Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jus' Mac

My love affair with macaroni and cheese began when I was still in utero. I came out of the womb covered not in placenta but instead Kraft macaroni and cheese dust. The doctors were baffled, but hey, they'd seen stranger. I made my first box of macaroni and cheese before I could walk, crawling around on the counter top, brushing my onesie out of the way of the burner on the stove, my hands barely large enough to carve the required three tablespoons of butter off the stick. I'm convinced my parents did feed me other things when I was growing up, but all I can remember was macaroni and cheese; all my macro-nutrients were provided by that little blue box. Macaroni and cheese and I grew apart slightly when I reached high school, like most relationships of the youth do; I discovered ramen for the first time, and would carry bowls of it to my cave to slurp at while I did "homework" and worked on "things". Macaroni must never hear what ramen and I did together.

We fell in love again in college. I discovered Velveeta Easy Mac, and the single serving, microwavable containers and I hit it off immediately. We behaved like young lovers. We'd lay in bed together for hours, Velveeta whispering sweet words of encouragement, myself, gently caressing its yellow exterior, forking the beautiful shells into my mouth one after another. I treated Velveeta so well, buying boxes and boxes of it, microwaving it every time I needed a fix. It wasn't long before I woke up one morning with no recollection of the night before, covered in noodles, bits of cheese dripping from my hair. My room was a mess - cases of Velveeta had been destroyed, hardened shells crunching into the carpet with every step I took. I was an addict. I had to stop. A freshman in college, and my life was so nearly over.

I gave macaroni and cheese up and was clean for a year, year and a half. Then I started to hear rumors of the most wonderful place. A restaurant in the Heights that served nothing but macaroni and cheese? It was any Kraftddicts dream. I was wary of backsliding, though. I remembered the great Velveetagate of '09. I didn't want to slip in my ways. I waited nearly six months before I first entered the doors of Jus' Mac, tasted my first bite of their cuisine. I'll never forget that day - it was sunny, early in the morning. I was wearing an old T-shirt and had my hair down. The first bite and it all came back. Hello, my name is Catherine, and I'm a macaholic.

I've been back four times since then, which puts it as one of my most frequented restaurants in the Houston area. Everything on their menu is delicious, but everyone here knows that isn't what this is all about. This is arbitrary criticism, and this is my first negative review.

I'd like to start off by repeating to you that the restaurant is called Jus' Mac. I mean, what does that mean to you? I assumed that "Jus'" was short for "Just". As in, "Just Mac and cheese and the other delicious ingredients we mix into our food stuffs." A quick look at the menu, however, shoes that "Jus' Mac" is actually an abbreviation for "Just things that aren't mac and also mac". Do you know what else they serve? Paninis. Does anything about paninis seem like macaroni and cheese to you? One of them is cheesy and noodly and delicious, and the other has way too many vowels. It doesn't make sense. Restaurants have to follow "truth in menu" laws, and I assume that this is the only thing about the FDA I approve of. Dare I suggest they also create "truth in restaurant name: laws? I'm just saying. You put paninis on a menu, and people are going to start ordering them. What's going to happen to my lover, macaroni and cheese? It's a delicate soul. It can't handle the competition, it'll break it's tiny, chemically flavored heart. -1000 for taking the emphasis away from my favorite food.

Another problem with the restaurant is that it's tiny. Every time I've been in there, they've been busier than House of Pies after the bars close. Worse, even, because drunk people will let you share a table with them and get a couple french fries off their plate when they aren't looking. I'll be honest. I like my delicious restaurants to be completely devoid of people. If I have to actually wait in line to order my food ... I mean come on, guys. I'm an American. I haven't waited for anything since they made TVs that could fast forward through commercials. I don't even stop at red lights anymore. (That was a joke, Mom and Dad.) It's intensely frustrating that everybody else likes this restaurant as much as I do. The parking lot is tiny. Sometimes I have to park across the street. ACROSS THE STREET! And then - THEN! - walk across the road to get to the restaurant. Once again, I'd like to point out that I'm an American! They give out those carts at Walmart that beep when they back up for a reason. We've evolved past this sort of exercise. So -24 points for being so disgustingly popular. Some of those people probably ordered paninis! The staff at Jus' Mac is unbelievably friendly, and it just really gets my goat that they're friendly to that whole crowd of satisfied customers and not just me. Harumph. You know what? Make that -26.

In addition to serving my favorite kind of food, Jus' Mac does, I'll begrudgingly admit, also employ my favorite shameless marketing technique - restaurant merchandising. There's nothing I love more than a restaurant that will sell me one of their T-shirts. I will openly admit to you guys that I only use my Freebird's Fanatics card to earn points for a T-shirt. There's just something really charming to me about a restaurant that knows you love them so much you'll wear their logo emblazoned across your chest to class or to visit your grandma. I haven't caved yet and bought one, but I also haven't gone to a Macaholic Anonymous meting in a while, so classmates: stay tuned for my new wardrobe. +16 for giving me just what I want.

Like I said to you guys, the food at Jus' Mac is really delicious, but we all know that that's not what's really important in a restaurant. False advertising and crowds of people? I'd never recommend this place to you. Get your own box of macaroni and cheese, and while you're eating it, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at arbitrarycriticism@live.com.

Jus' Mac on Urbanspoon

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