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March 27, 2015 at 7:51am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Second Round baby!

Bar Bistro's mac and cheese (pictured) battles the mac and cheese from The Galley at 7 Seas Brewing today. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

FRIDAY, MARCH 27: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

It's a simple equation: elbow macaroni plus cheese equals mac and cheese. But hidden within this simple formula is a universe of variety. Stovetop or baked? Macaroni or penne? Bacon or crab? Everyone who makes this classic American staple, from national fast-food joints to local mom and pops, has choices to make. And in those choices lie the path to greatness.

The field of 64 South Sound mac and cheese dishes has been voted down to 32 in the mother of all mac and cheese brackets. You've seen the carnage: chain restaurants fell, powerhouses butted heads and lobster mac and cheese dishes are making a run at the prize. Welcome to the Second Round. ...

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: Eleven Eleven (1111 S. 11th St., Tacoma) vs. Farrelli's Pizza (4870 Yelm Hwy., Lacey)

It's good to be bearded brothers Justin and Rob Peterson. Their co-venture Galley food truck in front of 7 Seas Brewery was victorious in the First Round. Their Valley restaurant and bar down the street from the Tacoma Dome also won. And their first venture, the Eleven Eleven, beat Farrelli's Pizza in Lacey yesterday, capturing 86 percent of the votes. It's safe to assume the beards stay, in more ways than one.

Game 2: Smoke + Cedar (2013 S. Cedar St., Tacoma) vs. Johnny's Seafood Market & Bistro (1199 Dock St., Tacoma)

In the closest battle of the day, although it wasn't that close, Smoke + Cedar grabbed 72 percent of the vote for the win. Surprisingly, Johnny's Seafood's patio on a glorious sunny day wasn't a factor. Once Smoke + Cedar's skillet full of owner Gordon Naccarato's version of the Augusta National pimento cheese recipe got hot, it was over. Smoke + Cedar moves into the Second Round and a March 30 date with Eleven Eleven.

Game 3: Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge (454 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma) vs. Homestead Restaurant & Bakery (7837 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma)

Maxwell's took second place in last year's Tournament of Burgers. Their experience came to the forefront during yesterday's game against the barn-dwelling Homestead. Ignoring the late-afternoon penalty the Homestead received for counting their chickens before they hatched, Maxwell's 81 percent of the vote victory came from the one-two punch of sharp white cheddar and crispy bacon. Maxwell's moves into the Second Round.

Game 4: Ramblin Jacks (520 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia) vs. H.G. Bistro (1618 E. Main Ave., Puyallup)

Ramblin Jacks must have been rambling too much. The downtown Olympia Southern-influenced American barbecue and pizza joint was all over the place during their game with H.G. Bistro, the popular downtown Puyallup restaurant with a killer happy hour. H.G. Bistro included Facebook posts as part of their game plan, a plan that also included cooking tasty mac and cheese. H.G. Bistro grabbed 76 percent of the vote and moves into the Second Round and a March 30 date with Maxwell's.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Second Round:

Elven Eleven

Smoke + Cedar

Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge

H.G. Bistro

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

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

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

Game 4: Westside Tavern (1815 Harrison Ave. NW, Olympia) vs. El Gaucho (2119 Pacific Ave., 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 26, 2015 at 8:02am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: First Round ends today

Maxwell’s Restaurant + Lounge’s “Max + Cheese” does battle today. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

THURSDAY, MARCH 26: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

Low and behold, today marks the closing of the Tournament of Mac and Cheese's First Round. After today's battles the bracket will officially be down to only 32 area mac and cheese joints, and the competitions are getting fiercer by the minute. Honestly, if it gets any more exciting we'll start to understand why Marv Albert is always yelling "Yesssss!" Plus, we'll have serious back fat.

Without wasting anyone's time with elbow macaroni related basketball innuendo, on to today's Weekly Volcano Tournament of Mac and Cheese action.Let's take a gander at yesterday's results, and then preview today's matches. ...

