IT'S NO SECRET THAT SOME school lunchrooms try to imitate commercial restaurants in look and feel (and menu as much as possible within nutrition guidelines). But who ever heard of a restaurant trying to imitate a school lunchroom?
Well, that's just what two Oakland restaurateurs, Erin Wade and Allison Arevalo, recently did. Their place, called Homeroom, specializes in mac and cheese dishes and also serves other traditional school lunch standards like grilled cheese sandwiches along with vegetable sides and desserts like brownies, root beer floats and peanut butter pie. Apparently, Wade and Arevalo missed the part about school lunches de-emphasizing fat and calories these days.
The décor includes a long community table fashioned from actual bleacher boards salvaged from an old high school gym, a chalkboard wall where customers can draw their own doodles and restrooms featuring school photos of staff and customers. Waiters carry the food on plastic trays.
Not everything is greasy kid stuff, though (“we didn't want a Chuck E. Cheese,” Arevalo told the San Francisco Chronicle). There's a wine list, craft beers, and mac 'n cheese recipes that have never seen the inside of a public school kitchen: Mac the Goat (made with chevre and sliced scallions), Gilroy Mac (gouda, pecorino and roasted garlic) and Mexican Mac (Niman Ranch chorizo, chipotle peppers, jack cheese and cilantro).
On the bright side, you have more than 20 minutes to eat, can always sit with your friends and pass all the notes you want. But, just like in a real school lunchroom, tossing the scallions or Niman Ranch chorizo at someone is discouraged…