Brook’s High Beer Battered

20150822_213152
http://www.brookshigh.com/
https://twitter.com/Brooks_High
Main Location: Minneapolis, Select Breweries

The second of this summer’s most locally-anticipated food trucks, Brook’s High Beer Battered gained fame through their popular Kickstarter campaign, gaining press and interest through the sharing of their particular vision, one which quite a few people seemed to agree with. Definitely one of the sight’s biggest success stories, at least for Minnesota, the team here proves that, if handled right with an idea that truly appears to our local hipster masses, crowdsourcing creates a viable supplemental income source for your startup food truck operation.

And what is this vision which so many of us here have been so anxious to get on the streets you ask? Well, if you have yet to run across articles like This and This explaining it (once again, since they’ve basically been talked about for quite some time, I’m going to be lazy in my intro today), they focus purely on, as the name suggests, Beer-battered and Beer-focused menu items. But not just any beer; the fun comes in the fact that as they park at brewery to brewery, that day’s batter recipe will specifically feature some of the different beers from our local taprooms. So one day you could get a typical fried something made from a light ale, while another brings complex bitter hops, and yet another day try out a uniquely dark and savory batter made from a stout.

So far they’ve been working with Bauhaus, Lynlake Brewing, Fair State, and Tin Whiskers, while also parking at the explosively popular distiller and cocktail room of Tattersall. Of which they’ve already been parking at for over a month; my delay in being able to visit has, as one would imagine, been painful. But with their mention of the menu still being worked on a few weeks ago, my steely resolve had to set itself to wait… that and my schedule sucks. But I always prefer to get to a truck at its set point while being as close to opening as possible; hopefully I got to the right point this time.

20150822_220611

Southside Donuts w/ ‘Glaze’

For the food itself, topping the menu is their Fried Walleye (at least now, perhaps they may switch the fish out depending on occasion) Sandwich, followed by classic Beer-Battered Cheese Curds. When asked about upcoming items, since with still only 4 on the board during my visit, it seems plans for a Bacon-Beer-Mac-and-Cheese are underway for when the temperatures drop, along with some Beer Chili. There IS a Salad for the gluten-free and veggie-required people out there, but we shall not deem it worthy by even looking at that. And what’s a fried truck without dessert? Of late their Donuts, current flavors taken inspiration from their friends at Tattersall, have seen much feature.

Now is the time to see if they can live up to the hype, as those that invested and those that just really love the idea of this truck hope and pray for them to survive on our local roads. Let’s see what chance they have at this.

20150822_213859

Food: 9.5

                To my surprise the Fried Walleye Sandwich comes in two sandwiches, each with a single batter-fried walleye filet, their Citrus-Apricot-Coleslaw, Tartar Sauce (of course), and half a white country bun/baguette for each. I think I saw a picture once that had their sandwich in a pretzel bun, so not sure if I mistook it, it was for something else, or they just switch it out every here and there, like the batter. Let’s start with the fish. Heaven. There done? Oh I need more details don’t I? You get the kind of fish cooked to a point where the flesh is almost melting in how it flakes, and then surrounded by thick, crunchy-fried beer batter, hot from the friar to steam your mouth, forcing you to pause and take your time. A faint amount of friar grease makes itself present on the palate, and that being near the end of the night, which is rather impressive compared to some other fried foods I’ve had.

The slaw is delightfully refreshing and creamy, an one does get those notes of citrus every now and then, really distinguishing it as their own and proving why it’s so classically paired to ‘contrast’ the richly-cooked fish. Didn’t get a lick of the apricot though, not sure what that was about. I like the tartar sauce, tasted on its own one can see it’s of an unctuous ‘fatty’ style, probably from the amount of sour cream and mayo, with this sort of deep tang. And the bread was good, not toasted on the inside but the outside got it at some point so the texture was there while the softer inside cradled its package.

20150822_220633

I’ve had a lot of Cheese Curds, and a lot of them have used good cheese from local and/or organic/sustainable farms, but this feels to be the first time where it REALLY expresses this fact on the plate… er, basket… actually, in the mouth. The curds on their own were so creamy, gooey, and just plain craveable. If I had to pick my personal ‘ideal cheese curds,’ I know everyone has their favorite at the State Fair and whatnot, these would be it. Besides that cheese, the batter formed a completely even coating, thin but still crispy and textural. It made me very confused as to whether I liked it better with or without the wonderfully creamy and spicy ‘Baeoli’… aioli with beer.