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: Metropolitan Market (2420 N. Proctor St., Tacoma) vs. Uncle Thurm's Finger Lickin' Ribs & Chicken (3709 S. G St., Tacoma)

Everyone loves a good comeback, and this may have been one of the better clutch performances in the (obviously short) history of the Tournament of Mac and Cheese. Down by a substantial margin by midday, Metropolitan Market was able to rally the shoppers at halftime, and by the time the final buzzer sounded the Proctor District grocery store had walked away with an impressive victory, racking up 57 percent of the vote. Metropolitan Market moves into the Second Round. ...

Game 2: Rosewood Café (3323 N. 26th St., Tacoma) vs. Serious Soul Café (35501 21st Ave. SW, Federal Way)

It would have been a serious upset of monumental proportion had the Serious Soul Cafe somehow managed to defeat the Rosewood Cafe, but - alas - it was never meant to be. The Rosewood dominated from tip-off to the final seconds yesterday, collecting votes at a more than three to one ratio and securing 85 percent of the votes. Bicyclists and mac and cheese lovers unite - the Rosewood Cafe will not be denied!

Game 3: Oakhouse Restaurant & Bar (8102 Zircon Dr. SW, Lakewood) vs. King Solomon's Reef (212 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia)

In a back and forth matchup pitting two fairly evenly matched competitors (at least in the eyes of voters, it seems), King Solomon's Reef was eventually able to pull ahead of the golf course clubhouse in the Lakewood neighborhood of Oakbrook thanks to a late run - grabby 70 percent of the votes. The loss has to be especially tough for the Oakhouse, as they entered the Tournament of Mac and Cheese with plenty of hype, mainly coming from, well, the entire city of Lakewood. That said, King Solomon's Reef thanks its lucky stars every time it makes a bank deposit for the damaged livers of Evergreen students, and it has its jam packed nighttime diner scene, so the fact it's moving on to the Second Round isn't shocking. You can't question The Reef's following, and sometimes a following is just what it takes in the Tournament of Mac and Cheese.

Game 4: Mac N More (9323 Martin Way E., Lacey) vs. Silvers Saloon (2752 Pacific Ave. SE, Olympia)

In a battle of Thurston County, Mac N More cruised to victory and securing roughly 87 percent of the vote by the time things were said and done. This one was over early, and the pummeling lasted all day. Luckily for all of us, Silvers Saloon doesn't need the Tournament of Mac and Cheese to get by ... it has an awesome saloon vibe, not to mention a grubbin' mac and cheese. The high-powered Mac N More moves on to Second Round action.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Second Round:

Metropolitan Market

Rosewood Café

King Solomon's Reef

Mac N More

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 First 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 Second Round Mac and Cheese Battles

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

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

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

Game 4: The Hub (203 Tacoma Ave. S., Tacoma) 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 25, 2015 at 7:50am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Yesterday's winners and Day 7 First Round battles

Rosewood Cafe mac and cheese: bicyclists approved / photo credit: Pappi Swarner

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

Macaroni and cheese may not be duck à l'orange, but it transcends so-called gastronomy by inspiring devotion and embodying sustenance. Adults fight over whose mother's recipe wins out. Friends have mac and cheese cook-offs. Even fancy restaurants try to capitalize on such greatness by adding things such as chorizo, cotija and aged English cheddar. Hmmm, that actually sounds delicious.

Welcome to Day 7 of our Tournament of Mac and Cheese, where 64 South Sound restaurants pit their mac and cheese dishes against each other with the hopes of being crowned the champion at our championship party at McNamara's Pub & Eatery April 6.

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

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: Masa (2811 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. Steel Creek American Whiskey Co. (1114 Broadway, Tacoma)

Steel Creek American Whiskey Co., formerly the Varsity Grill, is a cowboy joint, at least in terms of its décor. Everything it does, it does big: big dance floor, big whiskey selection, big hairdos and big bowls of creamy mac and cheese that arrive tasty and full of lobster flavor. The other big thing Steel Creek does is win big. Yesterday the downtown Tacoma joint grabbed 87 percent of the votes over Masa, and secured a spot in the Sound Round of the Tournament of Mac and Cheese.

