It's a good day for cheese lovers.
Murray’s is launching its first-ever mac and cheese concept today: Murray’s Mac and Cheese. Inspired by the ever-popular macaroni and cheese served at Murray’s Cheese Bar, as well as the selection of internationally sourced fromage sold at neighboring Murray’s Cheese Shop.
Cheesing up the former home of Amy’s Bread on a prominent Bleecker Street corner, Murray’s newest fast-casual project features a walk-up counter and seating for twenty. Guests can order four different sizes of mac and cheese, from the small snack cup to a family-style (read: for very hungry people) tray in signature flavors, or customizable macs with add-ins ranging from Parmigiano-Reggiano to pesto to ‘nduja, cheese sticks and more. Seasonal specials, as well as chef collaborations, are also said to be on the way.
One unexpected twist? The Mac & Cheese shop is completely macaroni free: The concept exclusively uses Brooklyn-based Sfoglini’s radiator pasta, which traps the cheese sauces in the folded ruffles and nooks of the pasta.
Upon opening, Murray’s Mac & Cheese’s menu consists of five signature flavors, plus a bonus brunch option (breakfast sausage, bacon, cheddar and scrambled egg) that will eventually be served on weekends. Time Out tried all five signature flavors, to help guide you through the daunting process of selecting that one special mac.
If you’ve ever had a tray of barbecue sauce covered brisket or pulled pork and a side of mac and cheese and purposefully contaminated both with each other’s sauces for one sweet, gooey caloric hybrid (oh, just me?), then you know what to expect here. This mac is based in pepper jack cheese, with chunks of chicken, peppadew pepper and BBQ sauce mixed in. Instead of breadcrumbs, crispy onions (green bean casserole style) top off dish. The barbecue sauce made the dish a little too sweet though, and if I’m going to eat a sugary pasta dish, I want to push it all the way, like a brie and raspberry mac, or goat cheese honey mac or blue cheese dark chocolate mac (hire me, Murray’s!) rather than sweet meats, which just don’t do it for me.
#4. French Onion
Based off the soup of the same name, as a disliker of all things onion flavored, I was not looking forward to trying this one, but, actually, it was surprisingly nice! The carmelized onions were not overpowering and the bacon bits added a nice bit of crunch and salt. The blend of gruyere and raclette cheeses that served as the base for this mac were like I giant cheesy hug, and I would definitely indulge in this dish again (except maybe, honestly, without the onions).
#3. Buffalo Chicken
Dipping Buffalo wings into a gooey pot of mac and cheese may be the dream, but this simplified version inserts cubes of white meat chicken between cheddar coated noodles. Buffalo sauce is stirred in, and the entire creation is topped with a drizzle of ranch and crumbled blue cheese. I found the buffalo sauce overpowering the mild cheese sauce (not necessarily a bad thing if you’re into buffalo, but might not hit the spot if you’re craving something super cheesy), with most of the cheese flavor coming from the blue crumbles, which, actually, just sparked a craving for a 100% blue cheese macaroni dish.
Traditionally made with egg yolks, hard Italian cheese and cured pork, this mac riffs off the simple but deceivingly decadent flavors of the Italian spaghetti dish with a combination of fontina, mozzarella, pancetta and green peas. If you’re looking for a cheese pull, this mac is it, with the white cheeses stretching as far as you can pull the radiatori on your plastic fork. As an adult who was once a child, my natural inclination is to avoid peas whenever they’re on my plate (despite knowing that I actually like them?), but the glue of the melted cheeses stuck the peas to the noodle in a way that reminded me that peas are a) actually refreshing and b) good for you, you dumb picky eater.
#1. Murray's Classic
A solid mac and cheese is hard to beat, and while Murray’s menu offers creative riffs on the Classic, the OG still won my heart. Made with a proprietary blend of cheeses (so secret, you’ll just have to guess what makes that signature, dreamy pastel orange sauce), this macaroni is similar to the version served at Murray’s Cheese Bar, to be devoured with just a crumble of breadcrumbs on top or a slew of customizable mix-ins, but don’t mess too much with perfection. I went for a ball of burrata ($5 additional charge, worth it), which complemented the cracked black pepper, extra virgin olive oil and dripping cheese ball on top of this nearly flawless mac. Highly recommend.
Murray’s Mac and Cheese is located at 254 Bleecker Street and open from 11am–8pm daily.