It’s a shame I ended up on one of the few nights which they only had one beer to make the batter with (Bauhaus’ Wonderstuff by the way), though I’m not quite sure how much of a difference it would have made. Despite intense testing of the batter, on its own and with the food, I wasn’t quite sure I could notice any particular flavor from the distinctive beer itself. Structure, as I’ve said, certainly; I can’t recall the last time I’ve had fried beer batter that good, at least in Minnesota.

20150822_220743

We finish with the Southside Donuts, their little ‘donut holes’ served with a Juniper-Lime Syrup; they call it a glaze, but really it’s this thin syrup on the bottom of the basket, which I delight in rolling the donuts around to coat before popping in my mouth. I do wish the juniper flavor came out more in it too; the acidity is there, but actual flavors are subtle, and I really wish I could EXPERIENCE it, get it upfront. The menu said #BOOM… I wanted the boom –innocent little tear-. Donut on itself was… interesting. Not in a bad way, just in that I’m not sure how to exactly describe or judge the style; I think it’s similar to the brioche-dough-doughnuts. Given the style, I do believe the structure was done well, and once again is fried well, not dry or doughy. Sadly not what I had expected them to be; but now we know what they’re coming out with so you know what to get excited about.

20150822_220838

Look at that cheese stretch!

Holdability: 7

               Officially basket, and in the future bowl, food; besides the hand-picked donuts and curds, or fork-required salad, the slaw and sauce on these sandwiches seem quite eager to attack my fingers. Even when I tried actively pushing them down between fish and bun(an idea I used to unjustifiably inflate my own pride), still had some veggies and tartar notably fall out, so it was a good thing the basket was there; and yes you’ll want napkins as you thoroughly gulf down these bad boys in a creamy affair.

Price: 7.5

                $12 for the Sandwiche/s, $6 each for the other fried items, and $8 on that salad; so ultimately the main item, if getting for oneself, is a bit in the higher range for truck entrees, the curds seem about right, but do think we should be getting more of those simple donuts if having to pay $6 for them.
20150822_213433

Speed: 7

The wait felt noticeable; for the sandwich, that may have likely just been me, but I do swear the curds and donuts were longer than I expected for basket-snacks. And by that I mean a minute or two; also, NOT me saying this is taking longer than they should, they have definitely achieved that practically perfect deep fry, comes out hot and delicious… and one should be ordering this at a brewery anyway so, unlike me who has no life, you have a glass of beer and friends to keep company in those extra minute or two.

The TOE: 10

                What can I say about the truck’s concept and intrigue that hasn’t already drummed up excessive revenue for their kickstarter and media attention? Combine that with their strategic move of, as far as I can tell, ONLY parking at taprooms (or cocktail-rooms in Tattersall’s case) and events, which always have a strong local beer focus, and we have a big behemoth of a truck that melds fully into the environment while drawing us in with their appealing personality.

Want to mention the donuts again, mainly cuz, as mentioned, I was hoping they would be something different and reach a wholly unique (and again, more flavorful) Toe Ring status symbol for the truck. Perhaps if they covered it with a juniper-sugar, maybe a proper lime-frosting-glaze drizzled on top or on the side, or perhaps lime-scented white chocolate sauce…

Tally: 41/50

Final Thoughts

Now that Motley’s has gone to rest with their new restaurant, Brook’s High Batter comes in as one of the main trucks to stick to at our breweries. One could potentially get a basket for snacking at a festival, the only other place a deep-fried and beer-placed business such as this would excel in experience, but they do seem to be best when sat down alongside a nice big, rich glass of beer; ideally the one accompanying the batter-of-the-day.

Order the Walleye Sandwich with a friend; not only is it a great sandwich one can actually share without worrying about trading spit (you know unless that’s what you’re into), you’re basically getting a single delicious and reasonably-sized sandwich for $6 apiece, turning it into a better deal again. Ideally, this should also be hit at a gig where they do indeed have at least two different beer-based batters; that way when you get your obligatory Cheese Curds (Get Them! Seriously!), or perhaps their upcoming Bacon-Mac and Cheese, you can enjoy the spirit of the different preparations. Plus then you could tell me if you can actually taste the beer notes in each…

Advertisements

O’Cheeze

2014-05-10 12.56.53

http://www.ocheeze.com/home.html

https://www.facebook.com/o.cheeze.a.truck

Main Location: Minneapolis, St. Paul, etc

It is here! Finally, after a couple years with an uncomprehendible absence of a popular business idea that just makes sense, someone in Minnesota finally stepped forward to plant their feet and bring us that which we have sorely needed: a Grilled Cheese Sandwich Truck (I would have settled for a restaurant too, but mobile’s even better).