Game 2: Chambers Bay Grill (6320 Grandview Dr. W., University Place) vs. Lunchbox Laboratory (4901 Point Fosdick Dr. NW, Gig Harbor)

Chambers Bay Grill opens its first food tournament with a big win against Gig Harbor burger joint Lunchbox Laboratory in Tuesday's First Round action. Grabbing 73 percent of the votes, the University Place golf course clubhouse dominated the stovetop for much of the game, only letting up a little to take in its own view of the Puget Sound passage ways. Chambers Bay Grill moves into the Second Round and a March 29 date with Steel Creek.

Game 3: Ricardo's Restaurant (5211 Lacey Blvd. SE, Lacey) vs. Oly Rockfish Grill (700 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia)

In yesterday's closest battle, Ricardo's edged out Oly Rockfish Grill with 54 percent of the votes. Maybe the screams of "Dungeness And You're Done!" from Ricardo's kitchen might have something to do with the victory. Stranger things have happened in Weekly Volcano food tournaments.

Game 4: Top of Tacoma Bar and Café (3529 McKinley Ave. E., Tacoma) vs. South Bay Pub & Eatery (3323 S. Bay Road NE, Olympia)

The Tournament of Mac and Cheese can be brutish and short. One cold stovetop day can destroy title dreams of even the best elbow macaroni makers. Sometimes experience can be a deciding factor. Those who have made it far in food tournaments are more consistent and less prone to scorch panko or forget cream. Top of Tacoma Bar and Café is a veteran of food tournaments and knows how to garner votes, as demonstrated yesterday with 89 percent of the votes over South Bay Pub & Eatery.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Second Round:

Steel Creek American Whiskey Co.

Chambers Bay Grill

Ricardo's Restaurant

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 First 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 First Round Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: Eleven Eleven (1111 S. 11th St., Tacoma) vs. Farrelli's Pizza (4870 Yelm Hwy., Lacey)

Game 2: Smoke + Cedar (2013 S. Cedar St., Tacoma) vs. Johnny's Seafood Market & Bistro (1199 Dock St., Tacoma)

Game 3: Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge (454 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma) vs. Homestead Restaurant & Bakery (7837 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma)

Game 4: Ramblin Jacks (520 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia) 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 24, 2015 at 8:02am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Day 6 First Round games and yesterday's winners

Top of Tacoma Bar and Cafe serves a mac and cheese with prosciutto, pork belly, tomato or pesto options. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

TUESDAY, MARCH 24: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

The seed was planted last April during our Tournament of Burgers Championship party at Meconi's in downtown Tacoma. After taking second place to the Westside Tavern, Maxwell's chef Hudson Slater suggested mac and cheese for the Weekly Volcano's 2015 food tournament.

The South Sound Tournament of Mac and Cheese launched Thursday with 64 mac and cheese joints battling toward the championship game April 6. Follow along with the Tournament of Mac and Cheese bracket attached (below and to the right).

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

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: C.I. Shenanigans (3017 Ruston Way, Tacoma) vs. Applebee's (10407 Gravelly Lake Dr. SW, Lakewood)

The nice thing about being a number one seed is it usually means you've got a paddy-cake game the first round. So was the case for Tacoma waterfront restaurant C.I. Shenanigans, which easily handled the 16-seeded Applebee's by securing more than 96 percent of the vote. Even better, Shenanigans survived the contest without wacky promotional schemes such as asking diners to rewrite popular songs with Applebee's menu items as the lyrics ... so bonus!

Game 2: Crown Bar (2705 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. Tides Tavern (2925 Harborview Dr., Gig Harbor)

Serving delicious mac and cheese to intoxicated masses on Sixth Avenue is business genius, probably why Tacoma's Crown Bar does it. However, name recognition also goes long way - and Tides Tavern has been slinging food and drinks wearing boat shoes for ages. In this contest, late night food carried the day, with the Crown Bar securing roughly 70 percent of the votes and winning easily.

