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14 April 2012

Tonight's Episode: Mac Attack

If there is one thing you need to know about Chef Jeremiah Bacon of The Macintosh  (as well as Oak Steakhouse) is that his dishes are technically perfect. Watching him in his new kitchen, touching every plate, you don't have to worry about the temperature of your steak or the seasoning on your fish. In the many, many meals we have had in his dining rooms, I've never ONCE had a complaint.

That leads us to our first real dinner at The Macintosh, Chef Bacon's King Street location. A big, beautiful bar greets you. Unfortunately, so do a throng of college kids who for some unknown reason have picked The Mac as their drinking spot of choice. Once you get past the drunken idiocy and into the dining room, things get back on track. 

The decor is, for the lack of better words, upscale-rustic cowboy. I have no other way to describe it. From the Edison bulbs, to the open kitchen with classic grandma white cabinetry, The Mac does its best to make you feel comfortable.

For our appetizers, Chef Bacon was kind enough to do split plates for us. This works great since I hate sharing. I had the housemade ricotta gnudi ($14) with Folly River stone crabs, cherry tomatoes, preserved Meyer lemons, and fine herbs. Gnudi is a lot like gnocchi, except the dumpling is made with cheese instead of potato. Beautiful balance of flavor, with a texture that is pleasingly gooey. The crab is sweet and rich, making this dish a surprisingly light and bright hit.

For the second appetizer, we go with one of The Girl's favorites, sautéed scallops ($13) with asparagus, English peas, Palmetto sweet onions, and carrot butter. Why is this one of her favorites? Chef Bacon makes the best scallops in town, PERIOD. Seasoning is always spot-on, caramelization is perfect, temperature is exactly where you want it. These are perfect for apps, entrée, or even dessert. If you dine at Oak or The Mac, order the scallops.

For my entrée, I was given (I decided to let the kitchen choose for me) grilled SC sheepshead ($26) with minced SC clams, Kennerty Farms asparagus, Ambrose Farms green garlic, Kurios Farms black cherry tomatoes, and clam broth. The beautiful grilled meat of the fish has a distinctly crab-like flavor. The clam broth gives a hint of briny cream richness. The overall mouth feel is pleasant and warming.

For a side dish we settled in on the bone marrow bread pudding ($7). Okay, I settled in on it. The Girl looked at me like I was an idiot. Then she tried it. If you are a grilled cheese fan then this simple dish is right up your ally. This tastes like the single most decedent grilled cheese ever. Win.

For her entrée, I convince the girl to go with the 7 oz grilled deckle ($29) with celeriac purée, creamed Blackbird Farms braising greens, pickled pearl onion, and roasted fingerling potatoes. If you don't know what the deckle is, I feel sadness for you. The deckle is the fat-cap of the strip above the ribs. in this case it is the cap of the rib-eye. So the richest, tastiest part of the richest, tastiest steak in the cow. Jeremiah Bacon can cook cow as well as anyone on the planet. The Girl's only complaint was the greens. It's not that there was anything wrong with them, she just doesn't like leafy greens. This meat is so FREAKIN amazing. The pickled onion is also a complete delight.

The dessert was a chocolate, caramel, and sea-salt torte. The bitter chocolate and sea-salt are a great counter to the über-sweet caramel. Here is the only tweak I would have made in the meal. I would have loved a little pickled orange rind to give a touch of brightness to a darkly sweet dish.

The Macintosh is a love letter to American cuisine. The dishes are straightforward, elegant, technically perfect statements of adoration for the classics. In Chef Bacon's cooking you see a firm and restrained hand, with a true love of the ingredients. The Girl loves his cooking, and with good reason. James Beard nomination well deserved.

The Scores
Ambiance: 3/5
Food: 10/10
Service: 4.5/5
Value: 4.5/5
Overall: 22/25 If you can get past the drunk kids at the bar, you have a fantastic restaurant, with a superb chef. 
The Macintosh on Urbanspoon


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