This macaroni & cheese adventure snuck up on me as I was puttering around my apartment putting plastic on the windows to keep out old man winter (that’s seriously the most old man sounding sentence I’ve ever constructed). I got a cryptic text from Jewish Friend that simply read “Downtown?” What this meant, I found out when I called her back and said, “I don’t get it,” is that Jewish Friend was downtown and wanted someone to eat with.
Jewish Friend wanted to try Downcity, and I had no idea where that was, which is what makes this an adventure, rather than just two hot bitches having lunch. When we got there, it was just at the end of the lunch rush, so it was packed and very, very warm, but in the three minutes or so it took for our table to be cleared, I had time to appreciate a beautiful martini that some woman at the bar was drinking, and also the decor which I will describe and being classy with a hint of whimsy. The walls are bright orange, but not so bright that you feel like they’re screaming at you, dark wood, adequate but low lighting (not enough to make you sleepy, but this was lunch, so…), modern but without feeling cold. I dig it quite a bit. Apparently, they host a monthly “drag brunch” as well, as featured in the New York Times 36 hours in Providence.
Our server wasn’t in drag, but since it was Halloween he was dressed up like– Gary Glitter? I’m not sure what he was supposed to be, and felt it was rude to ask.
The lunch special of the day was the macaroni and cheese meal, which comes with salad or soup and a delightful raspberry sorbet all for $12.50. Jewish Friend and I eagerly agreed to split that along with the deviled egg appetizer. Unfortunately, the deviled eggs were merely “ok” and Jewish Friend–who has perfected her own recipe for deviled eggs, and is a bit smug about it– remarked “Mine are better than these.”
The macaroni & cheese was decent, but not great. It was certainly the oiliest mac and cheese I’ve had to date, and I think I’ve isolated the problem. The menu describes it as: Baked Penne with 5-cheese Sauce and Panko Crust 9–Asiago, cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, and fontina, which is correct; the major problem is that all of the cheese seems to be on top, and there’s very little in the sauce. When you eat through the crusty, baked top layer, your noodles are nearly naked. It’s a very tricky dish to eat well because you stab the top layer and get a lot of just cheese no noodles, and then you have a lot of noodles with no cheese. Cutting methods need to be employed to achieve balance.
Decor/Atmosphere: 9.5 I love the decor. When we first got there, and it was really crowded, it was a little overwhelming, but I think that was because it was so hot. I do not blame the restaurant for that because it was October 31 and the temperature inexplicably climbed to 62 degrees. Once the crowds cleared out, it was lovely. Mostly I kept thinking about how uncomfortable our server must have been in his silver vinyl pants.
Service: 8 Very good, attentive, costumed. Our server was quick with the refills, and gave us lots of plates for sharing. For some reason, it took forever to get our sorbet, and he kept touching Jewish Friend on the shoulder, which was upsetting to her.
Food: 7 The eggs were mediocre, the salad and sorbet were good, and the mac and cheese was simply ok. I’d go there again though because there are a lot of other things on the menu that I’d love to try, but I would not get the mac and cheese.