By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Aug 28, 2017 at 11:02 AM

As we announced on Friday, Grate Modern Mac and Cheese opens Tuesday, Aug. 29 at 10:30 a.m. But, we took one for the team and got a sneak peek of its offerings during a private soft opening last week. And it’s just as remarkably cheesy as you’d expect.

The look and feel of the fast casual counter service restaurant is clean and modern, featuring brick and wood with charcoal and black accents. Guests order food at the counter and then take a seat at their choice of wooden booths.

Meanwhile, each ceramic skillet of macaroni and cheese is prepared assembly-line style before being baked in the Wood Stone deck oven.

Bubbling baked macaroni and cheese dishes are then delivered directly to your table.

The menu features 10 varieties of macaroni and cheese (in both small and regular portions for $6-9:50 each), along with a gluten-free version and a sampler platter featuring shareable portions of eight types of macaroni and cheese for $18.

Two salads are available including a market salad with arugula, glazed walnuts, dried cranberries, blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette ($6) and a chicken bacon Caesar salad with romaine, chicken, bacon, parmesan, pretzel croutons and Caesar dressing ($7).

Meanwhile, a kids meal (the "Lil’ Sconnie") features a small serving of classic mac with hot dog slices, a side of apple slices or goldfish crackers and a beverage for $6. And dessert options include confetti and cream or chocolate chip cookie dough dip served with vanilla wafers for $2.50.

On our visit, we tried three types of macaroni and cheese: buffalo chicken, bacon cheeseburger and pizza. Each was uniquely presented and, quite frankly, tasty.

The buffalo chicken – which was spot on in terms of that classic buffalo wing flavor – features mozzarella, cheddar and blue cheese with chicken, buffalo sauce, green onions and carrot ($7.50/9.50).

The bacon cheeseburger – aptly topped with a Miller Baking Company Pretzilla roll and pickles – features mozzarella and cheddar cheeses with pieces of beef burger patty, bacon, arugula and thousand island dressing ($7.50/9.50). And, yes, it pretty much tastes like a cheeseburger with the works collided with a bowl of creamy macaroni and cheese.

The same goes for the pizza mac, which is topped with pizza sauce, pepperoni and oregano. It’s reminiscent of a better quality version of the macaroni and cheese pizza that was popular in the '80s thanks to the recipe on the back of the Kraft macaroni and cheese box.

Other flavors include the Wisconsin with bratwurst and caramelized onions; nacho featuring seasoned ground beef, pico de gallo, jalapenos and sour cream garnished with tortilla chips; bacon and blue featuring classic mac with blue cheese and bacon; green chile featuring classic mac with spicy green chile sauce; and chicken bacon jalapeno ranch with chicken, bacon, jalapenos and ranch dressing.

Beginning Aug. 29, Grate Modern Macaroni and Cheese is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.