Game 3: Topside Bar and Grill (215 Wilkes St., Steilacoom) vs. Engine House No. 9 (611 N. Pine St., Tacoma)

If there's a trend developing it's that Tournament of Mac and Cheese voters are wowed by unique toppings. Sure, and fancy mac and cheese can get you somewhere in the Tournament of Mac and Cheese, but it doesn't guarantee anything - and your cheese sauce foundation has to be sound before voters will get behind some of the stranger stuff. While Topside Bar and Grill gushes beautiful view and community feel, voters flocked toward the down home, Tailgate-style, Lit'l Smokies laden mac and cheese goodness of Engine House No. 9 in this contest, awarding the old firehouse roughly 83 percent of the vote.

Game 4: Paesan Kitchen and Bar (1705 Dock St., Tacoma) vs. Southbay Dickerson's BBQ (619 Legion Way NE, Olympia)

Fontina cheese is the star ingredient in Paesan Kitchen & Bar's gooey baked penne pasta, although the leeks, egg, mustard, chili flakes, grated Parmesan and breadcrumbs would tell you different, if they could. It's baked ... and so is Southbay Dickerson's BBQ after this battle. The downtown Olympia barbecue joint threw everything and the kitchen sink at Paesan, but the tiny Dock Street Tacoma's kitchen was too much for Dickerson's. With 88 percent of the votes, Paesan Kitchen and Bar advances to the Second Round and a March 29 date with Engine House No. 9.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Second Round:

C.I. Shenanigans

Crown Bar

Engine House No. 9

Paesan Kitchen and Bar

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 First 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 First Round Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: Metropolitan Market (2420 N. Proctor St., Tacoma) vs. Uncle Thurm's Finger Lickin' Ribs & Chicken (3709 S. G St., Tacoma)

Game 2: Rosewood Café (3323 N. 26th St., Tacoma) vs. Serious Soul Café (35501 21st Ave. SW, Federal Way)

Game 3: Oakhouse Restaurant & Bar (8102 Zircon Dr. SW, Lakewood) vs. King Solomon's Reef (212 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia)

Game 4: Mac N More (9323 Martin Way E., Lacey) vs. Silvers Saloon (2752 Pacific Ave. SE, Olympia)

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 23, 2015 at 8:03am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: First Round action, plus yesterday's results

Engine House No. 9's Tailgate Mac And Cheese (pictured) takes on the Topside Bar & Grill in today's Tournament of Mac and Cheese action. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

MONDAY, MARCH 23: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

It's Monday, March 23, which means I tempt you with more South Sound mac and cheese battles in the Tournament of Mac and Cheese. First, a touch of mac and cheese history: Thomas Jefferson helped make macaroni and cheese popular in the United States after sampling it in Italy. He brought home a pasta maker and introduced the dish in 1802. Mac and cheese is obviously the food of presidents, for it was also Ronald Reagan's favorite. Reagan enjoyed a little dry mustard and Worcestershire in his mac and cheese.

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

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: Harmon Brewery & Eatery vs. McNamara's Pub & Eatery

Unexpectedly, this was an epic battle ... the kind of thing Tournament of Mac and Cheese "instant classics" are made of. A surprisingly low scoring affair, with much of the action on defense, the fifth seeded Harmon Brewery & Eatery and the 12th seeded McNamara's Pub & Eatery were in a dead heat - literally tied - going into the final hours of the competition. Back at Weekly Volcano World Headquarters, Tournament of Mac and Cheese officials frantically discussed what to do in the case of a tie? Overtime? Coin flip? See which establishment could deliver mac and cheese to our Lakewood office the fastest? In the end, The Harmon edged out the win, securing exactly 52.94 percent of the vote. This one will go down in the history books.

