In regards to the various classifications of macaroni and cheese (steakhouse, barbecue joint, fancy, etc.) I’d like to propose a new addition: cafeteria style. Caf mac (like that?) is served in large steamer trays and is doled out in heaping spoonfuls on your plate. It is most often characterized by very soft pasta and a mild sauce. Is caf mac bad? It can be, but it doesn’t have to be.
Birdbath Bakery is absolutely one of my favorite spots for lunch. If you’ve never tried their spaghetti squash bake, I recommend taking a trip to one of their many locations to snarf it up immediately. Birdbath, which is affiliated with City Bakery, also serves the latter’s hot chocolate, which is probably the best in the city. Basically, they excel at all things dairy.
So, how is their mac? As you can see from the photo, the cafeteria-style trays develop a nice, brown crust from the oven. But, as Birdbath cooks huge batches, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get crust on every serving. Gasp.
Crust or no crust, this probably one of the better iterations of caf mac that you’ll find in New York. The sauce is, indeed, very mild (I’m guessing straight up cheddar-bechamel), but there’s a healthy dose of pepper in there that saves it from being totally one-note. Personally, I don’t love mushy pasta, which is what you get by default in this kind of mac, but if that’s your thing, you’ll be in heaven.
Overall verdict: this wouldn’t be the first thing I order here, only because the rest of the menu is so stellar. But if you need mac and you need it right now (one of the benefits of caf-style), I give the thumbs up.
Birdbath Bakery, locations vary. Check website for details.