Those familiar with practically any post I’ve made are aware of my strong feelings and plight at the noted lack of this “theme” in our city’s culinary lineup, mobile or mortar. Well the wait and torture is over, for O’Cheeze has arrived to fill our stomach with happy, melty tidings. After marrying in 2013, the wedded owners quickly decided to take their very much shared love for the pressed dairy sandwich to business, moving to the streets to gift us all with the love of hot cheese between bread in the following year. And I thank them for it, god bless the both of you!

2014-05-10 13.10.41

The specific theme is Gourmet Grilled Cheese, and though the term “gourmet” can probably be debated on meaning, the fact that these are more than your average sandwich is definite! Options rotate very seasonally, with slices of crispy bread being stuffed with everything from avocados and bacon (an oft-seen item in the changing recipes) to mashed potatoes to macaroni and everything in between. From what I can tell, there do seem to be a few “constants,” in particular their main version of the classic, appropriately named the Not-so-Classic, filled with a sinful three-way of Irish Dubliner, Havarti, and Cheddar Cheese. A grilled Capresehas also found popularity, focusing on the melted Mozzarella with tomato, basil, and balsamic. But of course nothing stands out quite like the Macaroni and Cheese sandwich, served of course with an extra slice and cheese on top of the classic pasta. That one I want.

Of course they also have a few tomato-ey soup options, such as the Toma-Catoand Tortilla; I’m guessing at least one of them changes seasonally too.

Now we just need someone to open up a full-service restaurant and everything’d be money…

Food: 9

                Choices choices abound, it’s hard to pick just which sandwich to get to best encapsulate every single other, but at the end of the day I went with the presently seasonal Hooligan: the bastard offspring of a drunk Irishman and a Grilled Cheese (oh god why did I put that image into my own head…), they stuff this sandwich with a mound of Garlic Mashed Potatoes, an Irish Whiskey sauce, and a thick slice of Dubliner.

2014-05-10 13.16.02

And when I say a thick slice, I mean a THICK slice; look at that bad boy in the picture! Now that’s love right there, big and melted. The bread was cravingly crisply, just like it should be. Oh, and the potatoes… skin on, rough masher style potatoes, though still smooth, and full of delicious (but not sharp or pungent) garlic flavor, exactly how I like them. The sauce gave a noted tang and extra dimension within the mouth without being particular forward and demanding us to notice it. Put simply, this was a damn good sandwich, and if it’s any indication then I’d say the rest follow suit, though likely in their own ways (I doubt the Capreseis quite as “sinful”).

Misgivings for me are two-fold, the first being the odd inclusion of puffed rice “tortilla chips” on the side, which are a different and fun little side over fries and chips, and I think they’re supposed to be cheese flavored (though doesn’t taste like it), but it just feels a bit useless to me. The second oddity for me is a slight disconnect from the “ideal,” original style (or technique?) of a good grilled cheese. Hard to say what I mean, but there’s not really much Press to these, the bread and ingredient aren’t that pushed down into a tight, almost Panini-like bundle. And the cheese, so delicious and good, still has yet to reach that almost overflowing, gooey melted presence. Though I’m guessing the Not-so-Classicreaches this sort of state that I’m thinking of, with its inclusion of Cheddar and lack of bulky ingredients, it would be great if they got their other sandwiches to reach this pinnacle. Not that they aren’t already amazing, I’m just nitpicking them in terms of perfection.

You know what, why I didn’t get a bowl of soup while I was there I don’t know. It’s only classic to eat grilled cheese with Tomato soup, and getting a combo would not have cost that much extra. Being at a Rally, I guess the excitement of the event and back-thoughts telling me to conserve money for other things ruled out, and I missed an opportunity to give a full report. For that, I apologize, and I promise to grab a bowl of soup and completely update on its quality the next chance I see them. Though logic holds that the Toma-Cato(or whatever seasonal soup they have) is gonna be pretty darn good. They’d probably give some actual use to that side of rice-tortillas.

