Do you like comfort food? Do you live in New York? Then you’re probably familiar with Bubby’s , which serves up pie, milkshakes and other fantastic rib-sticking fare. The mac and cheese here is a bit of an off-menu order, though. While the bacon mac is listed as a side, a regular, plain mac has to be ordered off of the kid’s menu. Again, thank god for my toddler.
But unlike some other kid versions, which are dumbed down to appeal to tiny palates, Bubby’s does not hold back. This bubbling monster is topped with a heavy cheese crown, plus a creamy, nutmeg-heavy bechamel underneath. I also love the use of shells here, since it’s such a great shape for holding in sauce (and this is a Sauce with a capital S). This is a mac that definitely improves with a hearty stir, however. The majority of the cheese is on top, so it’s best to incorporate it throughout the entire dish before chowing down. The added bonus? It cools the whole dish down faster too! There’s nothing sadder than burning your tongue on your first bite of mac, amirite?
Don’t be afraid to ask for the kiddie menu; this is worth it.
Bubby’s, 120 Hudson St., 212-219-0666 or 73 Gansevoort St., 212-206-6200
I’m going to posit something: steakhouse mac is better than barbecue joint mac. Of course, there are always exceptions, but there must just be more butter and bechamel floating around in a steakhouse kitchen. How else to explain the creamy concoctions that accompany your meat? (That’s what she said!)
A wonderful example of “steakhouse mac” (just trademarked that phrase, BAM) is at Old Homestead Steakhouse in the Meatpacking district. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big red meat person, but I LOVE steakhouses because the sides are always so decadent.
Homestead’s mac and cheese is listed as a truffle mac, but even this truffle hound couldn’t really detect much of a truffle essence. I think it was for the better though, it would be gilding the lily on this rich sauce. Our waiter told us that the cheese sauce was made from SEVEN different cheese, including Blue, Cheddar and Parmesan. It shows: the flavor is complex and almost tastes as if there’s a bit of sherry hiding in there. I would say its closest cousin is the sauce at Blue Smoke, which is also very thick and rich.
And like Blue Smoke, Homestead also uses traditional elbow macaroni, which holds up well when your sauce is pretty viscous. This is definitely a mac to be eaten as soon as it’s served — in a very pretty Staub pot, I might add — or else the sauce starts to thicken too much.
Overall, a winner.
Old Homestead, 56 9th Ave., 212-242-9040
photo credit: the illustrious alex reichek
If you live in New York, the Meatpacking district may not be your first top on a gastronomic tour. There’s a lot of untz-untz happening, even at lunchtime. And generally untz-untz and great food do not mix. Great champagne, though, that’s a different story.
One of my favorite macaroni and cheeses not just in New York, but in America is at Catch NYC, located right in the thick of boozy brunches and long lines at the Apple store. Chef Hung Huynh (you may remember him from his turn on Top Chef) adds a few ingredients that elevate his mac well beyond the norm: mascarpone and lobster. In fact, on the menu this dish is actually listed as macaroni and lobster cream. You can’t not order it with a name like that.
As you can see in the photo, this is a creamy, not necessarily a cheesy, mac. The chives and crunchy breadcrumbs are a wonderful complement to the chewy elbow pasta, which soaks up all of the rich and creamy lobster sauce. Mascarpone is an underrated cheese in the world of mac and cheese and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it utilized better than in this iteration. Plus, because of how well it melts in sauces, this may be a rich dish, but it won’t leave you feeling overly stuffed.
We’re headed into some chilly temperatures, from what I hear, but if you have the chance to try this mac while sitting out on lovely Catch patio (don’t worry, it’s elevated), do not pass it up.
Catch NYC, 21 9th Ave., 212.392.5978