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GREAT Dinner at Michael in Winnetka!

GREAT Dinner at Michael in Winnetka!
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  • GREAT Dinner at Michael in Winnetka!

    Post #1 - December 14th, 2006, 5:40 pm
    Post #1 - December 14th, 2006, 5:40 pm Post #1 - December 14th, 2006, 5:40 pm
    Last night I had a SUPERB dinner at Michael in Winnetka. OUTSTANDING.

    First, I should qualify what I mean by these superlative terms. I've dined at many of the most highly regarded restaurants in the Chicago area and elsewhere. They are almost always GOOD, with tasty food and attentive service. For me, the difference between GOOD and GREAT is, at a great restaurant, every single dish, every single bite, is an absolute delight, so delicious that it makes you roll your eyes and swoon. There are very, very few places that I would consider GREAT. Based on my dinner last night, Michael was definitely among them. It is not an exaggeration to say that this was one of the very best dinners in my entire life.

    Two of us arrived first, and the other two in our party got slightly lost; the wait staff could not have been more gracious, notifying us when our guests had called to get directions. (The visibility of the restaurant from Green Bay Road is somewhat limited, since there is no sign and the entrance faces the parking lot, not the street.) The dining room has an atmosphere of casual, relaxed elegance, which carried through our entire meal. This made the entire experience that much more special! As noted in the Metromix listing, business casual attire was entirely appropriate (fewer than twenty percent of the men wore jackets and ties, although one would not feel out of place thus attired). Our waiter was joking with us when he brought one or two of the items. Michael himself came by all the tables and knew exactly what we had ordered. The entire atmosphere was one of celebration, but without any pretension or stuffiness.

    Again, the food was HEAVENLY! Every bite of every dish was simply divine. The descriptions on their menu sound good, but so do those at many restaurants; if you think of how good each dish could possibly be, if it were exceptional, that's how good everything was. Here's what we had last night:

    AMUSE BOUCHE:

    Mini cream puffs (pate a choux) filled with gruyere cheese

    APPETIZERS:

    A medallion of seared foie gras over foie gras and mushroom strudel

    A duo of warm crab gateau and orange dusted scallop with a sweet curry cream

    A rosette of house cured smoked salmon on a warm potato cake with whipped chive, citrus crème fraiche

    Truffled potato "cappuccino" (soup)

    ENTREES:

    Duo of grilled filets of salmon and wild escolar with morels in cream sauce

    Duo of braised short ribs and sauteed tenderloin of beef "Grand Mere" with potato gratin

    Duo of Moroccan braised leg and grilled rib chops with toasted Fregola di Sardinia (cous cous)

    Filet of Japanese black cod in a fine brioche and thyme crust with heirloom tomato "Béarnaise"

    Creamy mashed potatos for all

    DESSERTS:

    Duo of petit fallen chocolate soufflé "Les Deux Gros" and hot chocolate "Michael" with cookies (one each of biscotti, shortbread, and pfefferneuse)

    Apple upside down tart with caramel and nutmeg ice cream

    Classic vanilla bean crème brulee.

    Maple Mascarpone cheesecake with maple caramel and Linzer shortbread
    vanilla creme brulee

    When our waiter overheard that one member of our party was celebrating her birthday, he brought a plate of truffles with a birthday candle in one of them (without any prompting on our part).

    The dinner was also surprisingly reasonable in price, considering the quality of the food. Appetizers were $9-15, entrees were $26-29, and desserts were $8-9. With modest beverages, our total came to $70 per person including tax and tip.

    Michael
    Proprietor: Michael G. Lachowicz
    64 GREEN BAY RD.
    WINNETKA IL
    847-441-3100
    http://www.restaurantmichael.com

    Dinner
    Tuesday-Thursday - 5;30-10:30pm
    Friday-Saturday - 5:30-11:30pm
    Sunday - 4:30-9:00pm

    (also open for lunch three days a week during December)
  • Post #2 - December 14th, 2006, 6:18 pm
    Post #2 - December 14th, 2006, 6:18 pm Post #2 - December 14th, 2006, 6:18 pm
    Boy. I can hardly wait to try it. Thanks.
  • Post #3 - December 14th, 2006, 8:12 pm
    Post #3 - December 14th, 2006, 8:12 pm Post #3 - December 14th, 2006, 8:12 pm
    Not that I'm deliberately trying to temper your enthusiasm here--because I had a fine meal there earlier this year--but I'm sort of surprised that the menu has not changed at all since the spring, when I had the same foie gras and salmon/escolar dishes and my dining companion had the same scallop/short ribs dishes (and the same pot of pomme puree was rather oddly served to us). I'm not faulting these dishes--Michael can create a heck of a sauce--but I wouldn't say they were so transcendent that should, well, transcend time and seasonal ingredients.

