by Mary Beth Ray
ANC 3F03 commissioner and chair of the Van Ness Vision Committee
Macon, Georgia meets Macon, France at the newest restaurant in Chevy Chase, DC. And it had me hollering, “Merci!”
Prepare your palette for a fabulous combination: Southern-style cooking in a French bistro atmosphere, with a friendly and efficient wait staff. It’s casual, it’s warm, it’s delicious, what’s not to like? Your neighbors love it as much as you do, so your only complaint is having to book a table ahead of time!
My husband and I set out to celebrate our anniversary, and after two previously unsuccessful attempts to book at table at Macon Bistro & Larder, we got in one Wednesday night in May, just 10 days after its opening. From the moment we walked in, we were greeted like old friends, and welcomed to the table with complimentary champagne.
The menu offerings are decidedly more southern, which suited our Louisiana palates just fine. Our fried green tomato starter was topped with pork belly. It was divine. Juicy tomatoes, crispy exterior, in a light and tasty batter. The pork belly was just salty enough to balance the tomatoes, which made it feel slightly sinful.
We were both tempted to order two more sides of fried green tomatoes and call it a night! But it was, after all, our anniversary, so Sheldon opted for the rainbow trout with pecans, and I got the scallops with, ahem, more bacon. I am a fish snob, but the trout did not disappoint. It was fresh, moist, and flaky. The pecan crust had just the right crispy contrast to the fish, and the bed of lentils with a little vinegar/pepper sauce added a graceful kick. The scallops were sublime, cooked to perfection on a butterbean mash. Not much can go wrong with butterbeans in my humble opinion, but who would have thought to mash them and serve them with scallops? It was a clever and delicious pairing.
And speaking of a good marriage, ours may last a few more years because I shared some of my blackberry cobbler with my husband. Sadly, he only got three bites. After you try this dessert you will sympathize. The cobbler is served hot in a Mason jar with homemade whipped cream and a spoon. Next time we will each order our own, and I suggest you do the same. The wine list felt a bit limited, but the cocktail and beer list seemed more creative. We ordered a bottle of the Valmer Chenin Blanc Vouvray, which went well with the seafood, but was a bit sweet for my taste. I think we’ll try the Domaine Jean Touzon Chardonnay next time. Or maybe we’ll go wild and try the Optimal Wit beer (Port City Brewing, Virginia) or the Hopzilla (Terrapin Brewing, Georgia).
Every table at Macon was booked, and the bar was full as well. There is a “je ne sais quoi” buzz about the place that made it feel chic and fun. It’s loud, but not obnoxiously so, and I understand they are adding more acoustic tiles. The service is exceptional. We were checked on regularly with good cheer, and efficiency. Matt, the manager, has a calm, friendly assurance that speaks to his experience – he previously managed Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown. The wait staff apparently trained for two weeks rather than the standard five days, and it shows.
Macon has a wonderful community feel. This is exactly the kind of place we need in Van Ness. Restaurateurs, please take note! We ran into three sets of neighbors, and Washington pundit Chris Matthews. Ladies, wear your lipstick because you’re going to see someone you know!
Details: Macon is in the Chevy Chase Arcade (5520 Connecticut Avenue at Morrison), and they are open daily (except Mondays) from 4 p.m. They do not serve lunch, but in late June they hope to offer brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Prices are reasonable. We had an appetizer, two dinners, a dessert, and a bottle of wine for under $120, excluding tip.