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The Mac Shack

"Accidentally" went to the new Mac Shack in Kerrisdale (on W. Boulevard, where Vivo Gelato used to be) on Sunday while pondering a different family lunch spot. Was thinking of Cabin 5555 but oh well.

Decor & ambiance: "woodey", homey and generally welcoming and comfy. Like the projected menus on the wall above the service counter. Only one large-screen LCD [gasp]. Fewer tables & seats than I expected, maybe a total of 30 ?

Service: still on the learning curve, IMHO. Generally friendly, but not overwhelmingly so.

Food: we ordered a kid's Mini Mac combo for $6. Parents had the med-size Creamy Pesto Chicken Mac ($12) and med-size Veggie ($10). All orders come in one of three sized cast iron skillet ..... ok the gimmick got me. While everything is made-to-order and piping hot upon arrival, I found the macs lacking real cheese flavours, and generally bland (I added ground salt and pepper from mill on table). My creamy pesto was creamy for sure, but the chicken slices were scarce. Wife's veggie mac was very tomato-ey, but again the veggies (peppers, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, onion) were also scarce.

I think the fatal flaw common to all our macs/pasta dishes was the cheeses are melted on top of the pasta, rather than made as cheese SAUCE. Once the dish cools down, the cheese gets lumpy and stringey no longer stay integrated with the pasta. To that end, their creations fail to live up to their name.

One thing tho, the portions are large for the prices, we could have easily been full with just one med-size mac and the kid's Mini Mac, with leftovers.

Drinks: a glass of Wolf Blaas cab sauv is priced @t $10 !!! Hmmm.

Would I go back ....... I have to say a big maybe. Only because it's more predictable and inviting than White Spot a few doors down or Cheshire Cheese Inn. And I can only eat so many burgers and hot dogs at The Red Onion. Although I can't imagine going to Mac Shack all that regularly given the serious carbohydrate hit one could get. Other than a few token salads and desserts, their menu could start to feel old fast, IMHO.

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  1. I went to the Mac Shack with a crew of excited friends recently and, though we sampled a good chunk of the menu - including the Brooklyn, the Lobster, the 4 Cheese, the Classic and some custom orders - general consensus was a big MEH. The sauce lacked both flavour and appropriate creamy texture.

    It's too bad - it's really not that difficult to make mac n' cheese that tastes of cheese (we've all done it!). A disappointment since this is there only product. There are many places in town that offer mac n' cheese just as a side that are 20X better than Mac Shack's massive fail. Too bad.

    8 Replies
    1. re: NoMoreSnuggles

      Burgoo, of all places, has an awesome M&C :-D

      I wonder how long the FB/Twitter hype of Mac Shack will last.

      1. re: LotusRapper

        Maybe it's just me but even the best mac and cheese never wows me

        1. re: vandan

          I think it's just you. A really great mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food, especially on a cold winter day. Fortunately, it is easy to make a great mac and cheese at home! Mac and cheese is kind of like pizza: a blank canvas which can have endless variations. Personally I really like fried cubes of slab bacon or pancetta in my m & c.

          1. re: vandan

            Then you haven't tried the Gorgonzola Mac and Cheese at Mastro's Restaurant (an upscale chain in the US). Totally blew me away and I've been trying to find a similar recipe every since. Nothing I've tried recently even comes close.

            People think it's an easy dish to prepare but a really good one requires a fair amount ot of work, timing and quality ingredients. And blinders...to avoid looking at the caloric content...

            1. re: Quattrociocchi

              Maybe that's it then I need to try something a little higher end

              1. re: vandan

                Funny thing is, Mastro's is a Steakhouse (along the same lines as Morton's) and the mac and cheese was a side (that could feed a small family of four). I left the steak, ate the mac.....and don't even get me started on their butter cake!! yum!

                1. re: Quattrociocchi

                  Personally I'm a always eat the steak first kind of a guy

              2. re: Quattrociocchi

                "People think it's an easy dish to prepare but a really good one requires a fair amount ot of work, timing and quality ingredients."

                Yes ! It's not hard to make a good M&C at home even if you're just amateur home cook. But to make a *great* M&C takes all the things Quattrociocchi said.

                I made a "pretty good" M&C when I took the cooking series at NW Culinary Academy a few years back. We had v. good ingredients, all the quintessential restaurant-grade equipment and set-up, and it still wasn't trivial to get it just right.

                BTW, for me the icing on the cake for M&C is the gratin top :-)

        2. I agree with a lot of the experiences here that it was not a major WOW.

          The concept is a nice one, in theory, of focusing on the traditional comforting mac & cheese.

          When a place focuses on a specific dish they should make the best damned (insert dish name here) in the city. It should be something you couldn't easily do at home.

          Unfortunately that is not the case here. I ordered the four cheese which contained provolone, gruyere, cheddar, and aged cheddar. The dish was served in a cast iron skillet which had been baked in a salamander. While the pasta was cooked to the right texture, the sauce was overly creamy without any noticeable cheese at all! I think they basically tossed the pasta with cream sauce and then put a little bit of cheese over the top and browned it off in the salamander. I personally like a mac & cheese that has cheesy goodness in every saucy bite. This wasn't it unfortunately. The cheese was an afterthought, a garnish, a footnote.

           
          1 Reply
          1. re: YVRChow

            "I think they basically tossed the pasta with cream sauce and then put a little bit of cheese over the top and browned it off in the salamander."

            Well, from where I sat, I watched the cooks prep the macs, and that's pretty much what I saw.

            "When a place focuses on a specific dish they should make the best damned (PHILLY CHEESESTEAK) in the city. It should be something you couldn't easily do at home." ......... there, I said it for you ;-)