SMAC, where have you been all my carb & cheese obsessed Glasgow life?!
After hearing about SMAC through Twitter it took very little convincing to get a date for a midweek date night last Wednesday (24th April).
What is SMAC?
SMAC, or more formally known as the Scottish Macaroni Appreciation Club, is a monthly get together in Sloans where people eat macaroni & generally share their love of the mac n cheese. Tickets are £10.75 per person & are available to book from their Facebook page. This event sells out fast so I would encourage anyone interested to book asap!
The night kicked off at 7pm upstairs in Sloans. When we arrived we were shown to our table upon which was a paper place mat outlining the order of the evening and the menu of mac & cheeses accompanied by a bowl of salad covered in an unidentifiable sauce. A strange addition to a blatant carb & cheese fuelled night dontcha think?
Tables were laid out very close together in a small room, hardly conducive to privacy but then again it wasn’t to be expected. This is the kinda evening you may wanna bring a small crowd of friends to rather than gaze lovingly into the eyes of your significant other.
After ordering a couple drinks from the bar and soaking up the atmosphere we were all served a bowl of chips (as if the 4 versions of pasta we were about to eat wouldn’t be enough to fill us up!). Although these went down a lot better than the salad which remained untouched for the evening. Approx 15mins after arriving we were all given a SMAC Founder Member card and invited to pledge allegiance with 1 hand placed firmly on our hearts and our tongues firmly in our cheeks.
Food was served around 7.20pm in a buffet style with 2 serving stations set up at either end of the room. Remember this if you ever go. If you arrive late you may not get your bowl of chips, membership card or get a good (fresh) selection of food. Don’t worry though, I am sure your bowl of salad will be waiting.
Sloans Legendary Macaroni Cheese – This was a classic mac & cheese which used Gruyere. I found it very creamy & cheesy although the pasta was a little overcooked to my taste, which was a running feature throughout the macs. I find with such a creamy sauce you do need a little bite in your pasta to stop it feeling like baby food.
Pastitsio (Greek Macaroni Cheese with Minced Beef) – This was my number 1 choice of the evening. It was macaroni layered with mince & a bechemal sauce. It was slightly more Italian than Greek I would say, think a lasagne except with macaroni. The addition of some cinnamon & oregano into the mince would have helped its Greekness along. Otherwise, this was inspired. I will definitely be experimenting with this fella in the future.
Macaroni with Wild Mushrooms & Truffle Oil – This was exactly what it says on the tin and it was my least favourite of the night. However this is perhaps based on my supreme dislike of Truffles (and rosewater, parsnips, parma violets, Turkish Delights – basically any food with a perfurme flavour) rather than the food itself. Although I think they were maybe a little too heavy handed with the oil. Top marks for creativity though.
We all received about 2 large ladles of each macaroni onto the 1 plate. I found this a shame because it meant that all the flavours mixed into one another so it was difficult to taste them separately (and separate the truffle one). It would have been nicer to have them served separately, in ramekins perhaps? Even though we had the Mystery Mac still to come we were encouraged to come back up for 2nd helpings ifour stomachs could handle it.
Previous Mystery Macs have included: Fruit Crumble Mac & Cauliflower Mac. Ours was introduced as:
Ham hough, leek & hollandaise sauce – An inspired & interesting combo. While I thought the sauce was a little watery at first (blaming it on a roux issue) when I realised its a hollandaise it made more sense and not as strange a combo as it may seem. I loved the thick chunks of ham & the smoky flavour throughout. It was made even more perfect that it wasn’t over seasoned & the leeks were very soft & sweet.
Once we have polished off our Macs we all voted for the SMAC Daddy with a show of hands and the Mystery Mac was crowned the winner. A first in SMAC history. Shattered from the carb fest and pre dinner cocktails at Darcy’s, headed home. Forgoing public transport we choose to burn off the calories with a walk home then vegged on the sofa watching Friends re-runs. I told you we weren’t romantics!
Overall I think it was a tad overpriced for what we got. We effectively paid £11 for a plate of macaroni and remember you don’t know what kind of macaroni it is until you arrive (this is perhaps not a good night out for picky people) and most pubs in Glasgow would charge on average £7.50 for this.
I do understand with such an event there are overheads which must be reflected in the ticket price. However I would personally prefer to skip the carb fest (chips) & attempt at greenery (salad) and shave off a couple £ in the price or at least have a beer included with my meal for the same price.
I just couldn’t help think that if we had went to the Bier Halle we could’ve gotten 2 pizzas & at least 2 beers for the same price our SMAC tickets were.
That said, all in all it was a good night and as a casual midweek affair after work it was fun. The atmosphere was buzzing and hats off to the staff & organisers. They were clearly enthusiastic and you got the impression they genuinely wanted to be there. Everyone was loving the kitsch factor & the food was overall very good.
They also had a belter of a playlist which featured cheesy pop tunes (heavy on the 90s) which we loved. Anyone remember Mark Morrisons Return of the Mack?
Furthermore, it introduced me to Sloans. A quirky wee pub down an alleyway off Argyle Street which we had passed several times & assumed to be an ‘old mans’ style pub (you know the kind). It turns out this wee venue plays host to a range of themed nights which caught our eye (2 for 1 Dinner & Waynes World – aMAzing!). I will definitely be paying more attention to this place in the future.
Would I go to SMAC again? Yeah probably. They had me at Mac n Cheese to be fair. Maybe not regularly but for a casual night out & for some macaroni inspiration, it is definitely something to consider.