Tuesday, February 1, 2011
S'Mac Turned the Volume Way Up
S'Mac - 345 East 12th Street, New York NY 10003
L Train to 1st Avenue
Enjoying a fun girl's night yesterday, my friends and I chose the East Village for dinner -selecting a restaurant entirely focused on mac 'n cheese. S'Mac, a specialty mac 'n cheese eatery, came highly recommended by Michelle, who not only claimed the food was delicious, she also raved about the affordable prices. I'm happy to say that she was completely right about both.
Fitting in with its "anything goes" East Village surroundings, S'Mac is a very casual, cheery establishment that doesn't skimp out on color and playful decor. I immediately noticed the bright orange and yellow chairs, the funky light fixtures and a generally laid-back, happy vibe. It seemed like a great gathering place, as you didn't much see intimate groups of two, rather encountering larger groups of friends feasting and relaxing over big, heaping cast iron skillets of mac 'n cheese.
I loved how pure and focused the menu was - solely concentrating on mac 'n cheese, which comes in 12 varieties and even vegan and build-your-own options. There are three sizes, which you can get--nosh (small), major munch (medium), mongo (large), partay! (super-sized)--and the larger ones are great for sharing. We chose three macs and a salad too, to infuse some vitamins in with all that starch.
Parisienne - By far my favorite option, we got it with whole wheat pasta and a crunchy breadcrumb topping that was really well-done, just the way I like it. The inside was simply divine, consisting of gooey brie cheese, slivers of roasted figs that added nice sweetness and roasted shiitake mushrooms. One of the other components that made this dish was the fresh rosemary, bringing out the greatness in each ingredient, leaving you with a clean, earthy aftertaste.
Cajun - A close second to the Parisienne, this one had a kick to it that jolted the palate to attention. Choosing a white pasta for this, it was mixed with cheddar and pepper-jack cheese, spicy andouille sausage, green peppers, onions, celery, garlic and some classic Cajun seasoning. The dish had soul and personality and a lot of us spice lovers kept reaching for seconds and thirds. I could've handled a little more spice if we're being honest with each other, but overall the flavors delivered.
Mediterranean - While still tasty, this mac 'n cheese option was my least favorite. Even though the ingredients of goat cheese, sauteed spinach, kalamata olives and roasted garlic caught my eye, they somehow didn't work as harmoniously as the other two options I just mentioned. Another slight negative was that the pasta was dressed with way too much lemon juice and lemon rind that it was overpowering - and I'm not the only one that noticed.
Service and Cost:
There's a counter up front where you order, then get a number, and eventually get your food and drinks delivered table-side. The service is good and also very casual, which adds to the restaurant's charm. The semi self-serve option is welcome and eliminates the risk of bad table-side service.
Costs are inexpensive and S'Mac's options are very conducive to sharing, which also helps keep the wallet full.
Nosh - $4.75 -$7.25
Major Munch - $7.75 - $10.75
Mongo - $13.50 - $19
Partay! - $33 - $47
3 Mac 'n Cheesy Mmmms