How about upping the ante with everyone’s favorite carbo-licious item?
S’mac is a lactose intolerant person’s nightmare. It stared in the East Village but has now branched out to Murray Hill. The uptown branch isn’t large, but it is well laid out with spacious booths and a casual, bright decor. This isn’t a destination-worthy atmosphere, but great for a spur of them moment dinner with friends or colleagues.
The deal here is mac and cheese, all day every day. Tons of varieties Tons of options to build your own dream mac and cheese. All cooked to order in cast iron skillets, served bubbling and hot with small plastic forks. Though you can order your own dish in any number of sizes, the best thing to order here offers a little taste of almost everything on the menu.
Behold, 8 of S’mac’s most popular flavors:
All-American – the Kraft version, done with more substantial noodles and a creamier base. Tangy with American cheese and none too complicated, this is the mac and cheese of your youth.
4 Cheese – cheddar, muenster, Gruyere and Pecorino cheeses. Exceedingly well balanced with nutty and sharp tastes. The melted cheese on top adds the right amount of crunch to the simple but perfectly done mac and cheese. This was my companion’s favorite mac and cheese of the night.
Cheeseburger – the All-American with sauteed ground beef. If there’s something wrong with this, I don’t know what it is. It’s a cheeseburger in pasta form.
La Mancha – Spanish style, with Manchego cheese, and sauteed fennel and onions. The fennel is quite dominant, licoricey and grassy against the tangy Manchego cheese. The sweet onions bring out the savory, earthy side of the fennel and the result is very complex and one of my favorite picks of the evening. If you like fennel, this one is for you!
Cajun – Cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, andouille sausage, green pepper, onions, celery, garlic and, Cajun seasoning. This one fell flat for me. Not the nuanced, carefully seasoned Cajun food that I had in Louisiana, this was more a mish mosh of strong flavors, limp peppers, and rather (shockingly!) tasteless andouille. This was the only downer for me, and though the noodles were cooked well, the flavors didn’t do it for me.
Napoletana – fresh mozzarella, roasted garlic, tomatoes, and basil . This was my other favorite version! How many times have we all had ill-imagined caprese-salad in pasta form? This is SO not that. This is a creamy, rich, delightfully cheesy sauce that is buttery without being a total gut bomb. Hidden within the sauce are juicy hunks of tomato fresh, citrusy basil, and sweet cloves of soft roasted garlic. This is like high end pizza buried under a blanket of crispy, bubbly mozzarella cheese.
Alpine – Gruyere cheese and slab bacon. Soft, salty, smoky bacon. Nutty, tangy Gruyere. If this were any more Swiss or I were any more happy, it would turn into a Riccola commercial This is a heavy one, so don’t get a large order of this unless you are ready to take a major nap right after eating.
Parisienne – brie, roasted figs, roasted shiitake mushrooms, and rosemary. For the serious sweet tooth. The figs are so soft and sweet that they continuously threaten to overpower the mild mushrooms The brie is also soft, and through the rosemary adds a woodsy, deep note, the entire effect is a little too one note for my tastes.
In general, though, S’mac nails it. The price is right, the service is fast, and the goods are at LEAST as tasty as what you could make at home. The portions are extremely fair, and a sampler feeds 2 people comfortably.
Don’t worry – if you’re still hungry, you can always order more mac and cheese for dessert.