Dish 45: Mac and Cheese at Rouge, 18th and Walnut, www.rouge98.com
Rouge envelops its patrons in lush fabrics; sheers hang from the walls in shades of mushroom, couches beckon visitors to sit and stay for a while, to hide if they so choose or to expose themselves at the bar in the center of the room, splendid, white marble surface and a scalloped edge. And on a wet dreary Friday evening, nothing could be more appealing than finding solace in a dry, warm place one couch cushion away from two Drexel girls giggling furiously over their devious plan to coerce parental funding for a trip to Greece. Or maybe it was the mac and cheese that was so comforting. I can’t remember.
I was in the mood for a quick post-work bite to—in the words of a great man—recharge the batteries, shut down the engines, and get myself back to neutral after a busy week, and the mac and cheese was an ideal choice for the situation. It’s very mild, Fontina and Lancaster goat cheese, with a light crunch from what may be the world’s only green bread crumbs, flavored with chervil. Morbid curiosity and stubbornness led me to slowly finish all of the topping to see if I could figure out the flavor before consulting the menu. I could not. Moral of the story, not especially herbaceous. Crunchy, and a welcome complement to the very creamy smooth cheese and noodles.
Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on food. I just like eating and tormenting my unfortunate readers with meandering reflections on food and people and what makes things what they are and my little thinks and my big thinks. But I am a college student. Which means two things. One, I spend far too much time thinking about Derivatives for an ordinary citizen. Two, I am a connoisseur of macaroni and cheese.
I like mac and cheese from a box. I like mac and cheese in my socks. I like mac and cheese for breakfast and for lunch, and when I want to munch. But best of all, I like it when it has lots of onions and hot sauce.
That’s right. If I wanted to eat something boring I would have checked the fridge. But since I paid to listen to a conversation about the Design & Marketing majors going to Iceland and what a sucky boyfriend what’s his face is, I’d like it to be a little more interesting. Rouge’s mac and cheese is a great dish, I even believe that it deserves it’s spot on the 239, but some herbs, spices, onions would project it into the stratosphere, from an awesome dish to something mind-blowingly unforgettable that makes you wake up shrieking in the middle of the night. So, I’m sorry, Rouge, you’re almost there. But not quite.
Tags: challenge, chervil bread crumbs, drexel, fontina, giggling girls, Jersey Girl, lancaster goat cheese, mac and cheese, mission, philadelphia magazine. D&M major, philly mag, Rechar, rittenhouse square, rouge