Date Night #1: Mad Macs
Ah date night. That wonderful night when you screw your courage to the sticking point and put yourself out there for one more spin on the merry-go-round of love. This one took place at Market House in Brixton, where a pop-up restaurant, The Mac Factory was cooking up a few modern twists on an old dinnertime favourite…
V. was slightly late of course, but as I’d learnt over the last few months, that was part of her charm. I didn’t notice her walking up the steps of Brixton tube, engrossed as I was in a book, but then she seemed to suddenly materialise by my side. With her flowing white dress, dark hair tussled by the wind and a cheeky glint in her emerald eyes, she looked fantastic. I felt so happy to see her – or maybe that was just the courage giving G&T I’d drunk beforehand. Not that I had any reason to worry that it wouldn’t go well – V. had recently moved in with me, and although our new-found domesticity was warm and comforting, I still loved taking her out on the town.
As we walked to Market House, grey skies prowled overhead, threatening to unleash hell at any moment. Luckily, we managed to get inside the venue just as a terrific explosion of thunder announced both our arrival and a sudden downpour. The rain was almost sideways, and I crossed my fingers that someone had been organised enough to gather up two of every animal beforehand. Mainly I was just glad that I wouldn’t have to spend the date smelling like a damp dog.
What you need on a day like this is something warm. Something comforting that reminds you of home and childhood. In short, you want a big helping of macaroni cheese – the culinary equivalent of a hug. Luckily, we were in just the right place. The Mac Factory was the inspiration of Chef-owner Graham Bradbury, who, after eating some mac & cheese at a Byron restaurant, realised the potential for jazzing up this old favourite. That night, he excitedly told his wife about his plans to open a gourmet mac-based food stall and she smiled and told him to go for it. That stall opened in Camden Lock last year,and now Graham was taking his 21st Century creations on the road, starting with a residency at Market House in Brixton.
It was certainly a good choice of venue – Market House is nothing if not homely, with it’s dark wine coloured wall paper, lit warmly by electric lamps that wouldn’t look out of place in a coal mine. As the rain lashed down outside, V. and I excitedly perused the offerings. The menu read like a list of fantasy versions of all your favourite naughty comfort treats – we ordered Pork Confit Corn Dogs, Crunchy Fried Chicken Wings, and a bowl of the Raging Cajun Mac & Cheese, which threw popcorn chicken and Cajun spices into the comforting mix.
When the food arrived, I barely had time to take a picture before V. got stuck into the Raging Cajun. She smiled with glee as the Cajun spices and fire-roasted peppers lit up her tastebuds like fireworks, only to be instantly soothed by the smooth and mellow mac & cheese surrounding it. “Oh this is horrible,” she laughed as she quickly plunged her fork in for another delicious mouthful. “You definitely don’t want to try any of this!” Luckily I managed to get a fork in edgeways, and rescued a mouthful that included plenty of the signature Parmesan and thyme crumble topping. It was incredible.
The Crunchy Fried Chicken Wings were also great – with none of the dripping grease that you usually associate with deep fried chicken. Of course, it also came with a selection of waffles and a delicious chilli and maple syrup dip, which certainly didn’t hurt. The corn dogs were yummy too, although the confit pork was quite hard to separate, meaning that the whole thing sort of fell apart on you after a single bite. Great for your belly, but not so great if you don’t want to look up and see your girlfriend looking at you with a horrified look on her face after witnessing the carnage.
After the meal we sat there feeling very satisfied and full. The Mac Factory had definitely impressed. On the way home in the cab, the rain continued to thrash against the windows. As we pulled onto my road, I asked V. if it was starting to feel like home yet. “Silly!” She grinned. “Home isn’t a place. It’s wherever you are.” And then she held my arm tightly and rested her head on my shoulder.
The Mac Factory kitchen pop up will be at Market House until 29th May, so you’ve still got a few days left to get in on the mac action!
Jon Hamblin writes ‘The Things I’ve Done To Impress Women”, an award winning blog that details his frequent failures to impress any women ever.
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