Holdability:8.5

                Probably one of the easiest things one can eat out of a basket as it is, grilled cheese being purely designed to have everything stick and stay in its place despite all the gooey meltiness. Though this can only go so far when being served in a basket, forced out of the throne of one-handed perfection it so deserved due to the oddly useless choice of those “chips” on the side.

2014-05-10 13.08.39

Price:9.5

                  $7for the Mac and simple all-cheese sandwiches, with $8for all containing different ingredients. Though the soups come in at $4 for a cup and $5a bowl (great deal for those wanting a big helping of liquid warmth), they offer a $2off deal for a combo. A great excuse to bring one back to their childhood of eating Grilled Cheese and Campbell’s.

Speed:8.5

               About an average wait, not too long; probably even better considering the number of people ahead of me. Soups are likely to be instantaneous, and though most sandwiches (I saw them place the mac n cheese in a sauté pan to warm, not sure if it’s done to order or if they warm batches in preparation for the the sandwich) are put together ahead of time, it still takes a couple minutes to properly griddle and crunchify the buttered bread.

2014-05-10 13.11.11

The TOE:10

                You know what, for once I don’t even feel like I need to explain myself here with how much I’ve cried for this truck to be born. Though why they have their own awesome scooter I don’t know… but I want one. OH, and I like their menu design (alright last thing).

Tally:45.5/50

2014-05-10 12.55.45

Final Thoughts

Ummm, go here? Now? About sums it up. It doesn’t fit the “snack stop” theme, but the sandwiches are great for any of those seeking the now-classic street food fare, whether it’s to experience the “new” and “sorta-hipster” versions of an old favorite or to simply be brought back to nostalgia. It’s an ideal walk-and-it, and the combo makes a great sit-down meal.

My main sandwich suggestions revolve around the Mac and Cheese(god that’s so good) and any Seasonal which contains a healthy dose of Bacon and/or Mashed Potatoes, the Hooliganand B.A.C.H.N. being prime examples of the recent weeks. Though the Not-so-Classicis always a solid choice when one’s simply aching for the basic, cheese-centric and crispy deliciousness.

2014-05-10 13.13.19

If getting soup, which is one of the better cost meal deals in the mobile line-up, I would advise choosing whichever option sticks closest to the simple, Tomato-centeredoption (I like a good Tortilla soup but it doesn’t necessary draw much appeal here).

Smack Shack Happy Hour

SAMSUNG

                 Despite the many trucks I’ve been to so far and the many city restaurants I crave to visit, for research or personal reasons, I don’t actually get that many opportunities to go out, especially with my new work schedule (would think getting paid might help my cause but… not so much). Imagine my delight when, after joining multiple groups on the Meetup website (which is a great way for those house-stuck people like me to find ways and excuses to get out and socialize), my first opportunity knocked right into my ballpark: Happy Hour at the Smack Shack Restaurant.

SAMSUNG

                Finally I can check them off my list, and soon before I’m about to hit Vellee Deli’s pop-up too! As for my little socialization thing, it was fun and eventful and a great way to spend a couple hours, but let’s get to what really matters (particularly with this blog); the Food.

SAMSUNG

                Let me just say that walking in is the first experience in culinary delight, as the long, skinny high hallway ends right before the main bar, of which is connected to the giant Boiler Pot swimming in onions and spices (at first I wondered if it was just a big thing of popular soup or sauce or something, but nope, they use the same big thing to cook aaaaalllllll their boils. Makes me wonder of the awesomeness in flavor development as the night progresses), the aroma wafting up as one views the windowed kitchen from afar.

SAMSUNG

                From there one can continue forward or turn into the larger bar area (not sure if Happy Hour has to be there, never asked, sorry!), lined on the left with their glass case of various kegs and bottled beer selections. I mean why store them in the back when they can all be lighted and on display?

SAMSUNG

                After ordering a Fulton Ringer (sadly I wish they had more and interesting beers on their Happy Hour, like their drink menu, but Fulton and Summit were sorta the limit), looking very odd next to the piles of Hurricane Glasses around me (and no I’m not sure if they were better than New Orlean’s, but one can always guess; still tasty though), I placed a couple food bids from the well-priced Happy Hour selections.

SAMSUNG

                For my first time here, I of course had to stick with some truck-reminiscent items (though I guess most of the happy hour selections were of that locale), in particular a Fried Oyster Slider. Oh, I haven’t had fried oysters in a long while, and this was a good one to come back to. Batter was good, firm and crispy, with a soft, juicy, tender inside which still contains that nice little grey-ish (I’ve discovered I like describing flavors and aromas in colors at times) briny flavor. And the mayo sauce was good too.

