Forget avocado on toast. The new dish that’s topping both menus and people’s Instagram feeds is less superfood, and more super comforting. Macaroni cheese, the childhood classic that has been popular in Britain since Mrs Beaton’s Victorian cookbook, has seen a renaissance in restaurants across the country. Once viewed as a stodgy, retro dish or a calorific American ready meal, macaroni cheese has seen a resurgence in popularity to match that of avocado.
According to Horizons, the market research company specialising in food, the number of mac ‘n’ cheese dishes offered on restaurant menus has risen by 550% since 2010. Furthermore, on Instagram #macncheese has nearly 600,000 hits, making it 2016’s rising dish of choice.
Whether you prefer your macaroni cheese to be of the boxed or homemade variety, the mac ‘n’ cheese trend offers an arguably much needed antidote to the #eatclean brigade who has dominated social media of late. Although kale, quinoa and spinach are all worthy weekday ingredients, occasionally you just can’t beat the cheesy, indulgent comfort of a well made macaroni cheese.
But whether it’s playing a simple supporting part to a main or taking on the starring role, macaroni cheese has moved on from the dish you remember from childhood teatimes. Not content with the simple masterpiece of classic mac ‘n’ cheese, chefs across Britain have played with the original recipe, coming up with dishes that are as innovative as they are delicious. Fancy a nibble? We’ve selected five of the best restaurants from across the country whose macaroni cheese is as Instagram-worthy as it is tasty. Kale, your time is over.
1) #macfridays at Tom’s Kitchen, London
Not content to leave macaroni cheese languishing in the wings, Tom’s Kitchen places the dish firmly in the spotlight with its now infamous mac ‘n’ cheese Fridays. Offering five gourmet versions of their traditional macaroni cheese, #macfridays is a destination for lovers of the cheesy stuff. Inventive and pun-loving dishes include the Fleetwood Mac, a crab, lobster and dill dish; and Piggy Mac, with sticky pork and barbecue sauce. Friday’s never tasted so good.
Tom’s Kitchen, check website for various venues across UK
2) Because every steak, needs it cheese: Mac’n’Cheese at Hawksmoor
The highly acclaimed Hawksmoor is apparently ‘the best steak restaurant in the UK’ — so what have they got on Mac & Cheese? Well, they don’t just serve up the beef. Snuggled amongst its range of classic sides at the Guildhall and Manchester venues, is a delicious short rib macaroni cheese. An admittedly indulgent accompaniment to steak, Hawksmoor’s macaroni cheese has the addition of rich, tender short rib meat that adds real depth to an already excellent dish. It’s a must for those who want a side of cheesy comfort with their steak. Plus, if you fancy your mac ‘n’ cheese as more of a main, try the Lobster Mac’n’Cheese dish exclusive to Hawksmoor’s Guildhall restaurant.
Visit the Hawksmoor website for various venue locations
3) The Burgers are Better at Lebowskis
What does a burger need to make it even more delicious? A big dollop of macaroni cheese on the top, that’s what. Lebowskis in Edinburgh and Glasgow pride themselves on their ‘legendary’ burgers, but it’s the mac ‘n’ cheese addition to their classic beef pattie that caught our eye. Served with mozzarella, a bacon fritter and smoked bacon jam, the Bacon Mac ‘N’ Cheese burger will definitely keep out the Scottish cold.
18 Morrison Street, Edinburgh, EH3 8BJ
1008 Argyle Street, Finnieston, Glasgow, G3 8LX
4) Nosh & Quaff, Birmingham
Instead of casting the mac ‘n’ cheese as the supporting act to the main burger event, Nosh & Quaff puts the dish front and centre with its Truffled Mac & Cheese Burger. Conjured up alongside abalone mushroom, watercress and veggie shallots, the veggie delight lets the macaroni cheese do all the talking. All about fun and flavour, Nosh & Quaff takes the tasty dish to a whole other league. We know it’s cheesy, but it’ll make you feel grate.
Nosh & Quaff, 130 Colmore Row, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B3 3AP
5) Start The Bus, Bristol
Following in the inspired footsteps of Lebowskis is Start The Bus, a Bristol-based eatery that offers mac ‘n’ cheese as a viable addition to its extensive build a burger menu. Don’t fancy it on your burger? Then opt for it as a side, when the macaroni comes baked with a creamy cheese sauce with a hint of Dijon mustard, topped with breadcrumbs and served with garlic bread. Any one hungry?
Start The Bus, 7-9 Baldwin St, Bristol, City of Bristol, BS1 1RU
6) Mac’ your own
Feeling inspired by our run down of delicious mac ‘n’ cheese dishes to try but can’t wait to make a reservation? Get your macaroni cheese fix in the comfort of your own home with our super easy-to-follow recipe from award winning chef Adam Gray of Bourne & Hollingsworth. Adam advises us that it can easily be adapted by swapping the ham with your meat of choice: “Try using leftover cooked chicken or turkey, or maybe some chopped bacon or pancetta”.
There’s even more delicious macaroni cheese recipes here.
Macaroni Ham & Cheese, by Adam Gray
- 400g Macaroni pasta
- 180ml Single cream
- 100g Half fat crème fraîche
- 1 tsp English mustard
- 200g Half fat medium cheese, grated
- 4 slices of cooked ham, cut in 1cm cubes
- 1 tsp rapeseed oil
- 1 pinch of black pepper
- 1 pinch of salt
- Mix the cooked hot macaroni pasta with the cream and ham mixture and place in an ovenproof dish.
- Add most of the grated cheese to the cream mixture, reserving some for later, and stir until all the cheese is fully incorporated.
- Fill a large saucepan with water. Add a splash of rapeseed oil and bring to the boil. Add the dried macaroni and cook as per packet instructions. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
- In a separate pan, add the single cream, English mustard and crème fraîche and slowly melt over a low heat.
- Add the chopped ham to the cream mixture and season with a pinch of salt and black pepper.
- Sprinkle some more grated cheese on top and place under a hot grill for 4–6 minutes to brown the cheese. Serve immediately.