Back in the spring when I attended Taste of the Nation, one of the participating restaurants intrigued me when I met General Manager AJ and spent some serious time talking about her almost 1 year old MACON BISTRO & LARDER (www.maconbistro.com) located in Chevy Chase just inside the DC line at 5520 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20015. Well, six of us finally made it there last night and what a treat we encountered. The place is simple and cozy with exposed ceilings and wonderful old B&W photos on the wall of the owner, Tony Brown's, family. There is also a gorgeous huge painting of a monstrous magnolia tree that hung right over our table. There is inside and outside seating as well as a small open corridor that is protected but open to the outside. The service here is super friendly, and we loved Nataliya who hailed from Crimea; it seems Eastern European servers are crossing the Atlantic more and more (that sounds like something the Donald might take up:-)). Owner, Tony Brown, was constantly making rounds at the tables to see if all was in order and indeed it was.
One of us was running late, so we ordered up some Essie's Biscuits which were divine rich treats with honey butter and a superb and not too spicy, but yummy Pepper Jelly; we had to place another order.
Water here is house filtered and comes sparkling or still; another important point these days when a bottle can cost upwards of $5 at some places!
Small shooter glasses of "fennelade" arrived which Nataliya explained were fennel juice, agave and ginger. It had a licorice flavor, which you all know I can't abide, but I have to admit, it was tasty and refreshing and the thimble size was quite palatable for me.
The boys ordered sodas (cutely served in mason jars with straws) and here they are "Q" Cola and Orange which they said were just not as sweet as regular sodas; so much for organic. We ordered a bottle of Ferraton Pere et Fils "La Martiniere" 2011 Marsanne from Crozes Hermitage which we used to drink all time after meeting the winemaker himself in his home some 15 years ago when in the Rhone. It's a super white that goes so well with everything, and boy did we order everything. The wall blackboard has a list of "SNACKS" and it was hard to resist, so we went that way rather than with starters:
CORN FRITTERS were hushpuppy like and superb with a wonderful pesto dip that was a change from remoulade and not as rich either.
DEVILED EGGS were gorgeous and had a yummy crunch from crispy bacon bits and some pimento on top of the decadent mayo rich oeufs.
FRIED OYSTERS were cooked perfectly and crispy battered on the outside with another tasty dip that had a mild kick (I never did ask what it was).
We were intrigued by two starters and chose one (we did not have the appealing Southern Ramen which was vermicelli made from zucchini with green chili fumet, fried egg yolk and lime.
We did order the Summer Ratatouille which was quite large and rich (as a starter, but an awesome side) with summer veggies, herbed tomato broth, coddled duck egg and sourdough crumb.
Indeed the side dishes here are most appealing and we also ordered the tasty Colalrd Greens with Bacon, garlic and White Wine. Next time I must try the Spicy Kale with Crispy Grits, Shallots, garlic & Chilies.
I was intrigued by a red wine on the menu and jotted the name down and then asked AJ for her input. She actually must have been reading my mind as she came over with a bottle of that same wine declaring it was perfect with all the dishes but especially the goat. The Xavier Weisskopf 2012 Cabernet Franc "Le Rocher des Violettes" from Touraine was a tasty wine so well balanced yet with a hint of spice, fruit and a superb finish.
Speaking of the Country FRIED GOAT, which we had three orders of, it was a superb tasty dish with Duck Fat Dumplings (Samuel wanted more), natural broth that I could not get enough of, stewed vegetables and chili oil. The Amish Chicken Breast came with yummy Black Eyed Peas, Country Ham Broth (I am adoring these broths with the food), & Bright Light Chard. The other dish I split was the Braised Pork Shoulder with Charred Onion, BBQ Vinaigrette, Cheddar Grits and Broccoli Rabe which was offered up a tasty sauce (no broth) that really was amazing and also paired divinely with the Cab Franc.
There is a $35 prix fixe from 5-630pm of 3 courses which includes the fish of chicken breast and is another great deal here, along with specials like Shrimp & Grits on Tuesdays and Burgers on Thursdays.
Chef Dan Singhofen and his team do an amazing job along with Pastry Chef Jamella Hassan (remember those biscuits).
Well, we were full but had seen the desserts when we arrived and knew we could not resist. The Almond Custard with Cherry Compote and Almond Crunch was okay (the crunch got raves), but the portion was in a very teeny jar. This was the only dud all night as the Pineapple Coconut Cake with Pineapple Bavarian & Pineapple Rum Sauce was a light fluffy delight, truly as light as air and oh so tasty. My White Peach & Raspberry Cobbler was superb, but richer as it hinted back to those biscuits with its superb crust and was accompanied by a creamy Benne Ice Cream.
Salted Caramels were on the table as we departed and we left not only full, but feeling that we had indeed traveled to the deep south for a fine meal in MACON!