I’m not sure why I love macaroni and cheese. Even though everyone detests school lunches, I always looked forward to macaroni and cheese. Or maybe I liked the idea of it. I would always imagine that it would be gooey cheese with a crispy top. It wouldn’t be a gloppy liquid mess but something that is still cohesive despite appearing to be a mix of macaroni and cheese, as its name implies. It had a method within its own madness. Mad because it was probably a heart attack waiting to happen yet had a comforting place within American cuisine.
I first discovered the Macbar back when I interned at Pencils of Promise, a non-profit that builds schools in developing countries, the summer before my senior year of high school. You’ve probably heard of them if you’re a Justin Bieber fanatic or have a daughter who is one. The other interns decided to go there for lunch after we were getting bored of Whole Foods lunches, which was conveniently located around the corner from our office. I have to admit that their macaroni and cheese was also delicious.
The Macbar is a dream come true for macaroni and cheese lovers. To express their love for this simple, but oh so delicious dish, they have styled their restaurant around this food. The sitting area, although tiny, is shaped like a macaroni noodle. The décor is yellow for the cheese. Even the dishes the mac and cheese is served in, only if you order the medium or large, is in the shape of a macaroni.
But they don’t serve any order macaroni and cheese. They’ve amped it up. Of course they have the classic for those who would rather stick with the original. However, I’m not like that. I don’t even like potato chips that are original flavor. If I’m at a place that specializes in macaroni and cheese, I might as well sample those that are different.
I remember the first time there I ordered the Mac Reuben. Unfortunately, I had to carry it back to the office. By then, it was no longer its hot to the touch self. IT was warm but I, as you readers probably know, love my food flaming hot, temperature wise of course. It was still pretty good. It’s been a little over two years so I don’t remember the exact taste but I remember that it tasted like a Reuben sandwich. I think I’ve also ordered their Mayan Chipotle. I vaguely remember it being spicy. I don’t deal well with spicy. Knowing that, why I did order it? Chicken Diablo should’ve been an obvious warning sign. Diablo is Spanish for devil right?
This time, I ordered the Mac Quack. A decadent dish described to hold duck confit, fontina, caramelized onion, and fines herbes. “Fines herbes?” That’s what the online menu said. Maybe they meant fine herbs? Actually, just Googled it. It means “a combination of herbs that forms a mainstay of Mediterranean cuisine” [Wikipedia]. By the way, duck confit is prepared with the leg of a duck and then cooked in its own fat [Wikipedia]. Sounds so crazy, like something that should be on Epic Meal Time. Cooked in its own fat. Oh what a guilty pleasure.
I was really thirsty then. I had asked if they had free tap water and the cashier said they had no water. Wait, no water? Seriously? You saying that because you sell bottled water for $2? So me, wanting to save money, was on a wild goose chase for a Starbucks, where I usually get my tap water from in a fancy Starbucks cup, after being given incorrect directions by a friend eating with me. By the time I got back, my Mac Quack was starting to just become warm. We decided to wait until everyone had their food. Because I ordered first, mine was the “coolest” of all. Everyone knows that cheese tastes the best when it is hot. As it cools, it becomes less gooey. As time passed, I knew my mac and cheese was declining in taste.
When we were able to dine, I ate it voraciously. First, I was hungry. Second, it has been so long since I have been to the Macbar. Well, the Mac Quack wasn’t that impressive. I didn’t encounter many duck pieces. I ordered this because I had eaten duck confit twice and both times were amazing.
My first time was at Salubre, which was a restaurant near Dartmouth. It was amazing. The duck was so tasty with the cranberries and cheese. It was paired with rice, maybe risotto? I’m not sure how to describe the dish but I’m craving for it now. It’s unfortunate that the next time I’m back in Dartmouth will be in the winter. The flavors worked together really well. The sweet. The salty. The perfectly cooked duck. I want it now.
The second time was at La Senorita in Chinatown with friends. I’m planning to write a review on this but I got there late after my friends ordered the dishes. By the time I arrived, it was cold. I don’t believe I can give the food justice when I didn’t eat them at their prime. But the duck confit dish cam after I arrived so it was still hot. Again, the duck was cooked really well. The flavors were good but not as well matched as the duck confit I had at Salubre. It was spicy and slightly overpowering the sweet flavor it was paired with. Again, there was also rice. Hopefully, a friend (she and he know who they are because I’ve asked) will volunteer to guest blog about it.
All in all, I would return to the Macbar, as I’ve done in the past. I’m not sure if it’s fair to say that the Mac Quack tasted okay when I ate it when it was only warm. But, warm or hot, there weren’t that many duck pieces. I don’t know if I return because their mac and cheese is really that amazing or because I love the décor (their website is also really cute) and all their variations. I’d love to try their Mac Lobsta’, which is truly a luxury, and maybe their Cheeseburger Mac. Ideally, I would love to invite a group of people and we each order one of each then I get to sample them all. That’s why I like to dine in a large group. Sampling! Next, I’ll go eat at S’MAC with friends, another restaurant that specializes in macaroni and cheese.