Surviving 10 years in the rough and ruthless restaurant business testifies to a talent for consistently pleasing palates. G. Michael's Bistro and Bar has done that by delivering lushly comforting food that reflects the taste and vision of its accomplished chef, David Tetzloff.
With its decade of well-earned success, G. Michael's is announcing a few shakeups. First of all Tetzloff and Jeff Benson (a Burgundy Room co-owner) have assumed full ownership of the restaurant by buying out the rest of its investors, including namesake (G.) Michael Reames.
Aiming for a fresh start, the German Village restaurant will also get a decor makeover, begin offering (a la Restaurant Week) prix-fixe Monday dinners, and has just released its spring menu.
Like most of its previous food lists, this springtime document brings creative takes on Italian and especially low-country-influenced dishes, and they generally have a tendency toward rich and sweet flourishes. While the fare might seem busy on the ingredient side, the food always pleases and the tastes stay focused.
A new Low Country Sampler appetizer plate ($8) is like a study in orange textures that groups together ostensibly disparate elements. So a quintet of grapefruity pickled shrimp (call them Carolina ceviche) mingles with a chunky homemade pimento-cheese spread and a smooth sweet potato brandade. Crunchy grill-marked bread is on hand to facilitate scooping.
The Seared Scallops small plate ($11) showcases the place's sure-handed way with seafood as two thick beauties are perched above a garlicky wild mushroom salad and enhanced by a tarragon cream sauce.
Two huge Rabbit Confit Eggrolls ($9) might well make bunny appealing to even unadventurous eaters, with their familiar golden-brown fried thick wrappers stuffed with a wealth of racy, chopped peppery meat, placed atop a mound of sauteed spinach and slathered with a thick, salty/sweet "soy-black-pepper gastrique."
Basil-scented Sweet Pea Vichyssoise ($5) was an elegant cold soup with bracing hot peppery notes and a lovely whiff of minty basil. That one will spring you right into summertime, too.
From the entrees, two pounded thin and prettily pan-fried Veal Paillards ($25) had a crispy exterior and a moist, lean and clean-tasting interior. They came with a stout sweet-pea risotto lavished with a dairy richness and effectively punctuated by chewy, salty little cubes of pancetta.
The excellent Arborio-Crusted Walleye ($25) was a couple of good-sized pieces of flaky-fleshed fish in crunchy golden brown shells made out of pan-fried standard risotto rice. Also on the plate were crispy potato cubes, a biggish bunch of garlicky broccolini and a fruity, sweet pesto made with almonds, parsley and lavender butter.
With dishes like those, I can only wish G. Michael's another great 10 years to come.