SAMSUNG

                Next plate went to a couple Short Rib Tacos, made of course from Masa as it should be. Now, I love a good Short Rib, and the flavor from these were certainly proper, but it feels like they missed the mark a bit. For starters, the meat didn’t feel as tender and moist and juicy as it can be; not DRY, but like some pulled pork. I mean, if you KNOW beef short ribs, and what they can taste like after long hours of moist, rich braising…. awww man, they can just epitomize that peak of melty beefy heaven. And the texture here just seemed at a noticeably lower stepping stone than what it should be.

SAMSUNG

                Secondly, I think the tacos needed at least one or two more elements; other ones I saw had a few toppings, while this only had pickled onions and pickled red peppers; which were good, but bare and very singular in note. Well, and a sauce too, but on bottom and very inline with the short rib flavors. Maybe just a sprinkle of queso blanco, or a little herby corn salsa mixed into the sauce, and it would have been PERFECT.

                Mind you, again, it tasted pretty darn good overall, but knowing what these guys can do I’m just surprised at what was offered over the simple possibility.

SAMSUNG

                Of course, though this was all I ate, I had to take pictures of my colleague’s food. Both Pork and Catfish tacos were offered, and they looked GOOD (see, look at all those toppings on the fish one).

SAMSUNG

                A Cobb Salad featuring a heaping pile of Lobster Meat, and of course some of that signature toasted Milk Bread on the side in place of croutons.

SAMSUNG

                Someone had gotten the Blackened Catfish Slider, and god I was tempted to steal a piece of that fish; very much wish I had ordered that. It’s on the Happy Hour too, and I’m betting one of the best deals for it.

SAMSUNG

                And it’s not a Smack Shack Dining Event without one of their Mac n Cheeses, here served into a proper soup bowl as opposed to the giant paper-made bar trays (so annoying when dealing with the leftovers). I think they got Bacon, but not too sure; and for those who still have yet to have or hear of this, it’s a must-get. Made with Taleggio cheese, it’s a much stronger and more “distinctive” flavor, but good with the bacon or lobster.

                Sadly, no one getting the traditional Roll, but I’m sure it tastes just as good as it has before. Overall I had fun, the menu was as interesting as before, a little pricey as expected though there area  few good deals here and there (especially in Happy Hour), and I was able to scratch them off my list. I do regret and wish I could have tried those Lobster Corn Dogs, but we can’t have everything I guess.

SAMSUNG

                If you ever wanna experience Smack Shack, definitely go here; I still think that their concept is much better as a sit-down Lunch or Dinner affair than on the street, and there are a lot more various fun and interesting options. Plus, you can drink, and who doesn’t love that?

                Good Boils and Great Claw Crushing to you all, thank you to the particular social group for having me on, and I wish everyone reading luck in their street-food-related adventures!

Midnord Empanada Truck

me1

http://midnord.com/ 

https://twitter.com/MidNordTrucks

Main Location: St. Paul

             Started by Minnesotan Phil Gaffney, a 4-year veteran in of NY food trucks, MidNord serves traditional Empanadas. Various offerings changing daily, Phil offers both traditional Ecuadorian and Minnesotan fillings. On any given visit, one can find Tucuman Beef, Cuban Pork, Juicy Luicy, or Mac and Cheese, and that’s not even half of it. They also offer Tostones, a Central/South American side involving smashing pieces of Plantains (really savory, starchy bananas) and frying them.

me3

            MidNord doesn’t just stop at savory though, the menu also contains a seasonal dessert-filled empanada. Examples of these include Apple Pie, Pumpkin, and Nutella-Banana. All served, much like the savory, with their own accompanying dipping sauce.

            My first experience of MidNord luckily happened to be on their debut day during the 2012 Canterbury Food Truck Event. Since then they have settled their days of business with St. Paul’s Downtown, adding themselves to the already impressive lineup.

Food: 10

            Okay, they are REALLY good. Fried to order, Tucuman-style Empanadas are rich, flavorful, a little complex with the spices, and just plain juicy. The Mac and Cheese is HOMEMADE, and not just generic “Cheese+Noodles=It’ll work.” This is a creamy white cheese mac, mixed with chives, perfectly cooked noodles… you want to have it as is, and they shoved it inside a dough of deep fried, savory goodness. I do believe they change the mix seasonally, though, so you make get a richer Cheddar-based one in the Winter. They then served both of them with respectful sauces; a flavorful chile broth for the beef… I forgot what for the Mac, but it was good.

