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Macon Bistro & Larder, French-Inspired American in Chevy Chase Arcade - Chef Tyler Stout Replaces Ryan Hackney

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Happened to be walking by this weekend and saw that Macon is open in the Chevy Chase Arcade building on Connecticut Ave.  We had already picked up bagels with the kids so I couldn't do much but pop my head in, but I'll probably get over there for a brunch soon. I can't wait to try the biscuits and bacon gravy with poached eggs and maybe the "spiced watermelon bowl"....

Has anyone been yet? When did it open?

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This is either trying to be seriously Burgundian, or seriously redneck.

I think it's trying to do both.  Southern biscuits, fried green tomatoes, brisket, etc. on the one hand, an all-French wine list, steak frites, foie gras terrine, duck a l'orange etc. on the other hand.  I wandered in to Macon Bistro tonight not having had any idea this place even existed, and made a quick dinner at the bar out of deviled eggs, chicken liver on toast, a roasted beet salad, and a Devil's Backbone Vienna Lager.  It's a very nice, bright, welcoming, space, with a friendly staff and beautiful marble bar.  The deviled eggs and chicken liver were really enjoyable.  I appreciated how both incorporated some crunch and acid for balance in the form of finely-chopped pickles.  The salad was ok, too many individual elements that didn't seem to work all that well together -- beets, goat cheese, kale, grapefruit, pigs ear.  But overall this was a really enjoyable meal and I'm glad I stumbled across this place.

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This is either trying to be seriously Burgundian, or seriously redneck.

I think it's trying to do both.  Southern biscuits, fried green tomatoes, brisket, etc. on the one hand, an all-French wine list, steak frites, foie gras terrine, duck a l'orange etc. on the other hand. 

According to a waitress we overheard, Rhone1998 is correct, though I think they'd say "Southern" rather than "redneck".  The name references both Macon in Georgia and Mácon in Burgundy.  We've been twice (to the restaurant, that is).  Space is pretty and bright but tables are tightly packed together.  Staff is pleasant and accommodating.  Everything we've tried has been well-prepared, though the only thing I can really rave about is the hush puppies (which are on the bar snacks list, not the regular menu).  The biscuits and fried chicken (the latter now off the menu) are perfectly respectable.  Root vegetable gratin seemed somehow light instead of overwhelmingly earthy and dense, and yet satisfying.

Most of the dishes are one or the other (Southern or French) rather than trying to be both, but one exception is the ribeye tartare, which is accompanied by small dollops of tomato jam.  That sweet-tart combo is an excellent foil for the onion and caper flavors in the meat itself.

I haven't studied the wine or beer lists but the people at the next table were making detailed inquiries, and both staff members who came by to help them were able to answer all questions readily and in great depth, which is a good sign. (As I said, the tables are packed in tight; it's impossible not to overhear such things.)

Dessert ranges from profiteroles to lemon chess pie; the former looked pretty standard (didn't try it, not my favorite incarnation of pastry), but the latter is outstanding.

It's nice to have a good restaurant in this part of town.

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The local chapter of my college alumni association is having an event at Macon Bistro on Monday. It includes a discussion with the chef (a Cornell alum) and tastings. The event is open to non-alums as well so I am providing a link: Cornell Club DC. Of course you could leave before the Cornell- centered stuff at the end, but I do not know why you would want to. Let's Go Red.

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The local chapter of my college alumni association is having an event at Macon Bistro on Monday. It includes a discussion with the chef (a Cornell alum) and tastings. The event is open to non-alums as well so I am providing a link: Cornell Club DC. Of course you could leave before the Cornell- centered stuff at the end, but I do not know why you would want to. Let's Go Red.

Go Big Red!

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Thumbs up on Macon.

Had a first dinner here this past week, meeting a friend who was also a first timer. Great neighborhood spot. Every neighborhood needs one. :-)

More specifically:

VENUE

Macon occupies a small space with a somewhat open kitchen and nice bar separating kitchen from the small curbside dining room, Noisy and a bit raucous. We had no trouble talking but I'd guess TS may not have loved the noise level, Tables are packed fairly close together but didn't bother us. All fairly reminiscent of many Parisian bistros in being warm and inviting. All of which seems the point as the menu takes its inspiration from both French and southern cuisine.

SERVICE

Attentive, engaging and hospitable. Similar to what I'll call the "New Wave" youthful, enthusiastic, casual yet professional service model like Rose's and Red Hen.

