Hooked On S’Mac


S’Mac (Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese) | 345 East 12th St. (off 1st Ave.) | 212.358.7912 | www.smacnyc.com | | |

IT SEEMS WE JUST GOT out of the season of hot dogs, hamburgers, and barbecue beef and pork when all of a sudden, the holiday season is upon us, and all the whimsy and nostalgia of even greater amounts of comfort foods that come with. Macaroni and cheese is one such dish—many would argue that this particular dish is never really out of season—and with it another myriad interpretations and presentations of it.

The new-ish Lower East Side grub hut S’Mac has been serving their many options for a few years now, and, I guess in an attempt to get it out of the way before I start sampling the city’s, and my own, variations on meatloafs (meatloaves?), turkeys, stuffings, soups, etc., I hustled myself down 2nd Avenue, walking across 12th Street towards 1st Avenue and entering the familiar orange storefront to small, low-key space, again wisely showing up in the post-lunch, pre-dinner downtime. I was the only one in the place, so I was surprised not only that it took the cashier/waitress so long to take my order, but that she also felt the need to hand me one of those “order number” pole thingys.


S'Mac

S'Mac

S'Mac


Turns out, much like many of the new singular food item-themed restos that have popped up over the last 5 years or so, S’Mac offer several different takes on baked elbow macaroni with cheese, some creamy sauce, and various other vegetables, herbs, and meats. And much like it’s ideological clone MacBar, some mixes fare better than others, though, as always, that always depends on an individual’s taste.

And to appeal to as many of those tastes as possible, there are iterations “inspired” by a variety of geographical locations, each designed to evoke particular culinary sensibilities. Names like Alpine, La Mancha, Masala, and even Buffalo (Chicken) are meant to suggest particular profiles, and each dish promotes the expected ingredients to fulfill those expectations.

Unlike my visit to MacBar, where I only tried one of their signature casseroles, I, here at S’Mac, took full advantage of the Sampler, offering a a few forkfuls of eight of their more popular tastes.


S'Mac Sampler

S'Mac Sampler

S'Mac Sampler

S'Mac Sampler

S'Mac Sampler


I immediately dove into each of the eight choices, ensuring that I got a bite of each while the cheese on top was still hot melt-y while I gave them a good stir before shoveling a forkful into my mouth.


S'Mac Sampler

They were all very serviceable—some even quite enjoyable—and I was self-impressed that my two favorites were the two I believed would be my favorites: The All-American and the Alpine. Again, personal preference, as I prefer my cheese dishes to be most unencumbered by too many other flavors. (See my many previous post about grilled cheese sandwiches.) I prefer to taste the nuanced and/or bold taste of the cheeses, and those two dishes let their cheese “speak” the most.

The La Mancha was nice with subtle flavors and strong aromatics (it would make an excellent side dish for a game bird or meat); the Parisienne boasted some colorful, matching flavors, that of course overwhelmed the brie, although I could still enjoy the brie’s creamy consistency and firm bites of sliced shiitake mushrooms; the Napoletana had all the notes of an Italian pizza, nothing more, nothing less; the Cheeseburger was actually a pleasantly mature step up from your average can of Chef Boyardee; the Four Cheese you’d expect me to be a bigger fan of, but it suffered a little in the lack of a much sharper Cheddar to balance the more prominently suave Gruyere; and the Cajun tasted exactly like what every major city has been convinced Cajun food taste like, and was helped, like the Parisienne, by the textures of firm bites of andouille sausage and green pepper.

I realize that this “exploratory” menagerie of mac & cheeses won’t sate me through the rest of the fall/winter season (I’m already trying to figure out what cheese would best compliment a pasta casserole with grilled asparagus, lardo, and smoked salmon!), but I can officially check it off my seasonal “to-do” list.

So, glazed baked ham, cornbread, and sweet potato pie? I’m ready for you…!

Bun Apple Tea!

.kac.


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S’Mac (Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese) | 345 East 12th St. (off 1st Ave.) | 212.358.7912 | www.smacnyc.com | | |



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