Friday, April 16, 2010

G Michael's Bistro (Columbus, OH)

Wanting to experience as many of Columbus' local eats as possible whenever I'm home, I knew I had to make G Michael's Bistro a destination at some point. With three of my best friends in tow, I know I was in for a spectacular laughter-filled evening featuring gustatory delights. And G Michael's certainly did not disappoint!

Located in the heart of German Village, the restaurant boasted the similar historic feel -- from the dining area to the bar area. Every server was professional and polite without being rude nor condescending.

In addition to the extensive menu of Southern cooking, three more daily specials were read to us. All three were rather inspiring sounding, but I knew I wasn't going to be easily swayed from ordering the sweetbreads for my appetizer, the pork trio for my main, and a dessert to polish off my dinner. A basket of sourdough with a rather heavy house-made, red pepper based butter was brought to our table following the placing of our orders. Good to munch on over conversations and the wait but highly forgettable following the presentations of the food.

I love sweetbreads and will usually order them whenever I see them listed. Truth be told, they can be a hit-or-miss but, I soon learned that G Michael's take on the sweetbreads easily made it an easy contender for Columbus' best. (The Refectory's was memorable, whereas L'Antibes' was passable.) Lightly fried to a golden crisp on the outside while keeping the texture of the sweetbreads firm and delicate on the outside, what amplified this outstanding starter was the bed of sweet wilted spinach, sauteed onions, and crispy bacon in a pool of mild peanut dressing. An interaction of flavors and components that I would have never dreamed of but truly a winning one!

Needless to say, expectations were raised a few notches following the appetizer. What followed was the Pork Trio -- an entree consisting of grilled pork tenderloin on collard greens, chicken fried pork loin on sour cream mashed potatoes with black pepper gravy, and braised pork belly on Granny Smith -- served on a rectangular plate. Once again, the meshing of tastes and ingredients proved to be excellent one here! Starting off with the pork belly was a given. Topped with a faint fruit reduction, I happily finished the pork belly sans Granny Smith, as it is my least favorite of the apple cultivars. Next was the chicken fried pork loin, which was intensely peppered but bursting with deliciousness (although a bit more crisp would have made it even better.) A nice, savory contrast to the sweet, crispy pork belly. Lastly, the pork tenderloin -- possibly saved as the third of the trio due to its pedestrian nature. The tenderloin itself was temperately spiced while preserving its juiciness, but paired with the barbecue sauce soaked collard greens, this preparation also blew me away.

At that point, I was highly anticipating the seasonal dessert menu. Having had far too much chocolates and all things chocolate-related during the holidays, I opted for the eye-catching Pumpkin Napoleon. Despite having been garnished with blueberries and blackberries, I found them absolutely unnecessary and could have done with the toasted and caramelized pecans on top of the luscious cake. While this dessert seemed more like a flattened pumpkin roll, it was still one of the best renditions I've had in recent memory.

In the end, I can honestly say that G Michael's far, far exceeded my expectations. If I had lived closer to the restaurant, I know I'd be stopping in whenever the hankering for Southern cooking (with a flair!) kicks in. But for now, I'll be looking forward to my next visit back and hoping that the pork cheeks and the fried chicken remain on the menu.

Rating: *****

G Michael's
595 S. 3rd St
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 464 - 0575

G. Michael's Bistro and Bar on Urbanspoon

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