Dinner and a Show: S’Mac and Blue Man Group

Blue Man Group Theatre

Or rather, a show and dinner, I should say.

Red Molly and I celebrated Valentine’s Day on the day after this year.  It turned out to be a great idea in itself – we were pretty worn out on Friday, it was the end of a long week – but the real reason we did it was because that was the day that our Groupon was valid.

Groupon is a wonderful thing.  You can see this big, beautiful city on the (relatively) cheap, but like all discount deals, there are conditions.  That’s how we ended up seeing Blue Man Group at noon on Saturday.

Red Molly had never seen Blue Man Group, and she was very eager to find out what all the fuss was about.  I had seen it before, and I was perhaps even more eager.

You see, when College Sweetheart and I first graduated, we moved to Boston, where Blue Man Group is (or was, the situation may have changed) pretty much the only long-term fixture of the theatre scene.  She got a job there, and I saw the show so many times that I could tell you to the minute how much time was left (I would say something about how I could quote it from memory, but it has no lines).  But that was in the late Nineties and early Aughts…certainly no later than 2003, when I moved to NYC.  What had changed in that time?

Quite a lot, as it turned out.

In the late Nineties and the early Aughts, the Internet was just coming into its own, and smartphones hadn’t happened yet.  When you have a show whose theme is the disconnection of the modern world and people coming together to make art, how can you not include sections dealing with those modern methods of communication that, all too often, only help us to disconnect?

It’s impossible to summarize Blue Man Group, and difficult to review it.  It’s just too wonderfully weird.  There’s humor, great music played on instruments you never considered, and visual awesomeness.  You really should just go see it.  If “performance art” conjures less-than-entertaining images for you, Blue Man Group may change your mind.  Two warnings, though:

1) There’s a lot of audience participation.  Usually just individuals picked out of the audience, but sometimes everybody.  Go prepared to participate.

2) There are three seating areas: orchestra, mezzanine, and poncho.  It gets messy.  Non-toxic, but sometimes gross, liquids go flying everywhere.  They provide the ponchos, but I still recommend dressing down for the show.  Don’t worry about it.  This isn’t Broadway, this is St. Mark’s.  It’s expected.

After the show, Red Molly and I went to S’Mac:

S'Mac

Or, to give the full name, Sarita’s Mac And Cheese.

That’s right.  S’Mac is one of those marvelous things that could only happen in NYC: a restaurant devoted entirely to Mac and Cheese.  Served in the cast-iron skillet, their mac and cheese is delightfully gooey, with a nice, crispy cheese crust on top.  And if you follow that link, you’ll see that it comes in an amazing variety.  I myself had the buffalo chicken (whoo!  Bites back!), while Red Molly had the Parisienne.

Be aware, the stuff is incredibly filling.  I was ravenous when we went in at 2 PM or so, then I had a Major Munch, and I didn’t need to eat anything else for the rest of the  day.  If you’re anything less than ravenous, go for the Nosh.  Only attempt the Mongo if you’re both: a) a heavy eater by nature; and b) extremely hungry.

Also be aware that the place is very popular.  I recommend either going to the 33rd street branch, which has more room, or doing what Red Molly and I did and try to time your visit for somewhere between the lunch and dinner rushes.  Even arriving when we did, we had to wait a few minutes for a table.  By the same token, don’t linger if you’ve finished your food and people are waiting (NYC etiquette tip for the day!).

Too many people think that New York food is either going to be crushingly expensive (and it will be if you hang out in Times Square and other Midtown areas), or they’re intimidated by the vast variety and think it’s all going to be too weird for them to eat, so they retreat to familiar havens like Applebee’s or TGIFriday’s.

You didn’t come all this way to eat somewhere you could eat at home.  Here’s a place where you can get your comfort food with some genuine NYC flair.

PS – if you’re using Groupon or some other discount, please tip like you paid full price.  People have to make a living off those tips.

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Filed under My Life, New York Life

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