THE GRUB

We started with one of several "snacks," three half deviled eggs. Very tasty and at $5 or $6, priced consistently with other places. Think my current favorite version is the one topped with trout at Mockingbird Hill but these were good. They have a nice, all-French wine list and we each ordered glasses of something I've forgotten but enjoyed.

We also shared an order of the "Essie's" biscuits. While maybe not the equal of the new biscuit company guys at Union Market, these were good (I.e., warm, fluffy, rich) and served with quality butter and a piquant pepper jelly.

My dining companion got what I thought was a special tuna tartare but, on second thought, it may have been the regular ribeye tartare on the menu. Whatever it was, it had some heat, looked good and my friend loved it.

The oyster stew, my starter, was a lighter version with a good balance of oysters with chopped potato and some aromatics. I'd get this again.

My dining companion ordered a filet of rockfish special our waitress had promoted but, after ordering, she told us they'd sold out. But, evidently they still had the collar of a whole fish the chef was keeping and offered us that. My friend enjoyed it and it looked very nicely grilled and complemented with some veggies and maybe farro?

I went with the bouillabaisse. Saffron tomato broth and generous portions of clams, mussels and fish. Didn't love the toast points as they were too thick and heavy but a very nice dish.

BOTTOM LINE & VALUE

Macon isn't cheap by any means. Both our mains were $30 though most other options are low to mid 20s. Nice wine, drinks and beer options. Friendly and proficient service. Comfort food with some sophistication. Fairly priced to market given what they offer. Not especially family friendly but Blue 44 across the street is good for that.

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Can we second that description of the service - "new wave" - casual, but professional. Having a hard time identifying it, but it's exactly as above. The service is DC is getting really good, but they wear jeans and t-shirts. It wrinkles my brain, but I like it.

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In Todd Kliman's chat today, he mentions that Chef Daniel Singhofen (formerly from Eola) has now become Executive Chef at Macon.

This is really interesting in thinking if and how Eola-type cooking may merge with the French/Southern for which Macon has become known. I really enjoyed a recent visit there but thought it a notch below some similarly positioned and priced spots elsewhere in the city. That said, Macon is hands down the best restaurant in a cluster of generally mediocre (or worse) spots in that Chevy Chase (DC) Conn Ave strip. With Chef Singhofen now there, Macon maybe elevates from a fine neighborhood restaurant to a bona fide destination eatery.

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Given that Macon Bistro & Larder's website lists Tony Brown as "Executive Chef & Proprietor," what does this mean?

Jenna Pool is apparently going to be the Chef de Cuisine, who runs the kitchen.

So what will Dan Singhofen's Executive Chef's function be? It was implied that Tony Brown may be stepping back to spend some time with his daughters which is perfectly understandable, but it still seems like there's an extra position according to traditional definitions of the terms.

Are there expansion plans?

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Given that Macon Bistro & Larder's website lists Tony Brown as "Executive Chef & Proprietor," what does this mean?Jenna Pool is apparently going to be the Chef de Cuisine, who runs the kitchen.So what will Dan Singhofen's Executive Chef's function be? It was implied that Tony Brown may be stepping back to spend some time with his daughters which is perfectly understandable, but it still seems like there's an extra position according to traditional definitions of the terms.Are there expansion plans?

Good questions all. And, I hope it isn't about expansion given they haven't yet even been open a year. That'd be a bit head spinning even with the generally high open rate around town. More to the story here to be sure.

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In Todd Kliman's chat today, he mentions that Chef Daniel Singhofen (formerly from Eola) has now become Executive Chef at Macon.

Well this is great news! I am so glad to see him stay local and find a new gig that lets him maintain some kind of remotely sane work life balance too.

And please serve up some 'parts'. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease!

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Given that Macon Bistro & Larder's website lists Tony Brown as "Executive Chef & Proprietor," what does this mean?

Jenna Pool is apparently going to be the Chef de Cuisine, who runs the kitchen.

So what will Dan Singhofen's Executive Chef's function be? It was implied that Tony Brown may be stepping back to spend some time with his daughters which is perfectly understandable, but it still seems like there's an extra position according to traditional definitions of the terms.

Are there expansion plans?

Too many cooks spoil the broth, I hear...though Roses' managed with a Chef/Owner a CDC and an Exec Sous. But not everyone is Roses.

Seems like a whole lot of labor $$$ from my perspective, but I would have to know a bit more to really understand what's going on.

