When Mac Met Cheese in Bayswater
London’s street food scene has long been a simmering hot pot of exciting innovation and culinary experimentation. The lure of freshly prepared dishes, made by gifted amateur cooks, has attracted Londoners to traders at every corner of the capital. Social media has enabled happy diners to spread the word and popular vendors have introduced a new trend in recent years: pop-up restaurants.
One such street food king is Sammy, the owner and creator of When Mac Met Cheese. As a regular at Camden Market, Sammy’s take on the American pairing of macaroni and cheese attracted enough critical acclaim to warrant a move into pop-up dining. Now, West Londoners are being offered the chance to discover Sammy’s unique dishes, with the restaurant setting up home on Bayswater’s Porchester Road until July 4th.
The venue is laid-back chic at its finest: enough wood to rival a timber yard, and plenty of low hanging filament bulbs. The use of take-away containers instead of crockery pays homage to the restaurant’s roots and off-kilter trimmings add character and charm. Look out for table decorations of mini cacti, edgy monochrome wall art and a flatbed-trolley-turned-coffee-table.
A simple menu offers a choice of two breaded mac and cheese balls to start, called Macancinis; four main courses of different Mac and Cheese; and Deep Fried Oreos for dessert. The drinks list is also concise, with limited cocktails (try the Lychee or Elderflower & Apple Martini), house wines, beer and soft drinks.
Both variations of Macancinis were tasty and filling. Truffle & Wild Mushroom was earthy and creamy, with a lighter ratio of pasta to sauce than the bolder Jalapeños & Cheddar. It attacked the senses with snakebite ferocity but bottled tap water was thankfully to hand on the table!
Mains of Mum’s Classic and Cheesy Green Afro were ordered with the addition of bacon lardons to each. Both arrived with a browned crust of breadcrumbs and cheese, adding another layer of texture to the al dente pasta. Mum’s Classic lacked the depth of flavour teased by its ingredients list – three cheeses and nutmeg – and had an off-putting smell of cereal. Cheesy Green Afro was far superior: perfectly cooked broccoli and macaroni, enrobed in a delicate sauce of vintage stilton and mozzarella, nicely enhanced by salty bacon.
Deep Fried Oreos was a delicious, but stodgy, ending to our meal and one portion was enough to share between two. The biscuits, fried in batter to resemble fritters, were soft and cake-like, with a melting fondant centre.
A sous chef from The Ivy was recruited for the restaurant’s arrival to Bayswater but there are still visible teething problems – the carb-heavy dishes work well as individual components but less so in succession as a three course meal. Service, too, was inconsistent and the policy of allowing customer’s pets into the dining area is questionable. Yet, When Mac Met Cheese has stayed true to its roots and it’s this charm that keeps the diners coming.
When Mac Met Cheese: 42/60
For further information about When Mac Met Cheese, 43-45 Porchester Road, Bayswater, London, W2 5DP visit here.