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Beecher’s Mac & Cheese Is Not The World’s Greatest, But It Is Appealing

September 12, 2011

Near Union Square, Beecher's. And their Mac.

Seattle cheese institution Beecher’s has recently opened a satellite shop here in New York City.

Now, Beecher’s in Seattle is known for a few things. They make their own cheese, the cheesemongering is visible through large glass windows at their shop, and they are perhaps most famous for what they modestly declare is the World’s Greatest Macaroni & Cheese. The mac is served in a cup and eaten at a counter at the shop.

So it was with considerable enthusiasm that I noted the arrival of Beecher’s here in New York.

The cheese counter. Note the condensation.

Now I should add that recent circumstances professionally have me working in an office near to Manhattan cheese institution Murray’s, and since the time I reviewed their exquisite Da Bomb sandwich, I have been back. Not just to try other sandwiches of theirs, but also to get the benefit of their cheese shop, purchasing numerous of their sensational selection. It is now not uncommon to find some of their cheeses enjoyed with our martinis during cocktail hour. I should add that lately I’m having a bit of an affair with the Finocchiona that I can get there, which is made in part with fennel, but that’s another story.

So the first thing I was interested in when I finally walked into Beecher’s was how it rated as a cheese shop. What I was hoping for was “a cheese shop with benefits.” That’s not quite the case.

Frankly, I found the cheese shop portion of Beecher’s to be somewhat anemic. It is true, I am spoiled by having both Murray’s and Zabar’s relatively close at hand, and their selections are really magnificent. Compared to those two, Beecher’s cheese shop comes up short. Of course, unlike those two, Beecher’s makes their own signature cheese, which is quite pleasant.

Cheesemaking at the shop.

Like their Seattle sister, you can see the cheesemaking taking place in a large glass room. The curds are molded into large, white rectangles and left to be rinsed off and drained in long metal pans. The same technique is broadly applied anywhere – we saw a similar display when visiting a cheesemaker in Parma, Italy. It’s neat.

The cheese counter consists of two windowed displays, and unfortunately the day I was their it seemed as though the climate control was screwy: Lots of drops of condensation and water were visible. No such thing at either Zabar’s or Murray’s. The selection is comparatively lacking, although the stuff in the case (they have both Mt. Tam and Finocchiona!) was artfully chosen.

They also have a hot bar. And at the hot bar, they have their famous mac. So let’s get down to business.

The tray didn't look very promising.

I’ll admit it. The stuff in the tray did not give a good first impression. I mean, yikes. It looked like cafeteria food. Also, it was a gooey mac. I am not so much of a gooey mac guy. I like mac to be gooey within a serving, but the serving ought to have a crusty top. I can never find a good crusty top. Just a light sprinkling of bread crumbs and some high heat to seal it is all that’s required. And this steam tray of gooey mac, I was nervous. Throw in that they label the stuff “The Best Mac And Cheese In The World,” well, color me skeptical.

That's nice of them.

It’s nice that they offer small samples. Of course I tried it. It was much, much milder than I expected. Was there any there, there? The flavor, at first small blush, seemed lacking. To confirm the suspicion and settle my own curiosity, I got a small portion.

Gooey.

First of all, the small 8 ounce portion is $5.25, which I considered to be not at all unreasonable. The 16 ounce large is $9.50, but it seemed like too much for me at the time. After being handed the cup, I made for the small counter where you can eat.

The mac itself is, as mentioned, quite gooey. It is rich, but not sharp. It has heft, that gooey-ness, that penne. Since it doesn’t come across as a baked mass, but rather a gooey sauce with pasta in it, it reminded me a bit more of eating a fondue and using ziti to dip.

Something surprising was happening. This bland thing I started eating had some emerging qualities. It was rich, hefty and starting to hit the spot. I was confused: Here is a plainly gooey mac, without much zest or overt butter flavor. It was missing something, wasn’t it? Maybe some mustard or some slight spiciness?

That’s when I realized it was an extremely decadent mac. Not at all what I was expecting. Not up to the standard of the Delta Grill – their mac remains the best I’ve had in New York City, easy. But this Beecher’s stuff was quite surprising – it grew on me, and got better with each bite. On a cold day, it would fix almost anything. World’s greatest, though? Definitely not. This is more subtle. But it is not lousy, and it is better than serviceable.

The small portion was ample. I will definitely it again.

Kudos to Beecher’s for perfecting a very simple, obvious idea. They’ve made the mac and cheese equivalent of a really good hot dog. Stop by for quick, portable comfort.

Beecher’s

900 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
www.beechershandmadecheese.com
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8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2011 5:10 pm

    Just wanted to write a thank you note for posting an honest review. It is really important to us to get feedback of all kinds. Of course, we’re quite happy that the mac grew on you. 🙂

    Matt
    Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

    • September 12, 2011 6:30 pm

      Thanks! I am also glad your mac did grow on me – it’s quite decadent. I’ll definitely be back. Welcome to NYC and continued success.

  2. October 20, 2011 11:35 pm

    Gotta say…I had the grilled cheese and turkey sandwich there a few weeks back. MMM…delicious.

    • October 21, 2011 2:39 pm

      Adam, I’m glad you loved the turkey grilled cheese. I’ve been super excited about the grilled cheese with fig we’ve been running at breakfast time. What are some other great grilled cheeses you like around the city?

      Matt
      Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

    • October 21, 2011 7:17 pm

      I’m eager to try more Beecher’s fare, and now that the temperature is starting to cool I expect revisit the
      Mac.

      That said, if you’re looking for an incredible grilled cheese sandwich, try Da Bomb from Murray’s, reviewed elsewhere on this blog. Braised short ribs are involved. You may wake up in the ER, but it’ll be worth it.

  3. October 21, 2011 7:56 pm

    Thanks for the suggestion, Jesse! I’ve heard that Da Bomb is great from many sources. 🙂
    We had a braised short rib grilled cheese when we first opened, but we shuffle up the special grilled cheese kind of a lot. We enjoy playing with our grilled cheese.

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