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Sep 1, 2009 04:10 PM

Macaroni and Cheese Battle: Nook Vs. Baby Blues BBQ

Sometimes you have a bad day, and the only solution is starch with melted cheese. So for today's battle, we pit the much loved macaroni and cheese entrée at Nook Bistro against the southern-friendly side serving at Baby Blues BBQ. At Nook, the $9 lunch dish (available as a side during dinner) is made with parmesan, gruyere and cheddar, topped with bread crumbs, and served with a Caesar salad (in case you needed more cheese). At Baby Blues, you get a side order of their parmesan, cheddar, jack and blue cheese version for a mere $3.

The macaroni and cheese at Nook is surprisingly mild, despite using cheeses that can have a sharp bite to them when required. The crust, with its nice crunch, is probably the highlight, but the interior is still quite creamy and will go a long way toward curing your white collar depression. It is a macaroni and cheese, I suspect, that Coldplay fans might enjoy.

But if you get worn down by the world as a whole, and few things bring you more comfort than the sounds of John Lee Hooker, Baby Blues is what you're looking for. It's sloppier there, packed into a small cup and served by the oft scantily clad farmer's daughter-esque waitresses, alongside whatever down home fare floats your boat, like Memphis style ribs, collard greens or pulled pork. As far as I can gather, you can't order moonshine with it, but the fluffy and much more heavily seasoned varietal still holds up without it.

Either way though, fancy or casual, creamy or fluffy, alternative or blues, your stomach deserves that cheesy brick its been asking for. Time to succumb.

Nook Bistro
11628 Santa Monica Blvd Ste 9, Los Angeles, CA 90025

Baby Blues BBQ
444 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

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  1. You didn't say which one you prefer. What's the point of a battle unless you pick a winner?

    6 Replies
    1. re: houndofmusic

      The mac and cheese at Nook is hands down the better mac and cheese. The one from Baby Blues is cooked until it is almost mush. Neither of these hold a candle to the mac and cheese served at the Federalist in Boston.

      1. re: houndofmusic

        I think he's saying either "They're both good, depending," or "Your call". However, I think his sympathies are with BB BBQ rather more than with Nook - or is it wrong of me to detect a subtle put-down in the reference to Coldplay fans?

        1. re: Will Owen

          I don't know about Nook, but Baby Blues Mac n' Cheese was pretty week. Overall, I wasn't impressed with anything I ate there. Reminded me more of hospital cafeteria Mac n' Cheese than the good stuff. Just because John Lee Hooker is on the jukebox, that doesn't mean you understand the Blues.

          1. re: bsquared2

            Totally disagree re the mac and cheese at Baby Blues. There's definitely some velveeta taste (not a problem for me -- I love processed cheese food) but that's where the institutional comparison ends. BB's is much thicker and richer with a nice crust. I like the Nook version but I wish it were a bit thicker with some type of crust beyond the breadcrumbs sprinkled on top.

            PS: Rereading noahbites's review, I see a reference to parmesan and blue cheese in the mac and cheese at Baby Blues. Is this some new option? The mac and cheese I've always received has been all orange.

        2. re: houndofmusic

          I agree, what's your winner?

          Personally, I thought the mac n cheese at Baby Blues (like most of their stuff) was meh.

          Never tried Nook.

          1. re: mdpilam

            Haven't been to Nook, but I would have to imagine they are better.

        3. Anyone tried Jean Pierre's Alsatian mac n cheese at Cafe des Artistes in Hollywood. Magnifique!

          1. The mac and cheese at Baby Blue's isn't anything to rave about. I much prefer the super rich mac and cheese at Pete's Cafe, though I can only have a few bites because I'm lactose intolerant.

            Either way, there are PLENTY of places with better mac n cheese than BB Blues.

            1. Hi there Noah... I like 'em both, each for precisely the reasons you stated... As to which is better? My take on the matter is this: mac 'n cheese doesn't _have _ to be better at any given establishment. It's mac 'n cheese. How good does it _need_ to be? Just like every truckstop restroom should have a condom machine and every do-it-yourself carwash should have a 25-cent vacuum cleaner, every restaurant should have a version of mac 'n cheese. We need readily available condoms and carwash vacuums AND cheese-drenched pasta, because for a few cents or a few bucks we can keep the universe from falling away. The world is not made worse by a bad rendition of mac 'n cheese (in my opinion); the world is made worse by its absence (yes, even the Kraft stuff and hospital cafeteria versions). And let me say this about hospital mac 'n cheese: at the hospital, one's loved ones are undergoing difficult times; I'm not looking for a foodie revelatory experience in the cafeteria. I'm looking for something to do (eat mediocre food) to keep my mind off of the worry and suffering; the more pedestrian the food there, the more 'normal' the world seems during a time of family crisis. Anyway, I _want_ each version to be different, and i want to like each for their differences. That said, I'm looking forward to the version at Lemonade (Venice location), on my next visit there!