S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York | I just want to eat!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York

image of S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York

There are many recipes today with a wide variety of pasta used (check out for instance my recipe of Italian mac & cheese that uses orzo) or cheese (blue for instance), as well as other ingredients added to the mix, such as ham, or in a more elegant version, lobster or crab meat. I admit that I never had any good seafood mac and cheese, probably because the amount of seafood is not enough to let it shine. But, definitely, mac and cheese is my favorite side with a steak and I am surprised that  restaurants do not propose it more often on their menu. The best I had in a restaurant was at The Old Homestead in New York City (it was made with truffle, probably oil - sorry Anthony Bourdain) and at Dino & Harry's in Hoboken. The worst was at Nick and Steph's Steakhouse in the City: the cheese tasted like Velveeta...mac and cheese is a comfort food that is present in many countries, in different forms. In France, it is called gratin de pâtes. When I was a kid, we use to eat it as a main dish rather than as a side. The basic recipe is fairly simple: macaroni or rigatoni, cheese (my Mom used Gruyère), crème fraîche, salt and pepper. The secret being of course to put lots of cheese and crème! Everybody though has its own recipe; I remember that my cousin Sandrine was using an egg and it is not uncommon to prepare a béchamel sauce and smothered the pasta with it. The commonality of these recipes: the sublime burnt cheese crust created when broiling the cheese on top that gave the word gratiné. 
image of S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York

So, now, imagine a joint that only serves mac & cheese! This is what Sarita's Mac and Cheese aka S'Mac is all about. Opened in 2006 by Sarita & Caesar Ekya, S'Mac proposes a decadent menu: for sure, if you are on a diet, this is not for you, although they offer a mixed green salad as a side. Now, if you eat gluten free, are vegan or lactose intolerant, they also propose alternatives that I am sure is truly appreciated. 
image of brick wall at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York

The place is fun with a two tone color pattern: red and yellow, the latter being the color of the cheese.
image of Dining room at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York

You first order at the counter:
image of Dining room at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York

And then, they give you a number.
image of order number at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York

Once your order is ready, they bring it to your table.
image of Mac and cheese sampler at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York

They serve Mac and Cheese in different sizes, from small (nosh) to large (partay). But what is a fantastic idea is the sampler that we picked, allowing us to try 8 different recipes.

image of Mac and cheese sampler at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York image of Mac and cheese sampler at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York
image of Mac and cheese sampler at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York image of Mac and cheese sampler at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York

But, you do not pick: what is in the sampler is already defined. So we tried:
  • All American, made with American cheese and cheddar.
  • Cheese burger: American cheese and cheddar, with ground beef.
  • 4 cheese: cheddar, munster, pecorino and gruyere.
  • Cajun: cheddar, pepper jack, andouille sausage, green pepper, onions, celery and garlic.
  • Alpine: gruyere and bacon.
  • La Mancha: manchego cheese, fennel and onions.
  • Parisienne: brie, figs, roasted shiitake mushrooms and rosemary.
  • Napoletana: fresh mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic and fresh basil.
To help us know what was what, they gave us a sheet of paper:
image of Mac and cheese sampler at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York
Sampler content
image of 4 cheese Mac and cheese at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York
4 cheese
image of cajun Mac and cheese at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York
Cajun
image of cajun Mac and cheese at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York
Cajun
image of Alpine Mac and cheese at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York
Alpine
image of 4 cheese Mac and cheese at S'mac in the East Village, NYC, New York
4 cheese
It was very good: the macaroni was perfectly cooked and there was a lot of cheese. My favorites were the classic All American, the 4 cheese, the Alpine and the Parisienne. My least favorites were the cajun (too much celery, although I loved the andouille sausage that was a bit spicy) and the Napoletana that had too much garlic.

S'Mac is definitely a great place: simple concept, good food at a reasonable price that would put a S'Mile on your face. If you go there, I definitely recommend the sampler.

Enjoy (I did)!

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2 comments:

  1. I didn't realize they had a sampler! Most of those sound delicious.....
    Have you had the mac and cheese at Artisinal? Its to die for! And i just saw this article the other day, must be a common winter craving :)
    http://www.thrillist.com/eat/new-york/best-mac-and-cheeses-in-nyc-macaroni-and-cheese-restaurants
    Ttrockwood

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    Replies
    1. The sampler is such a great idea! I never tried the Mac And Cheese at Artisanal: I put it on my list! Thanks! The article you sent makes me hungry! I tried the MC at Schnipper's and it was just ok, but some of the photos look promising...

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