By SUSAN ERICSON
Mac Attack Gourmet Cheesery blew into Red Bank last month, displacing a short-lived burger joint. So are hamburgers out, and macaroni-and-cheese in?
Could be: the new kid in town is loud, sneaky and completely unexpected.
“I want to make simple food great and relatable – mac-and-cheese, grilled cheese –stuff you eat growing up,” says chef Abe Elkomey, who at the age of 23 is already accomplished in the kitchen. At 19, he came in second in a competition among New Jersey country club chefs, and has worked as sous chef at both the Bayonne Country Club and Satis Bistro in Jersey City.
“Even though we’re quick service, we cook to order,” Elkomey said. “Everything is fresh.”
A few words about some sneaky surprises. The grilled cheese sandwiches are made on special bread from the Montclair Bread Company, where a French baguette is formed into a pullman loaf. The manchego-and-apple grilled-cheese sandwich came with basil leaves inside. Definitely a chef’s touch.
The macaroni and cheese is made with a mixture of cheeses. The lobster mac, for instance, has manchego and parmesan, with plenty of lobster. The southwest mac blends cheddar and pepperjack with jalapeno, corn, and a cornbread topping. It is just the right amount of spicy.
My only complaint about the macaroni and cheese is that it is too elegant to eat from a takeout container. Bring it home, serve it in a fine bone china dish and enjoy a crisp Sancerre with it.
The mac-and-cheese choices come in small or large, the least expensive being the traditional at $5, and the most expensive the lobster mac at $10 for the small and $16 for the large.
Elkomey and his brother, Hasan Elkomey, co-own the new Broad Street establishment with John Castiglione, who says he is on a mission.
“I didn’t want a lack of interaction with the customers,” he said. “Customer service will be friendly and involved.” He noted that the kids’ menu came at the suggestion of a mom in Montclair, where the trio opened the first Mac Attack last December. Red Bank is the second.
The grilled cheese sandwiches cost between $5.50 for traditional and $12.50 for the “show stopper,” which “you have to come ready for,” said Castiglione. It consists of two hamburger patties between grilled cheeses, with lettuce, tomato, pickle and aioli.
One suggestion: request the paprika aioli sauce with everything. It is what brings very good food to gourmet status.
Mac Attack’s hours are here. It offers free delivery.