Chef Tyler Stout’s menu includes (from left) deviled eggs, fried okra and roasted maitake mushrooms. Photo by Stacy Zarin-Goldberg
If you haven’t been to Macon Bistro & Larder lately, chef Tyler Stout, who took over as chef there in November 2016, is a mighty good reason to rectify that situation. Tony Brown, a Chevy Chase resident and former chef (and federal contractor), opened the Upper Northwest D.C. restaurant in May 2014, naming it after his hometown of Macon, Georgia, and a city in France that has the same name. Situated in the Chevy Chase Arcade, Macon Bistro is a symbiosis of French and Southern American style and everything a neighborhood eatery should be: charming, tasty, reasonably priced and hospitality-oriented.
The space, which seats 60 inside and 40 outside, is light-filled and inviting (another 30 seats are in the Magnolia Room, a separate space added down the hall in the arcade in April 2016). Family photos from Brown’s childhood grace the wall. Light bulbs spell out “Macon” marquee-style behind the bar. Green leather upholstered bistro chairs, hardwood floors and a long gray-and-white marble bar accent the cozy room. An open kitchen, tucked in the back, is where you find Stout, a L’Academie de Cuisine grad whose résumé includes stints at Bethesda’s Chef Tony’s Fresh Seafood Restaurant, Newton’s Table and Barrel + Crow. He is the fourth chef here—let’s hope he stays a long time, because he is tremendously talented. Care and attention come through in every dish.
From the warm greeting on arrival to the buttery salted caramels offered with the check, a meal at Macon Bistro in early June shines. Our server, who mentions she is a recent hire, knows the menu inside and out, a testament to good training.
We start with snacks—fried okra with a zesty rémoulade sauce, and creamy deviled eggs topped with ground bacon and sweet pickle relish—to accompany gin cocktails. The Night Flights (vodka, gin, aromatized wine, crème de violette and gentian, a violet-flavored aperitif) is a smooth ride.
Toasted breadcrumbs and celery leaves top lobster and grits. Photo by Stacy Zarin-Goldberg
For a first course, a moss-colored mixture of breadcrumbs, parsley and preserved lemon dusts roasted maitake mushroom clumps to make them resemble broccoli florets, all enhanced by a lush Gruyère cheese sauce dotted with droplets of tarragon oil. It’s an elegant dish. Lobster and grits get the royal treatment with a sophisticated, lobster bisque-like sauce, creamed leeks, a sprinkle of buttery toasted breadcrumbs, and celery leaves.
For a second course, my companion and I share sublime homemade pappardelle pasta nesting in a ragù of Iberico pork shoulder made with an intensely flavored stock reduction (instead of tomato sauce) and adorned with grated Parmesan cheese.
Main courses include seared halibut with a ragout of ham hock meat and gigante beans (like large white lima beans), topped with cornbread croutons; and Amish chicken breast with a velvety mushroom sauce laced with foie gras. Tender coconut cake with sesame ice cream, and angel food cake garnished with strawberry ice, fresh strawberries, julienne basil leaves and whipped cream are a splendid ending to an already outstanding meal.
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