Plating It Up: It’s Not Just a Side Dish

Bacon, crostini, East Village, Lower East Side, Mac 'n Cheese


The common side dish is no longer playing second fiddle. What was once considered just a side dish on menus has slowly grown into the focal point of some entrees. The trend in food culture of upgrading the side dish has been especially popular with macaroni and cheese, with portion sizes that create this childhood favorite into an adult meal.

S’mac (Sarita’s Mac ‘n Cheese) has has created a meal with familiar combinations like cheese burger and buffalo chicken and some exotic spices with their cajun and masala versions of the mac ‘n cheese which are served in your own individual cast iron pan. Another favorite, that’s also good for kids, is Brooklyn Mac in Greenpoint. With similar dishes as S’Mac but with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. There’s even a kids menu with smaller portions, making Brooklyn Mac a perfect family destination.

Another favorite, especially for the late night crowd, is the Mac Bar in the heart of SoHo. It’s modest size with its yellow walls and curved interior makes you feel as if you were standing inside and elbow macaroni noodle. The Mac Bar’s menu of playful and rich version of classic pasta dishes, including the Margarita Mac, Mac Stroganoff and Mac Lobsta will make you forget you’re eating a bowl of mac ‘n cheese!

Finger Licking Good

Chelsea, Chicken, Mac 'n Cheese, West Village

Dirty Bird

The other day, a friend complained to me about how food trucks serve such small portions. I explained that it’s because the food is meant to be eaten “on-the-go”. In most scenarios, you won’t have a place to sit and eat. So most people eat the food right outside the food truck or take it directly back to their office for lunch. Also the trucks are limited to the amount of inventory they can carry to serve the lunch crowd; too large of portions and they’ll run out of food while the lines are still long. This conversation had me thinking more and more about one of my favorite finger foods, chicken wings. A chicken wing is the perfect finger food, no fork required! 

New ‘Dog’ In Town: Dogmatic

Burgers, Gourmet, Grilling, Hot Dogs, Mac 'n Cheese, Pork

What do you get when you stuff a ‘hot dog’ into a baguette? Dogmatic has turned the common ‘hot dog on a bun’ into a gourmet meal. Dogmatic’s motto is, “Good Food that’s Fast for You.” After all, their meat, chicken and pork are hormone-free, grass-fed and free-range. I ordered a ‘sausage dog,’ which is served in a hollowed-out roll. Instead of mustard or ketchup you can choose from a selection of gourmet sauces that go inside the hollowed-out roll before the ‘sausage dog’ is placed in.

Side options include: non-fried fries or cheese fries, truffle mac ‘n cheese and some healthier fare, in the form of, grilled asparagus or tomato and basil salad. I had to try the truffle mac ‘n cheese to see how it compared, and I wasn’t disappointed. It was rich and creamy and served in a small cup – just enough so I would feel the affects of carb-loading with all the pasta and bread I consumed. And you can top off your meal with one of their handmade sodas, made some fruit purees, and offering some not so common flavors – ginger, coconut and pomegranate. And being nutritionally responsible, even though Dogmatic isn’t required to, they have the menu’s nutritional facts listed on their Web site – listing calories, fat/gm and sodium content! Impressive!

Dogmatic, 26 E. 17th Street @ Union Square West, 212-414-0600