News & Politics

Vidalia versus Oohhs and Aahhs Mac-and-Cheese

We asked four randomly chosen Washingtonian tasters which they preferred.

November 2005

We bought macaroni-and-cheese at Vidalia, the Southern-themed restaurant that has been one of DC's top fine-dining destinations. Then we bought macaroni-and-cheese at Oohhs and Aahhs, a soul-food kitchen on DC's U Street. How would two dishes so different in price and pedigree but bearing the same name stack up against each other?

We replated the two macs in our test kitchen to level the playing field and set them out side by side on square white plates. We asked four randomly chosen Washingtonian tasters which they preferred.

Their favorite? The humble yellow-cheddar-drenched elbow macaroni from Oohhs and Aahhs ($3.50). Our panelists praised its "perfect texture," its "good, cheesy flavor," its "great ratio of noodles to cheese."

The $6.75 Vidalia version–pasta shells in a cream sauce laced with Grafton cheddar and bits of ham and topped with crumbled Ritz crackers–tasted "more like a cheesy pasta dish, with the ham and the sauce" than mac 'n' cheese to one of our panelists. Some found it "too grown-up" or "too busy." Most noted an aftertaste.

The Upstairs/Downstairs Scorecard (out of 100)

Oohhs and Aahhs 85

Vidalia 77.5

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.