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"I visited Lucas Park Grille during Downtown Restaurant Week in August and it was fabulous. ... The best part of our meal was the mac and cheese with lobster. It was nothing like any macaroni and cheese I've ever had."

At Lucas Park, lobster and other slightly unusual ingredients lend richness and flair to macaroni and cheese. "It's basically comfort food with a little twist," executive chef Kyle Patterson said.

It can be served as a side dish with plain grilled meat or seafood, as a first course or as a main dish. The innovation of using the leftover mac and cheese in a crispy, fried appetizer ball is a delicious surprise.

Patterson said that prepared roasted garlic from a jar could be substituted in this recipe. However, roasting your own yields a much milder, sweeter-tasting garlic, and it is easy to prepare. The oil from the roasting dish acquires a subtle, garlicky flavor, perfect for drizzling on greens or steamed vegetables.

Lucas Park Grille

1234 Washington Avenue

St. Louis

314-241-7770

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Lobster Mac and Cheese > Lucas Park Grille

Yield: 8 side-dish servings

1 pound elbow macaroni

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons butter, melted

3 1/4 cups whole milk

8 ounces mascarpone cheese

3 to 4 tablespoons roasted garlic (see note)

10 ounces mild Cheddar, shredded, or more to taste

8 ounces lobster claw and knuckle meat, chopped

Salt

Ground pepper

Grated Parmesan, for garnish

1. Cook macaroni until al dente; drain and keep warm.

2. In a small bowl, make a roux by whisking flour into melted butter. Set aside.

3. In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine milk, mascarpone and roasted garlic. Whisk over medium heat until smooth and steaming; whisk in roux and cook until thickened.

4. Add Cheddar to simmering sauce and whisk until incorporated. Fold in lobster. Add macaroni and simmer 2 minutes more or until heated through, stirring constantly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Chef's note: For a great fried mac-and-cheese appetizer, refrigerate leftovers overnight. Use an ice-cream scoop to form into 2-inch balls; freeze. Just before serving, roll balls in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Dip into beaten egg, then roll in panko bread crumbs. Deep-fry at 350 degrees for about 3 minutes or until golden brown.

Note: To roast garlic, slice the top 1/4 inch off of a whole, unpeeled bulb of garlic, exposing the pulp of each clove. Place in a shallow baking dish and drizzle with 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil (more if you want extra garlic-flavored oil to use in other dishes). Cover with foil and bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for 20 minutes or until pulp is soft, fragrant and golden brown. Cool. Squeeze pulp from bulb and mash. For convenience, roast several bulbs at a time, squeeze the roasted pulp into small plastic containers, and freeze for future use.

Per serving: 626 calories; 34g fat (49 percent calories from fat); 20g saturated fat; 120mg cholesterol; 30g protein; 50g carbohydrate; 7g sugar; 2g fiber; 340mg sodium; 445mg calcium; 360mg potassium.