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Too many cooks spoil the broth, I hear...though Roses' managed with a Chef/Owner a CDC and an Exec Sous. But not everyone is Roses.

Seems like a whole lot of labor $$$ from my perspective, but I would have to know a bit more to really understand what's going on.

There was a lot of messaging about work-life balance, and family, so maybe there are more people, but not all of them drawing a full-time salary?

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Hi All,

Allow me to shed some light on the subject. Tony is no longer the exec chef, he has given me that title and responsibility.(website will be updated soon) Prior to my arrival there was a CDC and two sous chefs in place. Moving forward the fantastic and talented Jenna Pool will become the new CDC starting in early March. We will continue to carry one full sous chef and have brought on a jr. sous to develop. My role is to run the all aspects of the kitchen. I will lean heavily on Jenna to focus a great deal of energy into services on a daily basis. Having Jenna is important to me because it will free me to develop new dishes, while also spending more time at home with my little one. (11 months on March 2nd) The reference to work life balance was to my own life, not Tony's, though it applies to us both. Jenna is someone who knows and understands my systems and will hold the team to my standards. We will function as an extremely close knit team, again, as we have in the past. We want to grow Macon into something very special, yes a neighborhood restaurant but also much more and we're working on putting the team in place to do so. Don, with Jenna in place I doubt you'll ever have to use that, "if chef's in the kitchen and not a sous chef." <==== That is why convincing Jenna to come back was important to me. I want ever service to be as close to perfection as possible, but not at the cost of missing my little girl grow up and I have no doubt with Jenna and the team we'll get together we'll be able to do this.

To the fans of the odd bits, we all know they have a place in my kitchen. I have a strong sense of obligation to do justice to the animals and vegetables we consume. Perhaps Eola pushed this to a fault. (My fault) Macon is a neighborhood restaurant, it's about community and family, so there will be a delicate balance with, shall we say, challenging dishes and approachable dishes. I want all to feel welcome and I want everyone to be able to enjoy the menu. So... if it's bits you're interested in the best bet maybe to call the restaurant and ask if we'll be offering anything off the menu, wink-wink. Also, please just ask your server if we have anything interesting off menu. My promise to y'all is that if I have it you'll be able to get it, I just might not print it. It will be our unspoken word of offal and off cuts. Two quick examples, darkstar965's rockfish collar was my butchering and tonight if you're really nice you can get crispy pig ears at the bar.

Please folks feel free to PM me with any questions, I'll respond.(it might take a little time but I'll do it) I'm looking forward to starting a new journey and being able to feed this community again.

This sounds really great. I love the twin foci on such a high quality bar and upon the people who make that possible. That's a great recipe for human and business endurance.

Chef, one question you'll hopefully see here rather than PM since guessing others will be interested. Do you anticipate a shift away from the French/Southern menu or more working on new dishes within that frame? Or TBD?

Thanks and really looking forward to our next visit!

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This sounds really great. I love the twin foci on such a high quality bar and upon the people who make that possible. That's a great recipe for human and business endurance.

Chef, one question you'll hopefully see here rather than PM since guessing others will be interested. Do you anticipate a shift away from the French/Southern menu or more working on new dishes within that frame? Or TBD?

Thanks and really looking forward to our next visit!

I'd like to think I'm refocusing the menu in what the restaurant's vision is. As of the 14th I've change 95% of the savory items on the main menu. I think a current menu is online. That being said this is my opening and safe menu, many dishes I've done in the past and knew and understood that I could make the functional with the space and  short time with the staff. The term we're coining is, "elevated southern cuisine rooted in classical technique." What does that mean? Expect cuisine with heart, soul and love, executed well. I think if you really look at what I've done in the past you will see a shit ton of both Southern and French influence. In many ways I'd like to think of Bras meets Grandma but maybe that's just a weird dream I had. ;) We're going trough some growing pains, as to be expected but as we progress you'll see an approachable main menu, a fun snack menu and an truly interesting bar menu to compliment what Evan is doing with the cocktail program. The main menu is almost completely different from your last visit and we'll keep plugging along at the other menus.

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To the fans of the odd bits, we all know they have a place in my kitchen. I have a strong sense of obligation to do justice to the animals and vegetables we consume. Perhaps Eola pushed this to a fault. (My fault) Macon is a neighborhood restaurant, it's about community and family, so there will be a delicate balance with, shall we say, challenging dishes and approachable dishes. I want all to feel welcome and I want everyone to be able to enjoy the menu. So... if it's bits you're interested in the best bet maybe to call the restaurant and ask if we'll be offering anything off the menu, wink-wink. Also, please just ask your server if we have anything interesting off menu. My promise to y'all is that if I have it you'll be able to get it, I just might not print it. It will be our unspoken word of offal and off cuts. Two quick examples, darkstar965's rockfish collar was my butchering and tonight if you're really nice you can get crispy pig ears at the bar.

