Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Boston Hahts Mac and Cheese by Hilary Havarti

On a recent sojourn to Boston, I put out an APB to family members to seek
out good local mac in an attempt to expand weheart's geographic reach. My
cousin recommended a place called Max and Dylan's in the downtown area,
offering not one but FOUR different varieties of mac and cheese. And so,
with a family of budding mac and cheese reviewers in tow, we descended upon
this establishment to decide its fate.

Settling into a long table in the upper bar area of the restaurant, a
negotiation of sorts began to take place. As a traditionalist, I planned to
order the basic Macaroni and Cheese with Cavatappi pasta and Toasted Garlic
Crumbs priced at $9.50. It was up to the five other folks to figure out who
would order what to cover as much mac and cheese ground as possible. In the
end, they settled on the Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese with Flash Fried
Tenders, $12, and the Lobster Mac and Cheese with Maine Lobster
Meat, $15. The only one we didn't order was the Prosciutto Mac and Cheese
with Parma Prosciutto and Truffle Oil, $13. In retrospect, that was a
mistake in judgment. I mean, we went all the way there, we probably should
have tried them all.

The traditional mac was the first to arrive. Wielding forks and the assumed
expertise of Gael Greene, the group dove in. The best part of this
experience was observing the general giddiness and seriousness with which my
relatives embraced this task. Everyone was quick to realize: reviewing mac
and cheese is important work. There are many variables to consider and looks
can be and often are deceiving.

All the mac and cheese was prepared with Cavatappi pasta. Imagine a Fusilli
noodle and an elbow macaroni noodle producing an offspring and that's
Cavatappi. It is a spirally noodle with a hollow center. I think this is a
great noodle to incorporate in mac and cheese and may do so in the future.
Unfortunately, these Cavatappis were overcooked and squishy. The garlic
bread crumbs had a nice crunch but there weren't enough of them to really
give this mac the sucker punch it needed to wow us.

With a couple of part time residents of Italy in our midst, we were unable, with any certainty, to
identify the cheeses used to prepare this dish. We asked our server to find
out and she reported "Belgium," Cheddar and Parmesan. Ever heard of
"Belgium" cheese? We hadn't either so that remains a mystery. Overall, the
traditional mac was bland and a bit of a let down.

On to the Buffalo Chicken Mac. I'll be the first to admit, I wouldn't know a
Buffalo Chicken from a Bison Chicken but there was some debate as to whether
this sauce was an authentic Buffalo chicken sauce. I've since looked up a
couple of recipes and I think it was indeed prepared with hot sauce and
butter. Just look at the photo, it looks red hot. This mac had the most
flavor according to the group. I think the spiciness overpowered the cheese
making it less of a mac and cheese dish and more of a spicy pasta dish but
people did enjoy it.

The lobster mac and cheese was last on the tasting menu. In all the
excitement, I failed to get a photo of this mac before it was devoured. I
think the language used to sum up this mac was "a failed concept." It was
speculated that lobster broth was used in the preparation of the dish making
it overly salty, and Maine lobster might not have been the best choice. I
reject fish in my mac and cheese in general (Sorry, Hubert!) and this dish
didn't do anything to change my mind.

So there you have it: six people, three different varieties of mac and
cheese, and a great time had by all. It's important to remember that having
fun is what it's all about.

Max and Dylan's
15 West Street
Boston, MA


Diamondb66 said...

I drive by Max and Dylan's on my way to school three times a week. I'll have to check it out.