Thursday, August 20, 2015

Macon Bistro & Larder Food Review

Corned Beef (on housemade caraway rye bread)

For years decades, Chevy Chase has failed to generate any sort of authentic culinary buzz. American City Diner? Fat chance. Blue 44? Better, but hardly what you'd refer to as "destination dining." Then along came Chevy Chase's own Tony Brown and Macon Bistro & Larder, home to Essie's Biscuits and all things tasty. Suddenly Chevy Chase was happening again (without having to visit the nearby Avalon.) Sounds like a good great time to visit.

Granted, I'm a year (and three months) behind; but better late than never, right? Needless to say, Macon Bistro has had plenty of time to grow into its own. The crowds have been there since day one, and they started serving lunch last month. Given the choice, I prefer lunch over dinner... especially when I get to share a table with the one and only Arch Campbell, entertainment guru and a fellow Chevy Chase resident.

Essie's Biscuits

Upon arrival, I couldn't help but notice Brown busy at work (watering plants around Macon's inviting sidewalk patio.) Behind every successful business, is a hard-working owner; and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why Macon Bistro & Larder is already at the top of the Chevy Chase food scene. It also doesn't hurt to reside in the majestic Chevy Chase Arcade, one of my favorite, underutilized (perhaps until now) retail spots in all of DC. For the record, there's a space available in the back... providing unrivaled "direct access" to those aforementioned biscuits and the rest of Executive Chef Dan Singhofen's exciting menu.

Corn Fritters with Basil Butter

It was too humid to eat outside (even along the fancy Arcade corridor) but a window seat facing the Avenue makes a pretty good consolation prize. The decor is rustic and inviting with great, lunch-appropriate music ("Delete" by the DMA's.) Seating is quite comfortable; and there's a lovely 20-seat bar and open kitchen in the center/towards the back. Noise levels were minimal; but I'm guessing brunch and dinner can get quite a bit noisier (one more reason to try lunch.) Service (Jamal) was outstanding and very attentive. Zero pretentiousness too... yet another Macon, Georgia touch.

Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

As for the meal itself, it began with those much-ballyhooed biscuits, which are indeed very tasty. Arch said they were the second best he's ever had (it's hard to trump a grandparent from Alabama) and who am I to argue with that fond a memory? You get four biscuits for just $7, served with honey butter and an incredible pepper jelly that's also available for sale at the larder. The biscuits are more crumbly than flaky; but once that jelly hits 'em... look out!

Sidewalk Patio

Next up, my favorite bite of the day... Corn Fritters, one of several $6 "snacks," including Fried Pickles (okra!) They come six to a plate (that's only a dollar a pop) with a scrumptious basil butter for dipping. They closer resemble hushpuppies, but are much softer (surprise!) with a fluffy interior that features actual pieces of diced corn. Almost 10 minutes in, and these amazing fritters still spewed steam once opened. De-licious.

Mains include a Macon Burger, Market Fish (bluefish) and a handful of sandwiches. I opted for Corned Beef (on housemade caraway rye bread, $14) served with kohlrabi (turnip cabbage) and a simply-dressed side salad. The kohlrabi looks and tastes like cole slaw, only better (and more grown-up.) The corned beef rivals DGS Delicatessen for best-in-city, although I must admit... I'd love to see a few housemade chips on the side, or at least a pickle for some added crunch. Regardless, it's an outstanding sandwich with or without chips.

Dessert after lunch comes dangerously close to overdoing it; but I was anxious to resample pastry chef Jameela Hassan's handiwork (she used to work at Fiola Mare.) There's only two choices: Almond Custard and Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake, both affordably priced at $8 each. I ordered the latter, a rich, creamy cheesecake covered in decadent chocolate and surrounded by bite-sized cookies and a hint of fresh thyme and mint syrup. Very tasty, although I longed for more syrup/thyme (function over looks.)

Before we knew it, it was a quarter to two (two hour lunches, what's become of me?) It's not easy leaving: Service was incredible, including multiple drink refills, frequent dinnerware/flatware changes and plenty of polite conversation. Macon Bistro & Larder is a true neighborhood gem that doubles as a destination stop for folks outside the area. Despite living in Cleveland Park, I've always thought of Chevy Chase as a second home of sorts. Now there's a serious reason to eat here as well. Perhaps I should come up with a new business idea, and grab that spot in the back of the Arcade? Ellie's biscuits every day: I like love the sound of that.