Sweet dreams are made of cheese

Mac+and+cheese+with+ham+and+breadcrumbs+on+top.

Pictured is Dogwood's highly rated mac and cheese, complete with ham and breadcrumbs. Photo by Clara Kasik.

Clara Kasik, Staff Reporter

With fall weather quickly approaching, it’s understandable why the people of Falls Church are looking for some classic comfort food. For so long, Fall Church citizens have been going to a few city staples: Clare and Don’s, Dogwood Tavern, The Four Provinces, Liberty Barbeque, and Panera. Although these places serve different types of food and have different restaurant setups, they have one thing in common: mac and cheese. 

I decided to compare the cheesy carb-loaded goodness from these five places to determine which is the best for when you’re having a mac and cheese attack. 

To make sure there wasn’t any bias, I tasted the mac and cheese before knowing which restaurant it came from. 

Panera: Many rave about the mac and cheese from Panera. I think the Panera mac and cheese has a special place in my heart. However, as I was tasting it, I could really tell that it wasn’t homemade like the other restaurants. The pasta to cheese ratio is perfect and the cheese is very creamy and rich, but I’m just unsure if the price is really worth it for a chain restaurant mac and cheese.

“Mac and Cheese”

Price: $4.99 for a small bowl

Rating: 7/10

 

Liberty Barbeque: Liberty Barbeque joined the Falls Church community in late December of 2017. The Mac and cheese had lots of cheese, which is something I look for, and the pasta itself was nice and tender. I could definitely tell that this mac and cheese was from a barbeque place while eating it, as it had a bit of a smokey flavor, but that was minimized after noticing that there were oyster crackers at the top. I understand that they were trying to have a flavorful, unique mac and cheese that stood out from the rest, but I think it would’ve been less distracting to have breadcrumbs on top rather than oyster crackers.

“3 Cheese Mac and Cheese”

Price: $4.50 for small

Rating: 8/10

 

Dogwood Tavern: Dogwood Tavern’s mac and cheese is different than others because it actually includes ham. Although this is not the best option for vegetarians, it definitely adds a surprise and a nice flavor to the mix. But, I think there are some ways this could’ve been improved. Although it was pretty tasty with the ham and pasta, it would be heavenly if it had more of the nice gooey, melted cheese.

“Virginia Ham Mac and Cheese”

Price: $5.00 for kids mac and cheese

Rating: 7/10

 

The Four Provinces: Ireland’s Four Provinces has a classic mac and cheese; elbow pasta and cheese. This mac and cheese was not very yummy. It had too much butter in it which made the cheese taste somewhat cheap. They could probably replace some of the butter with cream to make it a little less butter-heavy. I’ve had some very tasty things from Ireland’s Four Provinces before, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they did improve the mac and cheese sometime soon.

“Mac and Cheese”

Price: $4.99 for kids mac and cheese

Rating: 3/10

 

Clare and Dons: Clare and Don’s is a pretty iconic Falls Church City restaurant. They specialize in beach food, so I was somewhat skeptical about this mac and cheese. This was most definitely the best mac and cheese. The penne pasta absorbed the cheese and butter perfectly, leading to the most wonderful mouth explosion I’ve ever had. The cheeses they used complimented each other perfectly. They were very generous with the amount of cheese as well. My expectations were not high, but Clare and Don’s really hit it out of the park with the kid’s mac and cheese. Although it is the most expensive in the group, I highly recommend it.

“Mac and Cheese”

Price: $6.00 for kids mac and cheese

Rating: 10/10