    And the atmosphere had the opposite effect on me: I found the decor rather tacky (it looked like my grandmother's apartment); the library wine list gaudy; and Michael, while gregarious, to be shilling hard when he came to the table.

    Such, however, is life.
  • Post #4 - December 15th, 2006, 10:09 am
    Post #4 - December 15th, 2006, 10:09 am Post #4 - December 15th, 2006, 10:09 am
    This was my first time at Michael, so everything was new to me. And, as noted, everything was absolutely wonderful. After all, isn't that the objective?

    I don't generally go back to splurge restaurants all that often - there are so many and I only go on special occasions - but if I went back tomorrow, I would be happy to do so, and would try dishes we didn't get a chance to try the other night. If I went back a third time within a year and found the same menu, at that point it might get old, but that's why I'm usually trying new splurge places rather than going back to the same ones.

    As for the atmosphere, I thought it was relaxed and fun, totally at odds with your description. It was a pleasure talking with Michael, too - I found that he shared our enthusiasm for the food, not at all "shilling". Although I don't think it's mandatory for the chef-owner to be present or to interact with customers, I think it's a sign of keen interest in our reactions, representing not only a higher level of customer service, but also a desire to get feedback to continue their highest standards.
  • Post #5 - December 15th, 2006, 1:18 pm
    Post #5 - December 15th, 2006, 1:18 pm Post #5 - December 15th, 2006, 1:18 pm
    We were there Wed night too. We were the table of 12 with all the wine.
    It was our second wine dinner there and it was just as good as the first.
    Hope we did not disrupt your dinner :lol:
  • Post #6 - February 16th, 2007, 9:51 pm
    Post #6 - February 16th, 2007, 9:51 pm Post #6 - February 16th, 2007, 9:51 pm
    Just came back from dinner at Michael, and my friend and I enjoyed it immensely. Had duck pithivier in Madera sauce to start, the salade Lyonnaise, which alone would get me to return to the restaurant, even if nothing else had been served, and the rack and loin of lamb combo -- loin was perfect and the rack was even better. Tated my friends apple tart with nutmeg ice cream -- very nice. We both ordered wine by the glass, so I ddidn't really study the wine list, but I was pleased that they had about 10 reds by the glass, so there was actually some choice, even if one didn't want a whole bottle.

    My friend and I both felt it was splendid and we both want to return. I could go back tomorrow for the salad (frisee with lardons of bacon, brioche croutons, warm goat cheese, lightly but beautifully dressed with a red wine, shallot, mustard vinaigrette) and the lamb. Just wonderful.

    So I'd definitely recommend Restaurant Michael.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #7 - February 17th, 2007, 10:09 am
    Post #7 - February 17th, 2007, 10:09 am Post #7 - February 17th, 2007, 10:09 am
    I always found his work at Les Deux Gros to be excellent. The one meal I sampled during his brief time at Le Francais was not so special, though it was an Easter Brunch (not a buffet of course), so that created certain constraints.

    Sounds like he is still working in a similar vein, which is not meant as any sort of criticism.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #8 - February 17th, 2007, 11:10 am
    Post #8 - February 17th, 2007, 11:10 am Post #8 - February 17th, 2007, 11:10 am
    dicksond wrote:Sounds like he is still working in a similar vein, which is not meant as any sort of criticism.


    Yeah -- it's not cutting-edge innovation, but sometimes, you just want reliably great food that is also somewhat familiar -- sort of haute comfort food. There was no ponzu sauce or edible menu, but boy, I'll be back for that salad and the lamb. Michael is clearly skilled at producing fairly classic haute cuisine --and as much as I love trying the edgy stuff, I also really love classic French food. I also want to try some of the items I missed this time. (And hey, it's the suburbs, so they can serve foie gras.) Everything we tried was a sensationally good example of what it was supposed to be.

