My mate Ben and I have had a ‘macaroni cheese blog’ for about 5 years now that’s existed only in our hearts, minds and texts. Now that I have a website, I thought I may as well make it a reality. We’ve ranked and discussed in-depth every mac & cheese we’ve sampled since we started saying we had a blog as a joke, and yet have no formal record of the scores. Until now, the gold standard that all macs must be held to is Ben’s Mum’s mac & cheese (or as he calls it, simply, ‘Mother’s’) despite the fact I have never eaten nor seen Ben’s Mum’s Macaroni Cheese. I trust his word. Far and away the worst Macaroni Cheese probably in the entire world was one Ben ordered from the Hungry Horse in Greenock: a turgid, grey, affair scoffed after a disappointing Dunfermline away loss to Morton 3-2, after being 2-0 up in 2017.


The Difficult Second Blog Post (Old Salty's, The Barony, The Inverleith)

Edit: I couldn't find any images for these meals to refresh my memory, but it turned out I just hadn't looked very hard and I ended up finding photos for all. Seeing the photos has changed how I feel about them but I'm not gonna go back and edit the reviews. Perhaps in the future this blog post will be important evidence in a scientific essay about the fallibility of the human mind.

Apology / disclaimer / a thing about Ronnie O'Sullivan

As is typically the way with every blog I've seen anyone start (or indeed try to get off the ground myself) the first entry is written in a haze of excitement and then it's left untouched for months. There are a few reasons for this particular tail off: as always with me the fact I forgot and/or couldn't be arsed is right up there, there was also a brief spell this year where I was lying to myself that I wasn't going to eat dairy. At time of writing I consider myself once again "aff the mac" as I'm trying to eat healthily and shift some Fringe/All inclusive holiday weight. It's never worked before but this time I've bought Ronnie O'Sullivan's cook book and I don't want to let him down.

Anyway, there are three* macaroni cheeses I remember consuming in the last 5 months, so here are reviews based on my sketchy memory of them, as we know human memory is unreliable at the best of times so please don't use any of these reviews against me in a court of law. This all happened a while ago, but I'll review it now anyway in retrospect. Sort of like when Rolling Stone re-evaluate Sgt. Peppers every time they need to make a list of 'Best Albums' to shift some magazines.

The Inverleith, Edinburgh

Is this a great photo? No. Does it look like dog food with 4 tubes of macaroni jutting out? It doesn't not look like dog food with 4 tubes of macaroni jutting out. If I'd have seen this photo before writing the review from memory I may have gone down to a 6. I feel like my hunger elevated this dish to a 7. But I'll stick with it, even though it's a kick in the teeth that the photo reveals it came with neither chips nor garlic bread. Much like the referendum on membership to the European Union, not enough vital information was made readily available to make an informed decision.

My main memory of this meal is that I'd been out with my girlfriend for a walk and it was hot and we suddenly felt tired and fuckin starvin, so the review will have to take that into consideration. I added pulled pork to the mac which I actually don't agree with - I generally think leave mac alone, it stands on its own two feet, but as I said I was a hungry boy. I recall it coming in a little black pot, which I was initially disappointed with but it was a deeper affair than it seemed at first. The pasta was quite small tubes in an effective but unremarkable sauce. The pork sat on top, rather than mixed in and was decent but in mixing into the mac I felt it overpowered the dish with salty BBQ flavour. Honestly can't even remember for sure what it came with but if I was a betting man I'd say garlic bread. I tend not to forget chips.

All in all it put out my hunger fire and was good value for money. A decent 7/10.

The Barony, Edinburgh

In seeing the photo again I'm impressed I remembered the brioche croutons, though it does remind me that I was actually quite unhappy at the portion size, especially given the price (£13!). The salad:mac ratio is approaching 1:1 here which is scandalous. Garlic bread was shite, too. In researching the price (£13) online I was also reminded that this is 'truffle' mac and cheese and, though I don't really know what truffle is or what it tastes like it does go some way to explaining the rich, albeit Tory, nature of the sauce.

The Barony is a nice pub, let's start there. It's expensive for food, however. More money than I'd normally be comfortable parting with for pub food but the quality is good. The main talking point of The Barony's mac and cheese is the sauce, man. It's velvety as fuck. It's unlike anything I've encountered on the mac and cheese circuit, and I've eaten a lot (despite what you'd assume from my piss-poor attempt at running a dedicated m&c blog). It's a rich, (I'm gonna use the word velvety again) velvety liquid that feels decadent in the mouth. From memory there was some kind of crouton situation on top involving toasted bits of brioche that I didn't vibe with. It's nice but not as nice as it should be. It's quite a Tory mac and cheese when you think about it in the cold light of day.

For the sauce alone I think we can't go lower than a 7 but for the price we can't go above 8, so let's call it a 7.5/10

Old Salty's, Glasgow

I don't know why this photo is so small and cursed! I sent it the same way as the others. Anyway, what it lacks in pixels it more than makes up in uncomplicated joy. I've got a few versions of this photo from previous visits and what marks this particular entry out is the chef has popped some herbs on there which has never happened before. Maybe he knew I was there to review???

The most recent of the macs in my mind and also (spoiley alert!) the best. This is a mac I've committed to memory. Partly cause I've eaten it about a hundred times as I used to live 30 seconds away from Old Salty's, and partly cause I actually remembered to take a photo of this one. On this occasion I dined alone because I don't a have a proper job and all my mates are lame-o cucks who go to "work" and make "money". It was pissing down and I listened to a football podcast on my noise-cancelling headphones, the way Dr. Dre intended. It's just class man, I love it. It comes in a big dish and you get a million chippy chips with it, there's a nice melt on the cheese and a creamy sauce that announces itself when you push your fork into the crust. An added bonus with Salty's is they do the best tartare sauce which is runny and squeezed out of a bottle, obviously intended for their many fish supper options but if you're a visionary it compliments the meal beautifully. There's even cursory nod to salad with a couple leaves in a dressing too if that makes you feel good. Something for everyone. Just a lovely old time. 9.5/10.

Lots of love, Stuart

*Also in looking back through photos on my camera roll to see if I'd taken any other photos of mac and cheese, there was one image I'd captured of a mac Ben had that I do not remember at all. I probably said at the time I wanted a taste so I could add to my blog but even then we probably both knew I was 'at it' (you can't evaluate on one mouthful, it's unethical from a journalistic stand point.**) Anyway no memory of where or when that was or how good it was but I know it was Ben because you can see his Titus Andronicus t-shirt in the background of the photo and I don't know anyone else who would wear that.

**Today (19th September 2019) Laura Kuenssberg of the BBC initiated a Twitter pile-on on the disgruntled father of a sick child who was caught on camera questioning Boris Johnson about the state of the NHS, and we also learned that a hack journalist outed Gareth Thomas as HIV positive to his parents before he got the chance to himself. It's been a damning day for journalism and I don't wish to drag it, or indeed this country, any further into the gutter.

Dunno what the fuck this is. I'll ask Ben, though I know he won't remember either.

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