The location of The Back Burner Restaurant, tucked away off of Ingleside Avenue, mirrors its quiet -- almost secret -- reputation. Only true foodies seem to recognize it as one of the finest restaurants in our area.
The Back Burner has chosen to keep its permanent menu relatively short and let the daily specials play the lead role. The list of daily specials is, however, longer than the Great Wall of China. By the time our waitress is done describing them, she is all out of breath.
While it is nice to have an updated menu with fresh produce, the Back Burner does challenge their guests to memorize a good 10 different dishes. As no prices are given for the specials, money seems to be understood as no object for this clientele.
Of course, Back Burner’s French chef/owner offers escargot -- snails soaked in garlic butter -- and no dedicated Francophile will be disappointed with the Back Burner’s version of this classic French appetizer.
The jumbo lump crab cakes appetizer is very meaty and the chef has let the crab meat play the lead, supported by a creamy champagne sauce. The scallops with saffron sauce are three large scallops cooked to perfection, only slightly overshadowed by the sauce. The avocado and crab salad is a generous portion of crab meat and avocado drizzled with an Asian dressing, which is also a bit dominant for the delicate flavor of the crab.
Regarding entrees, the filet au poivre is an impeccable piece of meat in a nice black pepper crust. Its black pepper sauce is much more successful than the one that comes with the duck: the whole black peppercorns kill an otherwise nicely cooked duck breast.
The two fish entrees, a crab stuffed trout and a beautiful seared tuna, are both nice dishes but the tuna shares the same saffron sauce as the scallops, and the trout shares the champagne sauce of the crab cakes. It would be an unfortunate combination to order the crab cakes and the trout.
Perhaps this same “efficiency” has resulted in all of the entrees being served with identical sides. True gastronomes would expect a chef like the Back Burner’s to pair each entree with its own carefully selected sides.
The desserts daily prepared by the restaurant’s French hostess are without reproach. The chocolate torte will please the most severe cases of chocoholics and the 12-layer caramel cake is a slice of perfection with beautifully thin layers. The hazelnut chocolate cake is tiramisu with a twist and the cheesecake, made with three different types of cheese, is one of the best we’ve had.
Overall, a visit to the Back Burner is a very pleasant -- and expensive -- experience. The setting and service are personal and intimate. If you are looking for a high quality meal in Macon, the Back Burner is definitely a top candidate.
Back Burner Restaurant
Address: 2242 Ingleside Ave., Macon
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and 6-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
Payment: Cash, credit
Kids Menu: No
Noise Level: Low
Health Rating: 100
Price range: Expensive
Rating: 4 stars