Restaurant review: G. Michael's Bistro

By Columbus Alive
From the Restaurant review: G. Michael's Bistro edition

Summer officially started just last week, but I'm already worried you're going to blow it. How? Well, by missing out on great here today, gone tomorrow delicacies.

That would be a shame, because eating fleetingly available seasonal treasures and I'm not even talking about vegetables not only thrills your taste buds, but it fills you with a seize-the-day-derived pleasure that makes life richer.

You want that, right? If not, stop reading. If yes, get yourself to G. Michael's and get yourself a plate of rare and incredible seafood.

With its warm-weather menu in place, G. Mike's has lightened up a bit. I'll eventually get to some wonderful items on that list (and how to get 'em at a discount), but first I want to point you to the recurring summertime specials that have gotten me so "Don't miss it!" excited: sublime and difficult to find white-fleshed salmon plus some of the best soft-shell crabs around.

Summer is prime soft-shell crab season, and I love those crazy-looking things. Unfortunately, they too often arrive uncrispy, cooked to mushy and so puny there's not much to sink your teeth into. Not here.

G. Mike's soft shells - which get a pleasingly ungreasy and delightfully crackly cornmeal jacketing - are generally thicker, providing pockets of sweet lovely meat. Lately I've had them in appetizer form ($12) detailed New Orleans style (with racy red rice and a rich remoulade sauce) and Asian-inflected (with a stir-fry-like slaw) - both were terrific.

We're also currently enjoying the short-lived wild Alaskan salmon season. If you've only had commonplace farmed Atlantic salmon, I urge you to seek out their more elegant Pacific cousins. I recently hit the lottery at G. Mike's by scoring infrequently encountered Alaskan King Salmon with pale, whitesh meat. Called ivory salmon, it was simply and beautifully grilled. This delicate, succulent and halibut-y fish - likely the mildest salmon you're liable to eat - came partnered with stuffing-like cremini mushroom fritters; a vivid, tomatoey and herby ratatouille; and a couple (possibly food-chain-riffing) shrimp. Order this stunner immediately if you spot it as a special.

If pristine and rarely seen seafood isn't your thing, try the lean and mean Marinated American Bison Flatiron Steak ($28). The tender, beefy meat had a sexy char on it and except for a couple gristly bites, was a delight. It arrived with a fruity, Worchestershire-perked sauce plus irresistibly crispy and oniony smoked gouda-enhanced hash browns.

If entrees don't beckon, G. Mike's excellent (and not-so-small) small plates have big flavors and can be had for just $6 until 7 p.m. Monday through Friday (two are plenty for dinner). Of course the awesome Shrimp and Grits is on the greatest hits list, but here are some new favorites.

Seared Jumbo Scallops This place is also famous for its great scallops, and this dynamic duo - crested with intense pickled rhubarb and plated with a warm apple and fennel salad - only enhances that reputation.

Pressed Veal Sweetbreads Wow. Imagine creamy and complex grilled sausage patties and cheesy hash browns (plus a colorful corn relish and smoky tomato sauce) for dinner.

Sweet Yellow Corn Johnnycakes Another play on breakfast-for-dinner, this was fluffy and savory pancakes layered with game-changing Pernod-sauced spinach, mild crawfish tails, peppers and an onion sauce.

Grilled Housemade Bratwurst Patty Happiness on a beautiful breakfast-style biscuit with killer kraut and mustard.