I grew up on my mother’s extremely basic style mac and cheese. It has two ingredients: macaroni and cheese. No cheese sauce, just layered pasta and cheese, baked until melted in the middle and crunchy on top. I thought that this was the only kind of mac and cheese I would ever truly love, until I was introduced to Canoe Tavern and Restaurant in Center Harbor, New Hampshire.

Canoe’s mac and cheese, available as a generously-portioned side dish or entrée, has the perfect ratio of cheese sauce to pasta. It avoids the equally off-putting pitfalls of too much gooey sauce, making the dish soup-like, and not enough, leaving it slightly dry and bland. Canoe’s particular interpretation also opts for longer curlicue-shaped noodles instead of traditional macaroni, giving the dish a sturdy, hearty feel.

Going beyond the humble, comfort food origins of macaroni and cheese, Canoe’s uses a light colored cheese with a rich, slightly sharp flavor. Every forkful proves that it deserves to be in an entirely different category than instant, packaged mac and cheese (Easy Mac will never provide quite the same satisfaction again). As if that weren’t enough, the entrée option is also heaped with chunks of either a ¼, a ½ or a full pound of fresh lobster. The mac and cheese is also the base for Canoe’s meatloaf main course, making for possibly the most filling option on the menu.

Alyssa Brewer: The Best Thing I Ever Ate

Lobster mac and cheese. Photo courtesy of Canoe Tavern and Restaurant

Finally, Canoe’s mac and cheese passes the last crucial test for a restaurant with generous portions – good leftovers. This pasta dish’s leftovers are equally delicious reheated for lunch the next day – or breakfast, if you just can’t wait. I don’t judge.