Game 2: Over The Moon Café vs. Quickie Too

Over The Moon Cafe quickly comes to the lips of many when discussing the best South Sound mac and cheese. So, perhaps it's no surprise that the romantic café tucked in Tacoma's Opera Alley frequented by lunching ladies and lovers alike did serious damage in yesterday's action, kicking Niombi and James Howell's beloved vegan restaurant to the curb while garnering 59 percent of the vote. Over The Moon Cafe moves on as a mac and cheese to reckon with in later rounds of Tournament of Mac and Cheese action.

Game 3: Westside Tavern vs. The Swiss Restaurant & Pub

Westside Tavern and The Swiss Restaurant & Pub battled back and forth all day, changing leads several times. It's our guess that Westside Tavern's Facebook push might have made the difference as the Westside Olympia joint ended up edging out The Swiss with 59 percent of the votes.

Game 4: El Gaucho vs. Panera Bread

The other close game was El Gaucho vs. Panera Bread. We dropped by both restaurants yesterday to check out the behind-the-scenes game day action. Surprisingly, the quieter one - El Gaucho -ended up winning with 55 percent of the votes. It could be that the downtown Tacoma fine-dining restaurant was pushing their Washington wines hard. Smart move. El Gaucho will meet Westside Tavern in the second Round March 28. Lives will change after this one.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Second Round:

Harmon Brewery & Eatery

Over The Moon Cafe

Westside Tavern

El Gaucho

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 First 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 First Round Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: Masa (2811 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. Steel Creek American Whiskey Co. (1114 Broadway, Tacoma)

Game 2: Chambers Bay Grill (6320 Grandview Dr. W., University Place) vs. Lunchbox Laboratory (4901 Point Fosdick Dr. NW, Gig Harbor)

Game 3: Ricardo's Restaurant (5211 Lacey Blvd. SE, Lacey) vs. Oly Rockfish Grill (700 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia)

Game 4: Top of Tacoma Bar and Café (3529 McKinley Ave. E., Tacoma) vs. South Bay Pub & Eatery (3323 S. Bay Road NE, Olympia)

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 22, 2015 at 7:45am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Yesterday's results and Day 4 battles ...

McNamara's Pub and Eatery in DuPont pits their Papa Ed's Mac and Cheese (pictured) against The Harmon's giant bowl of mac and cheese today. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

SUNDAY, MARCH 22: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

Sixty-four South Sound mac and cheese joints were picked for the Tournament of Mac and Cheese, which is now four days into the competition. Brackets don refrigerators, break rooms, restaurant hallways and birdcages. Birthday parties have been moved to mac and cheese serving restaurants. Everyone is discussing pasta choices and panko. It's crazy fun.

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

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: The Forum Tacoma vs. Sparks Firehouse Deli

In a back and forth match-up pitting two fairly even matched competitors (at least in the eyes of voters, it seems), The Forum Tacoma eked out a win beating Sparks Firehouse Deli by one vote. Did The Forums' two 100-inch televisions play a part? Can't say for certain. What I do know is The Forum Tacoma moves into the Second Round.

Game 2: BITE at Hotel Murano vs. Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que

You won't hear any Southern rock at BITE inside the Hotel Murano, buy you will find a pretty freakin' delicious mac and cheese entrée, at least according to yesterday's vote. BITE grabbed a whoppin' 94 percent of the votes, and moves into the Second Round to battle The Forum Tacoma March 28.

Game 3: Marrow Kitchen + Bar vs. Great American Casino

The Great American Casino in Lakewood gambled on its card games and ample parking to carry them to victory. Are you serious? Marrow, which makes no apologies for food steeped in indulgence, delivered squiggles of meaty, housemade daily cavatellienmeshed in a Mornay sauce and served in a cast iron pot. It's elegance of the re-imagined comfort food. Marrow and its 83 percent of the votes moves into the Second Round.

