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Reservations Recommended

Restaurant Review ~ Macon Bistro / 5520 Connecticut Ave., NW

Southern Goodies for Southern Foodies. Perhaps DC restaurant goers remember the Dupont Circle Iola by chef Dan Singhofen. Though that is now closed, the Florida native with strong southern taste buds is now the executive chef at Macon Bistro & Larder on upper Connecticut, located in the historic Chevy Chase Arcade building. That 1925 structure houses, besides this restaurant, a jewelry store and a barbershop for old-time reminiscences. No wonder the whole setting feels so retro. And to get the scoop on Macon Bistro’s chef, check out the restaurant’s website.

Of course, you do not have to be a Southerner to enjoy each mouthful at Macon Bistro. Sure, the menu is predominately slanted towards the South, as in Essie’s biscuits with honey butter and pepper jelly and the sides of collard greens cooked with bacon and white wine, kale with crispy grits, and hoppin’ John with smoked pork, Carolina rice and Sea Island peas.

Dinnertime offers a larger menu, and unless you face seasonal changes, you might come across monkfish cheeks or butternut squash soup as starters. And for entrées, fried chicken with smashed potatoes (that old Southern fave) and collards; country-fried rabbit with duck-fat dumplings and roasted vegetables; and, among others, a grilled pork chop with roasted potatoes and apple purée.

Dinner is also a busy time to meet up with friends, though you can order an early pre-theater/prix-fixe meal before 6:30 — that should tip you off as to its busyness later on. So for a more peaceful meal, consider lunch. Recently, several ladies at various tables out on the patio and indoors too, joined for a gabfest.

And the lunch menu is tempered down to a quirky “killed” salad (warm bacon vinaigrette, hard-boiled eggs, and pickled onion) or apple turnip soup starters, leading into the main course. With fewer selections that include braised pork should sandwich with cheddar, cornmeal fried Chesapeake blue catfish (such a Southern dish), and corned beef with kohlrabi on rye, you won’t be stumped by what to order. Besides, if you are a burger maniac, you might want to tuck into the Macon burger, served with collard greens, fingerling potatoes, and a fried egg (missing for my order). It’s tender, juicy, and served on a house-made bun.

Lunchtime dessert selections are limited, but should the menu list the chocolate truffle cheesecake, make that your sweet conclusion. A marbled cake cut into triangles, each separated by chocolate wafers, the dessert is highlighted by a drizzle of mint syrup, a delish counter to chocolate.

Note that the staff is super-friendly, making this a welcoming setting. The wine and beer selections are also appealing as are the cocktail choices, such as “Macon Apple Brandy Cider!” and “ Won’t Come Home,” made with Kentucky bourbon. These are just starters… And as you are exiting, stop at the hostess desk to check out the house-made goodies, including cookies, pickles, and preserves.

Macon Bistro & Larder Hours / lunch, Tue.-Fri. 11:30am-2pm; dinner, Tue.-Thu. & Sun. 5-10pm, Fri. to 11pm , Sat, 5-11pm; brunch, Sun., 10am-2pm. 202-248-780; www.maconbistro.com.

Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer. She has authored books on Asian and Mexican cuisines published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Macmillan. Other credits include restaurant reviews and food articles for national and regional publications, as well as former editor of the Vegetarian Times and former food editor/writer for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Click here to visit her website.