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Best New Restaurant

107-GF-MACS-mushroom-spinach

Popeye MAC at M.A.C.S.

A Wisconsin childhood consists of a few things: wobbling sausage races, Halloween costumes over snow suits, and warm macaroni and cheese. Nick and Jackie Morse’s Macaroni and Cheese Shop, or M.A.C.S., aims to embody the familiar comfort of mac and cheese — first in the Wisconsin Dells and now in Appleton.

M.A.C.S. opened its doors in the Fox Valley almost a year ago, when it brought its “fast casual” hot skillets to County Road KK. Nick Morse never tires of his signature dish. “It’s not just plain mac and cheese,” he says. “Our staff puts in a lot of heart and soul into the prep and cooking techniques, following recipes, and keeping up standards.”

A lot more goes into each toast-topped pan than mere macaroni. While Morse’s favorite Popeye Mac features grilled onion, mushroom, spinach and provolone, the Original Mac contains a rich family history.

The house recipe was “passed down through a generational recipe that family members have used,” 107-GF-MACS-SaladMorse says. “It’s … pretty much the heart and soul of the restaurant.”

Culinary juices run through Nick and Jackie’s veins: both sides of the family own and operate
restaurants. M.A.C.S.’ rustic hardwood and brick allows them to explore these familiar foods in fresh ways.

Customers may be well-versed in the popular Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac’s toppings, but – as Nick puts it – “when they actually try it, they see how the flavor profile mixes together and they actually taste the chicken and the bacon that we’re cooking in house and hand-cutting and seasoning ourselves with our staff.”

Nothing sits in a food warmer, and as much cooking as possible is done from scratch. If comfort food was a place, Morse says, it would be here.

“I think it feels just like the dishes you’re getting in front of you: it’s comfort,” he says. “I think it encompasses that: the enjoyment, the comfort, and … the down-home Wisconsin feel to it.” — LZ

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