           Apple pie made sense to me, but then I got it, and saw that “Hey, this is made in the same really savory dough as the others… it’s not even rolled in cinnamon-sugar or anything…” I was put back quite a bit, it didn’t seem like it would work.

me4

           Then I had it.

           It worked. Don’t ask me how, but it worked. It was delicious, the filling wasn’t the gooey apple, just tender and spicy and rich. Dipped in the spiced caramel, it was the perfect self-indulgent, guilty street food dessert.

           Nice and crunchy, the empanada has that nice fried-dough crust, a little thin and soft on the inside to perfectly hold the insides. The little pressed edge is nice and big, too, giving you that extra piece of crispy dough with the rich filling.

           As for the Tostones, they’re flat and crispy, but sort of just taste like regular potatoes; used to be a worse. I like the fact that they now include one with each Empanada order. I guess I like a different kind of plantain though, for having as-is.

Holdability: 7

           A little surprising, not to mention disappointing, considering the traditional hand-held design of a proper Empanada. However, they end up served two in a basket, very hot inside from the friar, on the side of which is a little plastic cup with the dipping sauce. The lid is already snapped on tight, and you have to maneuver to take it off, keep it steady, try to dip and eat it without spilling any. Considering they use very flavorful broths for many “dips,” it can be quite tricky.

           At the least, the empanadas themselves hold up very well when basket-separated.

Price: 9

           The empanadas are very well priced at a good deal, offering two each with an order. Though it is very tempting to grab a Mac and Cheese and/or a Dessert along with your main choice, which will easily add to costs.

Speed: 8.5

           Have to wait for them to fry, but that doesn’t take too long.

The TOE: 10

me2

           Empanadas are a great focus for a Food Truck. Phil really takes the chance and potential to stuff them with a good variety of very creative, flavorful fillings. It succeeds in so many of the same ways that Potter’s does, besides their smaller size and basket serving. My favorite aspect of this truck is that the Mac and Cheese and Dessert-based options BOTH act as individual Toe Rings. They give that experience of going up to the menu, taking a quick look and stopping as you see them, your thoughts filled with nothing but “Ohhhhhh I have GOT to try those.”

            I am very happy and thrilled to have these guys as a part of our Food Truck family, and hope you get the chance to experience them soon.

Service: +2

            Normally baskets come with two empanadas. On my second visit, though, I wanted to try both Mac and Apple, but didn’t want to buy 4 whole empanadas, not to mention pay for all of that. Considering that, the Chef gladly made me a basket (well, two separate to help me tell) of one each, and priced it for a regular basket cost. It’s a great Service quality, and I think they deserve an extra couple points because.

                      Tally: 46.5/50

Final Thoughts

            Can still be used on the go if only grabbing one item (orders of more can be wrapped individually and put in a bag), they’re really great when you can stop and sit on a bench, rest on a post, etc.

            Though I love the Mac and Cheese, I would suggest starting with a different item, probably one of the Tucuman’s. If you can and want to, grab an Apple Pie or whatever dessert they have at the time to. Save the Mac for its own special showcase later.

            Skip the Tostones, they’re not really good enough to buy a whole basket on their own.

R.A. Mac Sammy’s

rms1

ramacsammys.com/

https://twitter.com/RAMacsammys

 

Main Location: St. Paul, Office Buildings, Etc

            Upon opening and debuting a Truck, it ends up very rare that any paper or internet-based publicity will choose to report. This leads to many Food Trucks relying solely on building a reputation and clientele on their own, through word of mouth. A very unique truck it is that can acquire immediate recognition.

            R.A. Mac Sammy’s was one of those trucks, its name and food being exclaimed and written in many a web-based local updates; a paper article or two as well.

            The reason? R.A. Mac Sammy’s peddles out that ubiquitous mix from a box loved by both kids and adults alike throughout the entirety of the Nation. Of course I’m talking Mac n Cheese, that warm, gooey mess of noodles and dairy. Served countless number of ways from stirred on the pot to baked in a restaurant with who knows what added to it, this dish always tends to draw its crowd of fans wherever plated. Yet if there were to be any region within the U.S. to appreciate it more, that cold-winded, comfort-food loving Midwest we all call dear would stand tallest.