Game 4: RAM Restaurant & Brewery vs. Southern Kitchen

RAM Restaurant & Brewery has fancy newsletters, delicious burgers and award-winning beer. Get out the elbow macaroni and cheese, Grandma, it's Tournament of Mac and Cheese time! Southern Kitchen has down home Southern cooking ... including delicious mac and cheese - a winning formula, at least according to yesterday's votes. The Sixth Avenue joint grabbed 84 percent of the votes, and a March 28 date with Marrow in Second Round action.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Second Round:

The Forum Tacoma

BITE

Marrow Kitchen + Bar

Southern Kitchen

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 First 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 First Round Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: C.I. Shenanigans (3017 Ruston Way, Tacoma) vs. Applebee's (10407 Gravelly Lake Dr. SW, Lakewood)

Game 2: Crown Bar (2705 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. Tides Tavern (2925 Harborview Dr., Gig Harbor)

Game 3: Topside Bar and Grill (215 Wilkes St., Steilacoom) vs. Engine House No. 9 (611 N. Pine St., Tacoma)

Game 4: Paesan Kitchen and Bar (1705 Dock St., Tacoma) vs. Southbay Dickerson's BBQ (619 Legion Way NE, Olympia)

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 21, 2015 at 8:20am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Yesterday's results and Day 3 battles ...

Marrow Kitchen + Bar serves its mac and cheese in a baking pot. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

SATURDAY, MARCH 21: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

Typically, the only metal associated with macaroni and cheese is a post-concert feast from metal musicians. In other mac and cheese metal news, Kraft Foods, the company synonymous with macaroni and cheese, has recalled more than 6 million boxes due to the possibility that they contain small bits of metal. If you have a box of Kraft mac and cheese in your pantry right now and you're wondering if you're about to eat metal for dinner, check the "best when used by" date. The recalled boxes are 7.25 ounces in size and have dates that range from Sept. 18, 2015 through Oct. 11, 2015 and have a "C2" code. Then, slap yourself in the face, and visit one of the 64 South Sound mac and cheese establishments participating in the Tournament of Mac and Cheese (see bracket in the sidebar).

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

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: The Galley at 7 Seas Brewing vs. The Rock Wood Fired Kitchen

The Galley food truck sits outside the 7 Seas Brewing taproom in downtown Gig Harbor with the goal of serving its huge portion of mac and cheese in eight minutes or less. That's a winning formula, at least according to the vote totals in the Tournament of Mac and Cheese. The Galley sunk The Rock Wood Fired Kitchen with 66 percent of the votes, and moves on to the Second round.

Game 2: Bar Bistro vs. BJ's Restaurant

Bar Bistro grabbed 91 percent of the votes over BJ's Restaurant at the Tacoma Mall. Bar Bistro chef Jason Blessum takes fusilli pasta, roasted garlic puree, heavy cream and a balanced blend of smoked cheddar, aged white cheddar, pepper jack, Parmesan, Asiago and Romano cheeses, tops it with bacon bread crumbs, shaved Parmesan, then garnishes it with grape tomatoes and basil oil. BJ's wall of televisions blasting the basketball tournament apparently doesn't have a mac and cheese that can compete with Bar Bistro's A game.

Game 3: The Valley vs. Half Pint Pizza Pub

In yesterday's closest battle, The Valley edged out Half Pint Pizza Pub with 53 percent of the votes. Both joints serve tasty mac and cheese, worthy craft beer and rockin' tunes. No hocus pocus, just focus from the folks at The Valley, who converted their Port of Tacoma afternoon crowd into votes.

Game 4: Pacific Grill vs. Tugboat Annie's

Pacific Grill quickly comes to the lips of many when discussing the best food in the South Sound. So, perhaps it isn't a surprise that the fine-dining restaurant in downtown Tacoma won handily, kicking Tugboat Annie's to the dock while garnering a respectable 71 percent of the vote. Pacific Grill moves into the Second Round to face The Valley March 27.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Second Round:

The Galley at 7 Seas Brewing

Bar Bistro

The Valley

Pacific Grill

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 First 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 First Round Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: Harmon Brewery & Eatery (1938 Pacific Ave., Tacoma) vs. McNamara's Pub & Eatery (1595 Wilmington Dr., DuPont)

Game 2: Over The Moon Café (709 Opera Alley, Tacoma) vs. Quickie Too (1324 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma)

Game 3: Westside Tavern (1815 Harrison Ave. NW, Olympia) vs. The Swiss Restaurant & Pub (1904 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma)

Game 4: El Gaucho (2119 Pacific Ave., Tacoma) vs. Panera Bread (5606 Lakewood Towne Center Dr., Lakewood)

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 20, 2015 at 8:14am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Yesterday's results, today's First Round games ...

