kitschparade, his partner T, and I met at Union restaurant at the appointed time, and waited in line. And waited some more. Because everyone was supposed to be there at 6:30, and everyone was. They decided to take payment up front (before you were seated), which made some sense, but neglected to have any credit card machines near the door. So each card had to be ran somewhere else; this did not make for a smooth entry. Also, the $45 fee turned out not to be inclusive, since tax and tip were added on top; getting a $25 gift certificate for the restaurant somewhat mitigated this. Then, they didn't have assigned tables. No, it was open seating. Given how overcrowded it was, we were lucky to eventually find a space at the bar. The mac'n'cheese entries were setup buffet style, which took up another 1/4 of the already tiny floor space and meant all the kitchen space went largely unused. So, yeah, poor planning all the way. While there was nowhere near enough of the specialty beers to go around, we did have a few glasses of a very, very good Belgian beer that I have lost the name of. Oh, yeah, the beers were provided by a Rare Beer Club which I may have to join.
That said, there were a number of interesting takes on the classic dish. The most popular seemed to be the one made with white truffle oil (mmm). Other favorites were a pesto version, a surprisingly good smoked cheddar dish, a mozzarella spiked one, and a Cheez-It topped one. There was a very cute entry that had a plate of $1 bills for "garnish". I have no idea which was the winner, and several web searches are coming up empty. Meh.