Please folks feel free to PM me with any questions, I'll respond.(it might take a little time but I'll do it) I'm looking forward to starting a new journey and being able to feed this community again.

YES! :)

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Wow- that response from a chef makes me happy to live in a place that's possible. You are respectful to those around you, but have an understanding about what people may or may not like. That's what makes people love restaurants. This place was not on my list, until I read that, and now that I did, I am dying to come. I'll be nice to everyone - give me the good non-beef stuff- I promise I'll come!

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I agree, I'm not a big fan of beef either but really like those bits and pieces things (I just wish you were closer).

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OK so this was my first time here. But I had to go because of Dan Singhofen! WAHOO!

Getting There
For some reason, my brain did not connect to realize how close to my office this is. This is great. Only not is it is not very close to a Metro stop. My wife trekked to Friendship Heights and I circled until she got to street level. From there it is a very short ride over.  Parking is annoying on Connecticut, so you head to the residential side streets. There, however, it is zone permit parking for as long as you want, but limited to 2 hours without a permit (until 8:30PM anyway). So, risk the ticket (like we did) or get there 6:30pm or later.

The Space

They appear to have outdoor seating in front (when it gets nice out I assume). You enter a door to the building, walk down a hall and kind of have to guess the right spot on the long glass wall to look for a door and pop in. The space inside is nice. Kind of small, but not too small. Nice bar with plenty of seating. An interesting tree graphic on one wall and oddly interesting wall paper on a few more. Tables and chairs are good. We got seated at the front window and enjoyed the people watching. It does get a bit tricky walking between the tables as it fills up though.

The Service

Good, friendly and knowledgeable service. Got to chat with the GM, Gene Alexeyev, too. They plan on expanding the wine list a bit, which is cool. We ordered off the list, but asked about corkage and they have a good policy -- two bottle limit and $20 a bottle. Plus the corkage is free if you buy a bottle off their list as well. Must make a mental note to see if they would host the DC Crí¼ for a dinner with corkage on the cheap.

And Now.....The Food

Drinks

The BCP is the exact drink you want when dining al fresco. It is in balance and delicious and not too boozy, which is good, because you will want to drink oceans of this.  I had the Battle at Macon, which may have been good, but I think I got a heavy pour on the rye possibly, so the drink was a bit out of balance. Still, I did not dislike it even as such.

Biscuits

Delicious biscuits with honey butter and pepper jelly. The combination of both accoutrements on the biscuits was kind of revelatory. I am ashamed to admit it, but I never had pepper jelly before last night. This was great! Not spicy hot, just.......peppery!

post-384-0-02472800-1426876737_thumb.jpg

Fried Oysters

These were smaller, but well handled and fried. Really good. The excellent accompanying remoulade for dipping was gilding the lily.

post-384-0-82770100-1426876735_thumb.jpg

Duck Confit Hash

Probably a bit too big to really call a starter (well, please remember I also was the guy who could not resist the biscuits and oysters!), but man was this good. A great dice on the potatoes and kudos to browning them well without charring them. No mean feat! And the duck egg on top was so good. I'd eat tables of this.

post-384-0-47264900-1426876734_thumb.jpg

Warm Spinach Salad

I forgot to get a picture of my wife's salad. A warm bacon-y spinach salad that was fresh and good. The only nit on this dish was that the croutons were so crisp and firm that you could not get a fork in to them at all!

Veal Breast

This was great. Unctious and rich. The greens and beans were tasty as well. The tiny octopus were nice to be there texturally, but I thought the sauce overwhelmed them. I am happy to say that their heads were included, which is always a treat in my book. The breast was amazing and full of flavor.

post-384-0-04633800-1426876733_thumb.jpg

Pork Saddle

The pork was wonderful and all falling apart. The vegetables that came with were just enough, delicious in their own right, and great when done in combined bites. Really good.

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Chocolate Pot de Creme

Finished with this (delicious) and some arguably good/bad decaf coffee. It was not pure smooth coffeeness like my wife enjoys, but with some bitterness, which I do not mind at all. Honestly it may just have steeped a smidge too long in the french press is all.

