Friday, July 07, 2006

Standing Room Only

Last night’s dining experience at S’Mac, the Macaroni & Cheese restaurant on E. 12th, was an exercise in survival of the fittest. Upon entering, after waiting in line outside the door, you get the feeling of being inside a vat of macaroni & cheese. With brick exposed walls, orange and yellow decor, and the human to human ratio outweighed only by the heat emitting from the ovens, you are stewing. I overheard the owner telling a couple of customers that on opening night, people were lined up around the block, waiting in the rain. I can only imagine a mob of cheese addicts with umbrellas clashing, grousing about the incessant rain, only so they could tell their friends that they were the first ones to experience S’Mac. Oh, my city is so funny.

Once inside, you need a strategy. Because I was with a group of three, I volunteered to find a table while the other two waited in line to order. You have to poise yourself just so and jump on the first spot you see; that’s urban dining. Once I found a table, I grabbed a chair from a table of two, who had the nerve to use this coveted resting spot for the upkeep of their handbags. While waiting for my friends to order, I had to tell at least five people that yes, in fact, we will be using all of these chairs and yes, this table is mine.

I ordered the creamy Brie, roasted figs-roasted shiitake mushrooms-fresh rosemary, Macaroni, while my dining companions chose the Cajun Cheddar & Pepper Jack cheeses, andouille sausage-green pepper-onions-celery-garlic Macaroni, and the Goat cheese-sauteed spinach-kalamata olives, and roasted garlic, Macaroni. My serving was of the “Nosh” variety ($6.75) while theirs was of the “Major Munch” ($9). ‘Nosh’, the Yiddish term for light snack, to be used as a verb or a noun, does not really apply to the servings at S’Mac, as I embarked on more of a small meal. I do not know how my gluttonous friends finished their “Major Munches,” except that maybe being 6'3 means you need to consume more cheese. Also, whether or not you are hungry when you step into S’Mac, after waiting in line for so long and battling for a table, you have most definitely worked up an appetite.

We were not five minutes into our meal when a biker guy, with a pot belly, bandana, and silver piercings coming out of every orifice of his face, began hovering over my friend. “You almost done?” he huffed. Not even close.

Reared on Stouffer’s Macaroni & Cheese, the stuff that dreams are made of, I am used to an overabundance of cheese in my macaroni and cheese, and while the gourmet mac n’ cheese did feel healthier, with wheat pasta noodles and roasted figs, there seemed to be a lack of cheese in my macaroni. Yet that did not stop me from eating it all.

I would not suggest eating at S’Mac before going to a crowded rock show, where you pay $12 to see a drug addled musician walk off stage after 45 minutes, or before you board a lurching train, but I would definitely go back to S’Mac. I will avoid that place during the summer months, unless they get a better air conditioner, and, most importantly during peak dining hours, opting instead for the fall and, of course, the winter. That is, unless you get your Macaroni & Cheese to go. That would be nice, as Tompkins Square Park is not too far away, I think.

As we were leaving, past the long line of patrons, the biker guy stopped my friend, “Sorry, man, I don’t know what came over me.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm telling you! you have to try craft mac and cheese with chunky peanut butter and hot sauce.

8:18 PM  

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