arlington club, upper east side

photo credit melissa hom

If you’re anything like me, your landmarks in various neighborhoods are all food-related. “We’re on E. 12th St.? S’mac is only 2 blocks away!” Similarly, whenever I find myself on the Upper East Side, I’m always aware of exactly how many blocks away I am from Arlington Club, chef Laurent Tourondel’s clubby steakhouse (and sushi bar!) and its jaw-dropping mac.

Like any good steakhouse, AC has mac and cheese. But the version here is not simply phoned in to accompany the porterhouse. I even called it the best thing I ate in 2013 and I don’t mean that hyperbolically. As you can see from the picture, Chef/Partner Ralph Scamardella’s macaroni (I think technically rigatoni) stands upright in its ramekin. That’s because the smoky gouda sauce gets poured into each noodle. I’ll give you a moment to calculate that sauce/pasta ratio; it’s pretty impressive. Then, right before serving, the ‘tonis get a quick blitz under the broiler, giving it a nice crust on top while the bottom half swims in that ridiculous sauce. If I haven’t said it before, gouda, but especially smoked gouda, was born for macaroni and cheese. It melts very well but is still strong enough to pack an umami punch (#sorrynotsorry for describing it thusly).

This is destination mac, people. I would walk from Greenwich Village any night of the week for this. But word to the wise: eat it while fresh. I tried to reheat leftovers once and, while still tasty, pre-broiled noodles don’t really mesh well with a microwave.

Arlington Club, 1032 Lexington Ave., 212.249.5700

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