans heavy on fish and beef. The roasted duck salad is a must. 

Naturally, this cozy spot serves the king of comfort dishes.

Using penne pasta, Over the Moon Cafe has concocted a sweet, tangy butternut squash "mac & cheese" ($17) that takes the dish beyond comfort food. You'll find 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, which I clipped off my fork by wrapping the strings around the sage leaves holding court at center stage. Topped with housemade croutons and Parmesan, this dish is a task to finish due to its size and richness.

The base of penne pasta, 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 last autumn. This version easily moves into my top 10 South Sound mac and cheese dishes. Bravo!

OVER THE MOON CAFÉ, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. lunch, 4:30 p.m. to close dinner, Tuesday-Saturday, 709 Court C "Opera Alley," Tacoma, 253.284.3722

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

LINK: The answer to why this mac and cheese column exists