Pacific Grill's Mexi Mac + Cheese (pictured) faces off with Tugboat Annie's radiatore pasta mac and cheese today. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

FRIDAY, MARCH 20: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

Following on the successful heels of the Weekly Volcano's 2014 Tournament of Burgers, we present a new NCAA Basketball tournament-like event.  We're hosting daily games that pit one restaurant against another, leaving it to you, the reader, to decide the final outcomes all the way down to a final four and then a grand championship. (For newbie readers, Olympia's Westside Tavern edged out Tacoma's Maxwell's Restaurant in the final seconds of last year's Tournament of Burgers.) 

This year, we pit 64 South Sound restaurants offering the ultimate comfort food - macaroni and cheese.

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 vs. Penny's on the Blvd.

STINK Cheese & Meat stuck to the winning formula: a mac and cheese roux of mild and sharp cheddar with a quarter stick of cream cheese, which helps bind it together. STINK's weekly rotating gourmet mac and cheese dishes are complex and textbook perfect, whether it's a truffle version or the fun cheeseburger mac and cheese. This foundation can grabs wins alone, but STINK dropped a bomb on Penny's on the Blvd. when the Tacoma Triangle District über deli announced their converting their neighboring wine bar into a Spanish Tapas restaurant. BAM! STINK dominated from start to finish, grabbing 82 percent of the votes, and a trip to the Second Round.

Game 2: Sorci's Italian Café vs. Doyle's Public House

Sorci's Italian Café is a quaint spot nestled in downtown Sumner, with beautiful outdoor seating on their back patio, and at night, its interior is the center of romance with dim lighting, candles and soft music in the background. Doyle's Public House has Jameson Irish whiskey ... oh, and delicious mac and cheese. The United Kingdom-style pub put the dispsy-doo double-a-roo on Sorci's, securing 85 percent of the votes from way at the end of the stovetop, BANG! Doyle's will face STINK in Second Round action March 27.

Game 3: The Hub vs. Viva Tacoma

A veteran of the Weekly Volcano's food tournaments, The Hub channeled its experience and put the hurt on vegetarian restaurant Viva Tacoma in Thursday's First Round action. Grabbing 71 percent of the votes, the Stadium District pizza and beer hub dominated the stove the entire game, only letting up slightly when Viva unleashed a whole bunch of texturized vegetable protein. The Hub moves into the Second Round.

Game 4: Boathouse 19 vs. Red Robin

Boathouse 19 grabbed Red Robin by the beak and kicked them out of the nest with a whopping 97 percent of the votes. Boathouse 9 moves to the Second Round, facing The Hub March 27.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Second Round:

STINK Cheese & Meat

Doyle's Public House

The Hub

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 First 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 First Round Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: The Forum Tacoma (815 Pacific Ave., Tacoma) vs. Sparks Firehouse Deli (621 5th St., Puyallup)

Game 2: BITE at Hotel Murano (1320 Broadway, Tacoma) vs. Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que (1901 S. 72nd St., Tacoma)

Game 3: Marrow Kitchen + Bar (2717 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. Great American Casino (10117 S. Tacoma Way, Lakewood)

Game 4: RAM Restaurant & Brewery (10019 59th Ave. SW, Lakewood) vs. Southern Kitchen (1716 Sixth Ave., 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 19, 2015 at 7:59am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: First Round Battles ...

