Food Journal-ism


Lobster Mac & Cheese

I don’t want to figuratively bite the hand that has literally fed me well in the past, so I won’t say the name of the quasi-restaurant that feels more like a pub–a pub because they seem to be popular with the happy hour (from 4 to 8 pm) after-work crowd–they shall remain nameless.

I lied. The name of the place is Callie’s Taqueria & Tequila Bar, located in Harlem on the corner of W 138th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard (formerly known as Lenox Ave, if you’re old school). I changed my mind about extending anonymity because it’s not necessary. Callie’s didn’t do anything wrong.

It’s not you, Callie’s, it’s me. We had a good run: multiple baskets of warm tortilla chips with fresh guacamole; rice and bean bowls with chicken; rice and bean bowls with pork; calamari on a bed of greens tossed in a delightful vinaigrette, with marinara sauce and lemon wedge on the side; fresh-squeezed, unsweetened lemonade with extra lemon.

Plus, Callie’s always gave me plenty of complimentary ice water (which was especially appreciated on the days when Hell was Up in Harlem). But that aside, it comes down to this, as they kind of say: all good-tasting things must come to an end.

Today was the day that my hitting streak ended. Callie’s, as their menu puts it, their dish that’s a major hit: lobster mac & cheese, struck out with me. To be fair, I never had lobster mac & cheese until today, so I have no frame of reference as to what’s a good lobster mac & cheese versus a bad one. I just know this $16 Callie’s appetizer isn’t for me (even if someone else is picking up the bill).

Maybe the Universe knew what It was doing all along: I tried to order the lobster mac & cheese in the past, but it was always out of stock. So I thought it was a blessing when our order taker said it was FINALLY here for the order-taking. Little did I know, it wasn’t going to go down according to my preconceived expectations.

Three bites in, I had to swallow my truth: I am NOT feeling this lobster mac & cheese. I mean, it wasn’t cheap, so I powered through. But afterwards, I had to say something to my meal companion and get that lobster mac & cheese off my chest.

“Lee, I should’ve stuck to being a creature of habit and gotten the calamari.”

Mac & cheese with lobster in it, simply doesn’t agree with me. Who knew? I don’t think there was anything in particular wrong with what Callie’s served me, other than I just don’t like it. It reminds me of people who eat peaches and cottage cheese; it’s good to them, but if I was a cow it would turn ALL FOUR of my stomachs.

Speaking of stomachs, I had to immediately drink about 32-ounces of water upon arriving home because I needed to flush mine. There was some pre-rumbling bubbling going on–caused by a culprit I believe to be whatever agent was used to add creaminess to the lobster mac & cheese. It tasted like mac & cheese stirred up with lobster bisque soup.

In the end, I learned something today: I like my lobster to be lobster, my mac & cheese to be mac & cheese, and never shall the twain mix.

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