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Lobster mac & cheese claws onto menus

Playing off the dual trends of comfort food with a twist and affordable indulgences, chefs across the country are combining lobster with various pastas and cheeses, and menuing the increasingly popular dish as “lobster mac & cheese.”

At Coolfish, in Syosset, N.Y., the $18 lobster mac & cheese is prepared with coin-shaped orechiette pasta mixed with a blend of four cheeses — truffled pecorino, aged gouda, white Cheddar and, to make for a better melted, gooier texture, Monterey Jack — added to a shallot-and-wine reduction. The ingredients are mixed with about 8 ounces of lobster meat, and drizzled with truffle oil and finished in the oven to give it a gratin crust.

Orechiette also is the pasta of choice at Grafton Street in Cambridge, Mass., where the $18 dish includes four cheeses and peas, as well as breadcrumbs and truffle oil.

At Tremont 647 in nearby Boston, chef Andy Husbands attracts a brunch crowd with his $14 lobster mac & cheese, topped with Ritz crackers and chopped chives.

At Macbar in New York, the “mac lobsta’” is a casserole-like dish of pasta and lobster mixed with a cognac, tarragon and mascarpone sauce that sells for $8.99 for a small order and $17.99 for a large one.

Also in New York, The Mermaid Inn sells a $9 dish of lobster mac & cheese topped with a truffle panko crust.

At The Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar in Philadelphia, orzo is combined with Gruyère and fontina and sold for $18.

In Denver at Mizuna, chef-owner Frank Bonanno’s $18 mac & cheese calls for actual macaroni mixed with mascarpone cheese. Bonanno says his lobster mac & cheese is a permanent fixture on the menu.

“Although we pride ourselves on changing the menus at each of the restaurants monthly, the mac & cheese at Mizuna has definitely become a staple – if I did remove it, people would still order it.”

The Capital Grille chain offers its lobster mac & cheese — made with campanelle pasta, which is similar to macaroni — as a side dish, tossed in a cream sauce with mascarpone, Havarti and grana padano cheeses, topped with panko breadcrumbs and grated white Cheddar cheese. The price varies depending on the location of the restaurant, but is generally $14-$15.

Lobster mac & cheese is a $13.50 side at Baleen at The Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club in Redondo Beach, Calif. The dish is prepared with chopped claw and knuckle meat from the lobster, Parmigiano-Reggiano and aged Vermont Cheddar melted in a béchamel and flavored with truffle shavings, truffle oil and sea salt.

Grub San Francisco has an entire section of its menu devoted to mac & cheese. It is made with a base of macaroni combined with white and sharp Cheddar cheeses and topped with grana padano breadcrumbs. Fourteen other items can be added for $1 each, including caramelized onions, apple wood smoked bacon, grilled steak, and, naturally, rock lobster.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].

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