Hail, Seitan!! And The Best "Made-To-Order" Mac & Cheese This Side of the Pearly Gates

Categories: Off the Menu

Mac&Cheese.jpg
Daniel Rodrigue
For the better part of the past five years, chef Rosanne DiLeo worked the kitchen at The Libertine Bar on Lower Greenville. As she heard regular customers beginning to ask for more vegan dishes, DiLeo says she decided to incorporate more options on the menu and in the kitchen. And, for the past few months, the folks at The Libertine Bar continuously increased the amount of seitan (a wheat-based meat substitute) kept on hand as more vegetarians and vegans have caught on to the kitchen's various meatless dinner options. (If they serve it on the menu with meat, then just ask your server if there is a vegan off-the-menu option available.)

Two bartenders promised us the vegan seitan tacos and the ginger beef salad (with seitan subbed for the beef) were delicious. But the kitchen's real off-the-menu show-stealer happens to be a simple side dialed up to 11 - the "made-to-order" macaroni and cheese. "People have taken mac and cheese from just a side dish, and made it into dinner," DiLeo says on a busy Tuesday evening.

The kitchen staff plates the made-to-order mac and cheese in a larger dish than the usual side order. When served, the plate looks like a typical dinner portion of pasta, but this is not your run-of-the-mill pasta bowl. Imagine a steaming-hot pile of al dente penne basking in the smokiness of melted Gruyere cheese and cream that is then mixed with sautéed portobello mushrooms, fresh spinach, roasted garlic and your choice of carameled red, green or white onions. That choose-your-own-adventure dish makes for a seriously addictive mac mélange. And one bartender recommended trying bacon, tomato, and spinach, so we added jalapeño and green onions. It was amazing.

So, if it's on the menu or in the kitchen at The Libertine, then they can stir it into the mac and cheese. Customers have added everything from lamb to duck to veggieburger to steak, peppers and onions. One guy even added an order of hog wings. Can't wait to try that one.

"It's really whatever you can think of," DiLeo said. "It's so wide open, it's hard to even nail down all the possibilities."

Also, if you sit at the bar, ask for the hush-hush "This Charming Man" drink menu.

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17 comments
kaitmoss
kaitmoss

Chef Ro is very talented and unfortunately underrated in a city full of top chefs.  Libertine is a hidden neighborhood gem and deserves more spotlight like this one.  Thanks for sharing!

moconnor87
moconnor87

Im sorry but I've always hated Libertines mac n cheese, there's a few things wrong with it. First its not even close to being a macaroni noodle (my main critique - penne WTF?) and the cheese is just not right. It's almost too smooth, need more of a kick or something. Side note: If you're looking for a good sandwich there order the tuna burger, delicious.  

I also love being a carnivore but seitan is the next best thing (had it a few times at spiral). I guess I need to try the mac again all jazzed up before I put the nail in the coffin. But am I the only one who has a problem with this or noticed it before?

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

If I could get consistently good seitan and tofu dishes I could most likely swear off animal flesh.  I'd still eat eggs and dairy products, though.

lmfp
lmfp

Some vegetarians don't eat meat but eat dairy.  There are different types.  Vegans do not eat any animal products of any kind.

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

Since when do vegetarians and vegans eat Gruyere and cream?

Nictacular
Nictacular

I had some seitan reuben in Philly back in December. It was awesome.

DanielRodrigue
DanielRodrigue

@moconnor87 Don't know what to tell you. I know plenty of people who have enjoyed The Libertine's "too-smooth" version for years who managed to overlook the not-a-macaroni-noodle thing. If it needs a kick, then next time maybe add some jalapeños, grilled peppers or Sriracha? 

Nictacular
Nictacular

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz No, it was at a place called Local 44. It's not far from Penn (we walked down there later that evening), but it was awesome. They also have a mushroom and salsify ragout that is pretty boss...and vegan.

To balance out the reuben, lady friend and I split an order of the bone marrow as an appetizer.

http://www.local44beerbar.com/index.htm

Nictacular
Nictacular

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Awesome! I really dig that place. I also dig the New Deck Tavern right near Penn and also a joint called Cavenaugh's. Have fun!

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