My only modest, extremely minor nit is that there were no truly 'parts' or offal on the menu at all. Darn! Maybe next time. He's only been there a month or so. The GM advised that he's going to be doing a lot of house curing, smoking, pickling etc, too, so there is that to look forward to!

I'll be back, like The Terminator. It is a great neighborhood spot. It's not far from my office, even if it does mean some gyrations with getting my wife there after work.  It is not cheap though, so be prepared. You can, however, control costs easily. Order not so many plates of stuff like we did, skip the cocktails and pay the corkage fee and you'll be down to an almost weekly dinner spot. And it is absolutely a great place to hit up weekly for a light dinner or nosh without going all out and spending a lot.

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Fried Oysters

These were smaller, but well handled and fried. Really good. The excellent accompanying remoulade for dipping was gilding the lily.

attachicon.gifMacon Fried Oysters.jpg

Nice report! Those fried oysters look awesome...

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Went again to kick off the extended holiday weekend. Another enjoyable time there with good drink and good food and service.

They started us with an amuse of fresh radish and salted butter (the butter was amazing).

Had to repeat the biscuits - so good. More butter and that pepper jelly is so subtle and unexpected. Delicious.

While I was sorely tempted at having a special appetizer involving goat liver, when I realized they had potted meat of more than one variety, and one of them was head cheese, I could not resist it. It was perhaps a bit of a bad idea to do this, as we already had biscuits, and this appetizer came with several large slices of grilled bread, mustard and cornichons (and a healthy amount of potted meat) - we were already taking on too much. But the kiss of the grill on the bread was amazing, and the meat itself was great. Similar in spreadability to liverwurst, but not so rich and creamy, and just more MEATY. Really nice if you love this kind of stuff, and I do I do I do.

My wife opted for the wedge salad, which was refreshing and delicious. I went for the chilled pea soup, which was great. The bacon bits in it were extraordinarily flavorful. Both were very good.

My wife went for the poussin - over wilted mustard greens (not bitter at all - easily handled and managed by the bacon broth) - it was a small bird, more of a cornish game hen size. Delicious. I almost went for the monkfish special (and on some level wished I had, when I saw diners nearby getting it - smelled and looked wonderful), but I heard it was burger night. I went for the Macon burger which involved a (perfectly medium rare cooked) beef patty, house made pimento cheese, an egg, and sat on a bed of collards all on a house made bun. It was a only somewhat sloppy, but glorious mess of a burger. I rarely order burgers out, because it is so easy to make a really good one at home, but I am glad I went for it here. It was delicious and opened my eyes to varying ways to treat the humble burger at home. My only regret is that this was taking me close to my limit (damn the super fine, super crisp well salted roasted potatoes that came with the burger!).

We did end up ordering a single dessert, the Swiss Roll, which was quite, quite good - needs a bit more of the tiny spread of candied kumquat IMHO, but it was something I would order again.

We had very good service all around....perhaps almost too good. Let me explain. Our server came by too often to check and make sure things were ok. Next, the pacing of the food was way too fast to start. We indicated we wanted cocktails, and placed that order. A few minutes later, we were ready to order and practically no sooner had we ordered the biscuits and the potted meat, both things showed up! Before our cocktails even. Then, with only half of the biscuits and potted meat snacks dealt with, our appetizers arrived. We'd indicated somewhere in the middle of this to get the wine we ordered opened and that came all during this time as well.

So, as you can imagine, the table was getting cluttered, we were feeling a bit rushed and I think the serving team did ultimately realize the traffic jam of stuff going on at our table. They offered to pack up the rest of the snacks for us to take home (potted meat!!!), and that helped out a lot.  The wine service was good, especially considering that  the wine we selected was a massive brick and they knew it and decanted it for us. Only issue in the wine service, and this was because of the jam of plates on the table, they did not leave the decanter on the table (I did not indicate the desire to have this happen, but again, too much was going on at the same time). 

While being rushed is not my favorite thing when dining out, I think after the flood of things to start the meal got sorted, the pacing later got better. So I am not sure if this was a kitchen issue, a service issue or a mixup in communication between the two. The place was humming, but not jam packed, FWIW. It should be noted that the service itself was very friendly, personable and available.

Still recommended, still delicious and will still gladly come back and dine here. Might mention when we get seated next time that we're not in a rush. :)

PS: The cocktails - the Bouton was really delicious. The Bon Vivant was tasty enough, but I think veered a little too close to the taste of pixie sticks.

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