A new high-end steak restaurant in downtown Macon has a familiar face in the kitchen.
Chef Michael Galloway is the executive chef for The Cotton Ranch, which opened a couple of weeks ago at 347 Cotton Ave. Galloway was the executive chef and a co-owner of the former Tic Toc Room, also in downtown Macon.
“Of course, the steaks are the best … The chef is phenomenal,” said Todd Miles, CEO of The Phoenix Group, which owns and operates the new restaurant.
Galloway’s cornbread, Miles noted, is the original cornbread of Tic Toc Room. Galloway uses the same recipe but he’s enhanced it by adding sweet potato.
“He’s got collard greens that are fabulous. He makes all of his desserts by scratch. He actually has a sweet potato dumpling that he makes. It’s a pasta dish, and it’s fabulous. I mean, everything he does has just been wonderful.”
For Galloway, who’s served as chef or sous-chef at other restaurants in between including the Pond Restaurant in Warner Robins and Natalia’s and the Marriott Macon City Center in Macon, returning to downtown Macon is a homecoming of sorts.
“Honestly, I feel like I’m coming home,” Galloway said. “I’m seeing a lot of people I met when I was at Tic Toc. I feel like I’ve taken my rightful spot again — just where I’m supposed to be.”
Galloway isn’t the only familiar face at The Cotton Ranch. He’s joined by his wife, Eve Wise.
“She’s the head bartender here,” Galloway said. “She runs the front of the house and I run the back of the house. She was also a huge part of Tic Toc.”
What’s for dinner?
Entrees include rack of lamb, bone-in ribeye, blackened New York strip, an 8-ounce filet, Wagyu pot roast and bourbon glazed salmon.
The Wagyu pot roast is described on the menu as Denver-cut slow cooked with potatoes in red wine sauce, herbs and vegetables, while the filet is topped with a mushroom red wine sauce and served with choice of baked or sweet potato and collard greens or the vegetable of the day.
“I want to take the food you’ve eaten all your life and I want to give you the best version that you’ve ever tasted in your life,” Galloway said.
Also on the menu are a steak sandwich and a Wagyu burger. The burger is locally-sourced Wagyu topped with fried green tomatoes, collard greens and pimento cheese on a cornbread bun and served with home fries, according to the menu.
Pasta dishes include sweet potato gnocchi, pork belly risotto and Southern chicken piccata. Salads offered are a grilled Caesar salad, a market salad and a spinach salad.
The sweet potato gnocchi is described on the menu as housemade sweet potato dumplings served with a roasted red bell pepper sauce and spinach topped with feta cheese.
Appetizers include fried green tomatoes, bourbon glazed bacon steak, pimento cheese collard greens dip and loaded potato skins.
The bourbon glazed bacon steak is seared, thick-cut pork belly cooked with a bourbon glaze on a bed of mixed greens, according to the menu.
Desserts include banana pudding, blackberry cobbler and sweet potato pie.
The restaurant features a full-service bar with specialty cocktails and offers a wine list.
“It’s a small venue, so we suggest reservations ahead of time,” Miles said.
In the works
The Cotton Ranch is the second establishment to open this year in downtown Macon under The Phoenix Group.
The first, the Brickhouse Pub & Grub, opened on Second Street in April in the former Macon Beer Co. location. The establishment serves food late and offers a variety of entertainment options.
Miles next plans to open The Rabbit’s Hole, a high-end Cajun-Louisiana style restaurant in the former Macon’s Dueling Piano Bar location Mulberry Street in downtown Macon.
The reimagined space is expected to open soon, said Miles, who originally opened the piano bar in December of 2018, sold it in March 2022 and then took it back over with plans to reopen as The Rabbit’s Hole.
Also in the works is Lucky Luciano, an envisioned high-end Italian restaurant that Miles had originally planned for 455 Poplar St. in the former Per Diem Market location. He still plans to bring that restaurant to downtown but he’s now looking for a different location.
Additionally, The Phoenix Group also expects to open Big Daddy Sweet Treats, a huge candy store and ice cream shop planned for 476 Third St. in the former Kinetix location in downtown Macon.
The Cotton Ranch is open from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The number is 478-216-5011.