            Mac’s takes advantage of this deep-seated nostalgia wonderfully, offering a simple-yet-flexible set of options for your choosing. One can have the seasonal Macaroni, a special mix of chosen ingredients to that month, or the simple Mac… built with any other ingredient you want, from hot dogs to jalapenos to broccoli to bacon (is there any doubt they wouldn’t have bacon?). These are offered in large or medium/small orders, dependent on your craving.

rms3

            With only a 4-burner stove and small griddle to cook your order from, Mac’s has developed of genius way for customization while turning out a high order volume. Cooking the entirety of noodles with the creamy, tangy cheese sauce in 1-2 large pans, all added ingredients are then grilled on the flat-top. Piled on top at the end, along with a sprinkling of pre-toasted breadcrumbs for that familiar crunch of the home-made baked noodles. One can dig and mix as you please.

            Besides the Mac n Cheese, they also offer Smoked Bratwurst and two griddled sandwiches; a Grilled 4-Cheese, and Meat and Cheese of some sort. Homemade brownies available occasionally, great for office workers looking for lunch and dessert.

Food: 9

            The noodles are tender without being too soft, the cheese of the white and creamy variety, a small amount of tang; the toasted breadcrumbs offer a good texture. Sandwiches I have not tried yet, but from their chef-born inspirations, I would be shocked if they’re anything less than cheesy goodness.

rms2

            Though griddling the additional ingredients on the side is a very smart and necessary protocol for them to do, the sad truth is that no doubt loses a small amount of that beautiful effect achieved from slowly cooking everything together in that bubbly cheese sauce. Delicious as it is, they are unable to reach the peak of Mac n’ Cheese-dom that many restaurants have shown.

Holdability: 6

             Mac n’ Cheese is mac n’ cheese, can’t really do anything besides holding in some box or bowl. Now, as far as other similar street food items go, this one is a little easier to eat from the box with a fork. The cheese IS nice and gooey, with little to no mess.

            For the walkability-concious, the sandwiches should offer less problem, grilled cheese especially. Yet even they are served in a basket with chips; both hands will be needed. I can’t bout for the holdability of the Grilled Meat, Cheese, etc sandwiches.

            It certainly does make one think; how much greater their menu would be if they offered a Fried-Mac-on-a-Stick of some sort. Maybe wrapped around a hot dog or brat beforehand… I say we start petitioning and suggesting, see if we can get them to add it!

Price: 9.5

            $8 for the Special and $7 for the classic, with a charge of only $4 for the “mini mac”.  50cents per addition, cost can build up enough for consideration if you’re getting a large (which I rarely find need of). Less of an issue for those only getting 1-2 things, but for the foodies like me who crave abundance, it’s something to think about.

            On the lighter side, both the Brat and Grilled Cheese stand at $5, keeping for different options.

Speed: 7

             Still fast for a Mac n Cheese, but when you have a small line of orders in front of you, it can take a while to get to the group of tickets with your order. I was quite time-conscious when I ordered, and ended up standing there for longer than I wanted. Best ordered when there are still only very few people in line at the time of purchase.

The TOE: 9

             Very unique and well executed Truck that pulls at the strings of comfort we all keep in our stomach. The only thing that’s noticeably missing is that ONE unique-yet-simple, pure-street-food related item that you can’t find anywhere. That kind of menu item is always a special occurrence, and you shall see me allude to it every now and then. For sometimes, somehow, it is only that one small item that magically lifts an entire restaurant or truck to an entirely different level in our minds and hearts.

             Despite that one thing missing, and believe me they aren’t the only truck without it, R.A. Mac Sammy’s has been welcomed to our City with open arms. The truck is now here to stay, to the happiness of all our cravings.

                      Tally: 40.5/50

Final Thoughts

            Warm and comforting, the Mac n Cheese is that perfect street food when you’re out in the cold Fall and Winter (one of the few trucks that stays out most of the year). Of course, any season I would suggest jumping on the rich noodles; custom order on your first visit, get the seasonal on the second (if you like how it sounds). After that go for the sandwiches.

            No matter what the situation, I would not suggest your first visit be anything but the actual Macaroni. If you’re looking for a more portable item between bread, go somewhere else until you’ve had the true heart of R.A. Mac Sammy’s. 

            Oh, and get the half-order; the full is a LOT.