Mactacular: Tasi Cafe

From the Mactacular: Tasi Cafe edition

Macaroni and Aged Cheddar with Peas and Black Forest Ham

The reason people are willing to struggle with weekend Short North parking only to wait in line at Tasi is because it's worth it. This Euro-stylish counter-order/claim-a-squatting-spot operation (some tables are communal) sells top-notch, scratch-made goodies for damn cheap.

Plus you can get a nice drink with your world-beat breakfast, creative sandwich or artisanal pastry - like fresh orange juice, real coffee, beer or vino. I'd say all that adds up to a not-so-covert display of counter intelligence. Now, if you're aware that Tasi is part of the Rigsby's mini-family of finer foods (Tasi is Mrs. Rigsby), then you won't be shocked by that.

The Hook: Seeing the forest and the peas

Big, firm cubes of Black Forest ham (slightly salty, delightfully chewy) play off the sweet earthiness of small green peas to bring Tasi's mac and cheese a kind of rusticity. But the dish is big-city too, due to its chives, onion, sharp aged cheddar and hint of truffles.

Plus this is the kind of mac that's crusted with toasty bread crumbs and forms strands of melty cheese when you pull back on your overtaxed eating utensil. In other words, while Tasi's mac is a tad fancy, it never loses grasp of its primary function of providing comfort. That's a mighty mac with something for everyone.