Image: A balanced meal.
Last Updated: June 2023
Macon’s name is a geographic double-entendre, referring both to southern cooking (Macon, Ga.) and French (Macon, France). In some dishes one or the other will show up, the classic chunky stew of ratatouille being French, the shrimp and grits being southern. Other dishes will blend the two. Some form of pork belly appears in nearly every dish, whether as bacon, lardons or some other preparation. The original concept was, “to take the French as the foundation, and then to lay on top of that the Southern farm-to-table place that celebrates country elements of Southern cuisine.” The formula worked and stuck.
The biscuits are worth trying because they are substantial, not-too-buttery biscuits with the choice of honey butter or pepper jelly to spread. With that palate primer, you are in the right frame of mind to take on the menu. On our recent visit, the salmon fume is indeed a thick slice of salmon infused with smoke matching its name, served with crème fraiche. The afore-mentioned shrimp and grits, like the biscuits, is more balanced than you might expect. The Brussels Sprouts are less balanced, or balanced in a different way with nearly a 1:1 ration of greens and lardons. They are more indicative of the meat-heavy menu, though the blackened salmon (in lieu of the pan seared one listed online) was lighter and served with rice.
Chef/Owner Tony Brown was behind a burrito chain before selling his interest and switching careers. He got the itch to return to the restaurant world, which led to opening Macon. Early on they emphasized the talented young chefs they had, and it was indeed a parade of once and future notables. Opening chef de cuisine Matis came from Yardbird in Miami with previous stints at Cityzen and Citronelle, was succeeded by chefs like Ryan Hackney (who is now about to open Citizens & Culture in Silver Spring), Tyler Stout (who opened La Bise and now is at Little Pearl), and Daniel Singhofen of well-regarded Eola. Over time they cut back on that, settling on the menu approach as the selling point. Though it should be noted the in person menu was different from the online one, so seasonality and some creativity is still coming through.
It retains a decent bar program, which also has some notable alums. The wine list is pretty basic. It sits facing the street, but the entrance is down a small arcade walkway with other shops, which seems appropriate. A handful of tables are on the sidewalk. Reports are that it can get busy at peak times, but our last visit was just a few tables. As new and fancy places like Opal and Joy start to pop up in the area, Macon remains a solid choice for the neighborhood.
Other Guidance: Located at street level with no steps, but the bathroom is outside the restaurant and down the arcade hall. GF can do ok, but vegetarians have slim picking because of the bacon thing. It is a casual but nice neighborhood spot.
Washingtonian: Tyler Stout promoted at the end of 2016.