A First Look at S’MAC’s New Melty Midtown Goodness
In May, we heard that New York’s leading maker of Mac and Cheese, S’MAC, launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the opening of a branch in the lower boundaries of ML. Then, in July, I encouraged you all to quit your jobs and go work at the new restaurant. Finally, after months of me stalking them, they have opened!
With S’MAC’s menu almost entirely limited to Mac and Cheese, I don’t see many options in terms of ordering. Once you start to add toppings you will quickly be priced out of the ML budget, especially if you are interested in more than the smallest size. Sticking to the recommended combos would mean you have four options in the major munch size and only one of those has meat. If you are a lighter eater and/or have to stay awake during the afternoon, you have the option of a smaller mac and cheese and a small salad. But after my visit, I can’t say I recommend that.
Of course, S’MAC doesn’t limit you to just what they recommend; you could choose to make your own combo. The nosh size starts at $6.75 and includes two cheeses. If I understand the menu correctly, it is a minimum of $1.50 for anything more. The prices on Sarita’s Recommended list are clearly favorably set to steer you that way to make things easier on the kitchen.
A friend of mine actually got to S’MAC before me and sent me this beautiful photo. She ordered the Napoletana in major munch size for $9.75. Despite it being a little oily (might just come with the territory), she really liked it and ate the whole thing. Of course, her food coma persisted through the afternoon.
Within a few days, I went with a friend of mine to check it out. It is nice to know that unlike the East Village space, this location has a ton of seats to have your meal to stay. They also have hanging near the register cast iron pans so you can judge the sizes before you order. One of the pans caught my eye was divided into wedges. Of course, I suspected…but how excited was I when I went on the website to see this. I understand that the S’MAC sampler is way out of budget, but look at it!!!
I ordered a favorite of mine from the East Village location, the all-American in major munch. Just like in original location, they asked if I wanted breadcrumbs on top, which I strongly recommend. It adds a nice layer of crunch to the top of the mac and cheese.
When my friend ordered the buffalo chicken nosh mac and cheese, the guy at the register asked if wanted blue cheese on top for free. It seems to me like that should come standard, but of course, he said yes. He also ordered the multigrain pasta which cost $.50 extra (and gluten-free is an extra $1.00 which is listed on the menu without prices). He preferred the multigrain pasta in his dish, because it was more toothsome and with so many strong flavors the taste difference was negligible. With something more simple like the all-American, I think it is best to stick with normal pasta. The taste was great, but it did cause some flavor fatigue while eating further into the dish.
From all of the take-out business at their other location, they cleverly put handles on the to-go boxes to make the carry home much easier. I should mention that ordering to-stay or to-go changes your experience somewhat significantly. They bake take out dishes in an effectively coated disposable “pan”, which still manages to crisp the cheese on edges (my favorite part of baked mac and cheese). But if you are able to eat in house, nothing can top mac and cheese baked in a cast iron pan. In either dish type, they have perfected creating crispy crust (breadcrumbs help) and gooey filling. In terms of wait time, it varies depending on the business of the kitchen. When my friend went, it took a while for her meal to come out, but mine was only about 5 minutes.
To find out if you could make a meal of a nosh size mac and cheese with salad, I ordered a small salad. They had sold out of the small salad so they upgraded me to a large. The salad comes in a small or a large clamshell container with mixed greens, shredded carrots, a few cherry tomatoes, and a packet of Ken’s salad dressing. I think underwhelming is a good description for the salad. I normally like a little balance in my meals to break up the flavors, but I can’t really recommend downsizing your mac and cheese to make room for a salad.
With at least four Profiled Lunch’ers citing a love for S’MAC downtown, I know there is a built in audience. And I think maybe S’MAC wisely timed their opening for fall when we are all eager to dig into a huge pan of mac and cheese.
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Mac and cheese sometimes sounds better than it tastes, but not at S’MAC.
- Their commitment to mac and cheese is admirable, and they do it so well!
- The all-American (in major munch) is an incredible deal.
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- I can’t risk sleeping through the afternoon and too much of this mac and cheese will put me to sleep.
- With the prices climbing so quickly with toppings, my options are so limited.
- Mac and cheese is so inexpensive to make, all of the dishes should be cheaper.
S’MAC, 157 East 33rd Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenues, (212) 683-3900