I believe that there are times in all of our lives when we crave comfort foods of some kind, and of course each one of us has a definition of what this means. For me, one of these foods is macaroni and cheese, but please allow me to clarify: I don’t mean the Kraft version, or for that matter, any variety in which the consistency is similar to a sauce. My ideal macaroni and cheese is a sizzling casserole, extremely crispy on top, and preferably uses at least a sharp cheddar cheese. When I am in the mood for one of the best versions of this dish in New York City, I go to the Smith:
55 3rd Avenue (between 10th and 11th street)
New York, NY
4 stars out of 5 stars
During most of the year, (the academic year that is) The Smith is filled with NYU students and can be very loud at times, and for good reason. However, I was surprised when I arrived there this week to find a relatively quiet restaurant; I was somewhat shocked that I could clearly hear what my friend was saying during dinner.
I have dined there several times, and the food always ranges from good to great. My most recent meal at the Smith accurately represents something I like to call the hypocrisy diet. For example, I might have a salad for lunch and cookies later on in the day or fiber one cereal for breakfast and pasta later on in the day. I hope it works out in the end, so far I’ve lost a total of 0 pounds on this diet, but maybe it takes some time to kick in.
My friend and I split the aforementioned mac and cheese as an appetizer, which turned out to be a smart decision because the portion was quite large. What arrived at our table was a huge pan of perfectly made macaroni and cheese: a secret combination of cheeses combined with macaroni and baked to a crisp. The aroma was tantalizing and so was the flavor; as large as the portion was, I could not stop eating this great dish. There are certainly some other worthy competitors for the coveted best mac and cheese award: Blue Smoke, an excellent barbecue restaurant, serves a more saucy version, while the American restaurant Cafeteria, open 24 hours a day, makes another great and very cheesy casserole. However, the Smith’s creation definitely deserves to be considered as at least one of the top three.
My healthy side won when it was time to select an entree: pan roasted flounder fillet, served over mashed English peas, and topped with chopped asparagus. I must admit that I was a little nervous when I ordered this dish; I was told that the peas were mashed with truffle oil and were also mixed with carrots and radishes. I’m not sure how I feel about truffle oil, but I usually avoid it, as well as always avoiding radishes. Despite my reservations, this entree was surprisingly delicious: I enjoyed the contrast of the creamy peas, with their subtle sweetness, beneath the light and slightly crisp flounder, which was finished with crunchy fresh asparagus. I learned once again that eating healthy does not mean that the food has to taste like cardboard.
If you haven’t guess by now, I highly recommend the Smith. In addition to the dishes that I tasted, my friend really liked her grilled shrimp, and I am also partial to the broiled chicken with smashed potatoes and excellent garlic jus. The next time you crave some great comfort food, check out The Smith.