Fifteenth seed Red Robin (pictured) takes on second seed Boathouse 19 in Tournament of Mac and Cheese action today. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

THURSDAY, MARCH 19: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

It's March ... meaning Madness is in the air. Sixty-four well-oiled competitors (for the most part) will tip off and do battle - working their way through the tediously constructed bracket and toward ultimate supremacy.

We speak, of course, of the Weekly Volcano's Tournament of Mac and Cheese, which kicks off today. This year's Tournament of Mac and Cheese marks the continuation of an epic winning streak that began in 2010 with the Volcano's Tournament of Tacos, and continued with our Tournament of Pizza, Tournament of Breakfast, Tournament of Sandwiches and Tournament of Burgers.

This year, the tradition continues. The Volcano has the South Sound's best mac and cheese in its crosshairs, and it's up to readers to decide who walks away the winner.

Beginning today, 64 cheesy competitors (some baked) will tip off and do battle - working their way through the tediously constructed bracket and toward ultimate supremacy. Only one can be crowned king - so vote DAILY right here on our Served in the South Sound blog. Use the bracket to your righ to guide you through the matchups.

Then, 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.

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 First 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 First Round Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: The Galley at 7 Seas Brewing (3006 Judson St., Gig Harbor) vs. The Rock Wood Fired Kitchen (1920 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma)

Game 2: Bar Bistro (1718 99th St. E., Tacoma) vs. BJ's Restaurant (4502 S. Steele St. Tacoma)

Game 3: The Valley (1206 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma) vs. Half Pint Pizza Pub (2710 Sixth Ave., Tacoma)

Game 4: Pacific Grill (1502 Pacific Ave., Tacoma) vs. Tugboat Annie's (2100 W. Bay Dr. NW, Olympia)

February 13, 2015 at 12:24pm

Mac and Cheese Madness: C.I. Shenanigans

C.I. Shenanigans in Tacoma serves one of the best mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

This week marks 38th different mac and cheese dish I have eaten since April 2014. Don't look at me like that. I have a soft spot in my heart for mac and cheese. After any major trauma in my life, a dish of macaroni and cheese has bolstered me and given me a full belly and clear mind with which to plow ahead. Mac and cheese is what I want when I'm sick, when I'm sad, when I'm happy, even when I'm not particularly hungry. It forms a protective layer of love around my heart. (To be fair, that could also be arteriosclerosis. But it's too good for me to care.)

Also ... I'm doing research for our Tournament of Mac and Cheese, which begins next month. My goal is to report on a South Sound mac and cheese dish every week up to the tournament - to spread the cheesy word, ease into tournament research and, obviously, build hype. With your help, we'll pit 64 of the South Sound's best mac and cheese makers in a elbow-to-elbow battle - a titanic, cheesy tournament the likes of which has never been seen in these parts, unless you count our previous tacos, pizza, breakfast, sandwiches and burgers tournaments.

This week, I found one of the best mac and cheese dishes at C.I. Shenanigans.

Crab mac 'n' cheese is hardly the novelty it once was, but in the expert hands of C.I. Shenanigans, it's elevated to new heights. The Tacoma waterfront fine-dining restaurant relies on a béchamel sauce spiked with blue lump crab, smoked gouda cheese and long strips of Hill's bacon to give their Blue Crab Mac & Cheese ($22.95) an assertive edge. The lumache pasta was fluffy but not insubstantial.

"Blue lump crab gouda cheese, bacon, sautéed in béchamel - those are the only ingredients I can reveal," says Marvin Spencer, bar manager at Shenanigans. "It's a secret formula."

It's one of the few baked mac and cheese dishes that's not overcooked, nor does it reveal a layer of grease and unemulsified cheese at the bottom (as so many baked mac and cheese dishes do). Instead, the giant bowl of mac and cheese is thick all the way through except for a crunchy layer of breadcrumbs and slightly crisped pasta at the very top. Be careful, though: It takes a good five minutes to cool off enough to eat; I like to spend that time enjoying their tableside margarita.

C.I. SHENANIGANS, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. to close Sunday, 3017 Ruston Way, Tacoma, 253.752.8811

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

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

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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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