Back in late March, we saw The Young One off at Cleveland International Airport so he could go visit the paterfamilias for Spring Break. We did a celebratory jig as his plane took off and began planning our drive down to Cincinnati to visit with the G Man for a couple of days before heading to a cabin in Hocking Hills.
“Let’s stop someplace in Columbus for dinner,” Beloved said as we got in the got in the car. I agreed, and before I knew it he had his laptop out and we were Googling “fine dining in Columbus.” We chose one, took off driving, and I called to make a reservation for about 7 p.m., when we expected to be there.
And the number was disconnected.
I called directory assistance, and they had no listing for the restaurant at all. Which is really a shame, because the menu listed online looked nothing short of stunning.
“Call that other place,” Beloved said.
“Awwww, I dunno – they serve Italian,” I replied (I think I’ve mentioned a time or two that I’m not all that crazy about Italian cuisine).
“Grab the laptop again, and look at the menu – maybe they do Northern Italian.” (Beloved knows the way around my Italian food prejudice is a well-prepared dish of osso bucco and some rich, creamy polenta.)
Well, I didn’t have to grab the laptop – I had my Blackberry handy, so I looked it up that way. (As an aside – I’m just full of ’em in this post – the Droid is MUCH better for surfin’ the net, IMHO.) What I saw amazed me – small plates of shrimp and grits, several delicious-looking fish dishes, and a “low country trio” that consisted of a grilled quail, a crab stuffed shrimp and a wild boar sausage.
“Hon, this is not Italian,” I said. “It looks…Southern.”
So we called and made a reservation, and boy – are we glad we did.
G. Michael’s Bistro is a small, casual-yet-upscale restaurant located on Third Street in Columbus’ historic German Village. It’s listed as an Italian restaurant, but aside from the perennial (and really good, as The Young One will attest to) lasagna on the menu there are no Italian dishes served here. Apparently, it was originally opened as an Italian place, but a mere couple of months later the head chef left. The restaurant changed hands after that, and one of the owners – David Tetzloff – become the executive chef. Chef Tetzloff is a native Ohioan, but earned his Culinary Arts degree from Johnson and Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina. Better yet, at least to Beloved, he worked in the kitchens of Slightly North of Broad, or SNOB as the locals affectionately refer to it, in that historic Southern city.
For the most part, the food at G. Michael’s is well-prepared and delicious (I ordered the grilled veal chop this last time, which, while tasty, was a bit on the tough side). I can definitely recommend the PEI mussels with chorizo as well as the honey-glazed scallops, both small plates, the grilled globe artichokes (the vegetarian offering on the menu that Beloved and I shared and scarfed down as an appetizer), the grilled filet “Oscar” and the duo of Ohio pork is, in my opinion, the best thing on the Spring menu that we’ve ordered so far. There are daily specials – Chef Tetzloff, PLEASE make the pork belly appetizer a regular on the menu! – and the small selection of desserts has, so far, been quite delicious.
One of the things that helps make the place so special, though, is Tim. We were seated in Tim’s section on our initial visit and he immediately became one of our favorite experiences with the place. He is funny, personable and extremely knowledgeable about the menu. He quickly sizes up his patrons and will become very familiar with you if he feels he can get away with it; by the end of our first visit, he was giving me big hugs and patting Beloved on the shoulder, but we noticed that he was much more formal (albeit still personable) with the group at the table next to us – who looked as if they would object to a “touchy-feely” waiter.
We’ve gotten to where we visit G. Michael’s every time we go to visit Jolly and the G Man now, and we always ask to be seated in Tim’s section. Indeed, we were very disappointed when, on our last visit, his section was full and we were assigned a different waiter. Not that this waiter was incompetent (I have a feeling an incompetent waiter wouldn’t last long in the place) or unfriendly, we just didn’t enjoy him as much. Nor was he quite as knowledgeable about the dishes served – he read the specials to us off of a list, something that Tim has never done, and didn’t seem to be as familiar with the preparations (again, Tim knows his stuff). He also was not as prepared to deal with my picky teenager – Tim can get him to eat.
One more thing, and this is something that has become pretty important to me – G. Michael’s Bistro uses as much local, seasonal food as they can. While a lot of the seafood like shrimp and scallops aren’t local, of course, the pork, poultry, beef, dairy and produce usually are; from what Tim tells us, Chef Tetzloff not only makes his own sausage, but butchers the pigs he sources locally in the kitchen himself – you gotta love that.
There is also, as you can see pictured above, a cozy, full-service bar that won Beloved’s devotion immediately: they carry not only several single malt scotches, but Hendrick’s gin as well. The prices aren’t what you’d call cheap – this isn’t TGIFriday’s, for heaven’s sake – but they aren’t prohibitively expensive, either, and it’s not the kind of place you need to get all dressed-up to go to – we’ve seen patrons in suits sitting at tables next to people wearing jeans.
So if you’re ever in Columbus and want a great meal in a nice atmosphere and have a little – not a lot – of extra cash, I highly recommend G. Michael’s Bistro.
And ask for Tim, but remember he’s off on Thursday and Sunday.
For more Travel Tip Thursday, hop on over to Pseudo’s place.