I first met fellow food blogger, Allison Arevalo at a food festival two years ago. Since then, she’s embarked on the exciting new venture of opening her own restaurant! LMS correspondent, Danielle Tsi, reports back on what you can expect from Oakland’s latest temple to cheesy mac.
Oaklanders rejoice! Homeroom, the city’s first Mac-and-Cheese restaurant that has the Bay Area’s food media all abuzz with anticipation, is officially opening its doors today. Scoring an invite to their pre-opening party over the weekend, Lick My Spoon brought our appetites and best behavior to check out the latest addition to 40th Street in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood. Here are our Top Five things you’ll want to pay attention to on your next visit:
To the left of the main entrance is the Menu Pillar, directing guests to help themselves to a copy of the menu from a Pigs In Space tin lunchbox. Offering ten different Mac-and-Cheese variations (which can also be prepared gluten-free or vegan), the discerning Mac-and-Cheese gourmande will be spoilt for choice. A quick glance at their menu and we can’t wait to dig into the Bacon Egg and Cheese (carbonara in a bowl!) and Mac the Goat (with chevre and scallions).
Our favorites so far were the Mexican Mac (pictured above) with chorizo, chipotle peppers, jack cheese, cilantro and a wedge of lime, and the Cacio e Pepe with pecorino and cracked black pepper for its fine balance between creamy cheesy and aromatic spice. For die-hard cheddar fans, there’s the Trailer Mac (below) pairing cheddar with a Prather Ranch Hot Dog and crushed potato chips. If Classic is just the way you like it, there’s a super creamy all-cheddar mac topped with breadcrumbs for that too.
Remember to leave room for dessert though, as co-founder Erin’s Super Chocolatey Chip Cookies are rumored to be pretty divine. Also, who can resist ordering Homemade Oreos with Sea Salt? Or the Creamy Peanut Butter Pie with Graham Cracker Crust? Old-school indeed!
2. Handmade Love
From the long communal table in front of the bar, to the chandeliers above it, to the tables and chairs and even the bar itself, everything you’re going to be sitting, eating and drinking on has most likely been meticulously sanded, varnished and assembled by the owners, Allison Arevalo and Erin Wade, and their community of friends and neighbors. Most of the wood is recycled, as are the banquettes, giving the space a charm that’s vintage and homey, yet sophisticated. With the amount of sheer hard work that went into furnishing the restaurant, the space stands as a tribute to the DIY spirit, and the sense of satisfaction that comes from crafting something with your own hands.
Taking pride of place is the 11-foot long communal table at the front of the restaurant that was made by Allison’s husband, Alejandro. Using recycled wooden beams that were bleachers at Sequoia High School in a previous life, Alejandro sawed, sanded and glued his way through the finer skills of carpentry, producing a table big enough for 20 people, without using a single piece of metal. Impressive, no?
3. Allison Arevalo & Erin Wade
Of course, Homeroom wouldn’t be here without the gumption and single-mindedness of these two women who took the highs, lows and headaches of opening a restaurant well in their stride. You’ll probably see them keeping everyone on their toes for the perfect Homeroom experience, so don’t forget to ask about how they met and decided to open a restaurant.
4. The Homeroom “Credit Card”
With your first Homeroom mac, you get a gold star, which goes on your ‘card’ before its filed away in a gorgeous vintage library filing cabinet. Collect 10 gold stars and your 11th mac will be free!
Just as Homeroom wouldn’t come to be without Erin and Allison, so a restaurant wouldn’t be able to succeed without the benefit of an enthusiastic and dedicated team. Jamar, who’s also a student at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, keeps the roux going and the cheese melting four nights a week in Homeroom’s kitchen, while you’ll have Andrea taking your orders and serving up your favorite mac with her generous smile. To wash it all down, Bryan is your man, who is fast building his reputation for expertly pairing Homeroom’s macs with your beverage of choice.
And now, you’ll get a chance to check out Homeroom for free! To win a lunch for two at Homeroom ($25 value), leave a comment here telling me: What is the secret to your best mac + cheese recipe?.
Giveaway deadline is Monday 2/21, 11:59 pm PST. (Contest is open to US residents only. Winner will be selected by random.org.)
Disclosure: This giveaway was made possible via a donation by Homeroom.