Nestled in a hidden area off Ingleside Avenue, the Back Burner is not always the first place most people think of when they’re looking for a casually elegant meal, but it deserves to be high on the list of any gastronome.
The facade is deceptive, unremarkable. Once you enter, the low ceiling gives it a cozy feel, with muted walls, wooden floors and simple decor. There are two main dining rooms, with a tiny private dining room with one dining table for a small group, and a larger room for groups that would like to dine at separate tables but in the same room.
Our server Marnie was efficient and helpful, without too much fuss or effusiveness. She not only knew what was in each dish, she knew the chef’s inspiration for using many of his ingredients. She helped us select our appetizers of escargot de Bougogne for $10, and baked mini-brie, a special that evening. The medium-sized snails were al dente, served with buttery crostinis, tons of garlic and more butter. The brie, though, was unsurpassable, baked with apricot jam and pine nuts. I would probably choose this appetizer for the first course of my last meal.
Next, we tried the lobster bisque, at $9, which was fresh and delicious but almost too rich. Other starters to try next time include the spicy pan-seared calamari, the broiled oysters Rockefeller, and the house-smoked duck breast, all $10 and less.
The entrees we chose from the menu were the seafood trio almandine and the pork tenderloin baked in banana leaves. Both about $25, these dishes were generous and divine. The trio consisted of pan-seared rainbow trout, Georgia shrimp and a jumbo lump crab cake, served with fingerling potatoes and asparagus. Perhaps it was the richness of the crab cake and shrimp (not to mention the brie and escargot), but by the time I got to the trout I couldn’t eat any more. The pork tenderloin was viciously devoured, served with a Tennessee whiskey raspberry glaze, pesto mashed potatoes and the asparagus.
The special entrees we tried were the steak au poivre and the seafood paella. Both rightly deserve to be called specials and I hope they are offered when you come. The steak au poivre is perfection, kept simple with just crushed black pepper and Cognac. We dined with a friend who considers himself a paella connoisseur, and he found this one to be one of the finest he’s ever had. The saffroned rice is hidden in the iron skillet under the mound of mussels, scallops, clams and shrimp, all tender and juicy. Every bite is sublime.
Perhaps part of the Back Burner’s charm is that it is so unassuming that its near-flawlessness is a surprise. It’s wonderful to see that it will continue its tradition of excellence and quiet grace.
The Back Burner
Address: 2242 Ingleside Ave., Macon
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
Payment: Cash, credit
Kids Menu: No
Noise Level: Low
Health Rating: 100
Price range: $16-$32
Rating: 4 stars