    Also, I noted on the menu that Tuesday nights are now "no corkage fee Tuesdays." You can take your own wine to dinner, if you want to sample their food but don't admire the wine list. (Or if you want to save a few bucks.)
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #9 - February 18th, 2007, 10:16 am
    Post #9 - February 18th, 2007, 10:16 am Post #9 - February 18th, 2007, 10:16 am
    My fiance and I ate at Michael a couple of months ago after having read some good reviews and we were both highly disappointed. The food was better than ok but less than great. By far the worst part of the experience was the waiter. For some reason he decided that we didn't belong there (just to rule this part out: we were appropriately dressed). When I ordered he asked if perhaps I would like to consider something less expensive and when I ordered a bottle of wine before he opened it he made a point to remind me of how much it cost in a way that was questioning if I really wanted him to open it. At the end of the meal we were not offered desert or coffee. Instead we were asked, "And that will be all then?" I had to ask for the desert menu and he didn't seem to happy that I had. I could maybe understand this if it was close to closing time, but we started our meal at 7:30 so this wasn't the case.

    Anyway, I'll never go back.
  • Post #10 - February 18th, 2007, 1:37 pm
    Post #10 - February 18th, 2007, 1:37 pm Post #10 - February 18th, 2007, 1:37 pm
    You need to report bad service to the management. Restaurants can't afford to lose customers just because waiters are bad. All the restaurants where I actually know people are eager for feedback, and offer training or reprimands as necessary, and I know of at least a couple of places that let people go when the complaints were drastic enough.

    I felt that a few members of the waitstaff needed a bit of polish, but the service was otherwise cordial and professional.

    So do call and tell someone (ask for a manager) of the problem.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #11 - February 18th, 2007, 8:44 pm
    Post #11 - February 18th, 2007, 8:44 pm Post #11 - February 18th, 2007, 8:44 pm
    nabicht wrote: For some reason he decided that we didn't belong there (just to rule this part out: we were appropriately dressed).......(snip)
    Anyway, I'll never go back.


    Do you look young for your age? Was it prom season? :D
    Seriously, that's just soooo wrong!

    FWIW, a buddy of mine got treated really poorly at Les Deux Gros
    and just so happened to be there for Check Please!
  • Post #12 - February 19th, 2007, 5:19 pm
    Post #12 - February 19th, 2007, 5:19 pm Post #12 - February 19th, 2007, 5:19 pm
    That is strange. Clearly there was some cue he thought he perceived that made him think that prices would be an issue, but even if that is the case, a professional should have reacted more appropriately.

    Out of curiosity, did you try some direct comment like, "My dear waiter, I have no interest in discussing the cost of my meal with you unless you plan to pay for it?" When faced with haughty help, I find that clearly putting them in their place is the best solution and the sooner the better. Admittedly, one does not get that type of service much in the US these days, but it used to be the rule in the best places. It seems to be a form of condescension prompted by the idea that you may not belong, so the solution is to make it very clear that you know you belong and expect the help to serve you in a courteous manner. Then they can focus on their job, to wait on you.

    Anyway, now that this has come up, I do recall a certain haughty clubbishness at Les Deux Gros. Never bothered me, though and I just attributed it to the proximity of Hinsdale.

    Cynthia, we are in complete agreement. There are places where dishes make you say "Wow" because you never imagined such a thing, and places where the "Wow" comes from the execution and ingredients being just about perfect. Michael, the chef, was always more the latter. Not sure how his new place stacks up against Suzy Crofton, but I see them in the same class even if Suzy has a few years on him. Good taste, excellent technique, mostly classical, nouvelle cuisine (as opposed to Escoffier classical) style.

    I will try to get up there one of these days, if only to search out and correct the attitude of your waiter, nabicht :twisted: .
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #13 - June 18th, 2007, 10:56 am
    Post #13 - June 18th, 2007, 10:56 am Post #13 - June 18th, 2007, 10:56 am
    Four of us had an absolutely first rate meal at Michael's this past Saturday. It reminded me that as much as I love all the new stuff, laboratory food, asian influence, etc., one should never forget the the French tradition has been so influential for a reason. Michael's produces straight ahead intense sauces, rich with butter and cream, etc. Do you have any revelations? No. Do you want to lick your plate clean? Absolutely.

    The highlight of my meal was a grilled quail with preserved lemons and capers over a truffle fettucini. The quail with the lemon caper sauce was a great dish -- they make the preserved lemons in house. But the homemade pasta, with, we were told, both shaved truffles and truffle oil, just put the dish over the top.

    Two other notes. The chef spent considerable time in the dining room, and he's a hoot to chat with. He recommended one dessert, a pear gallette, and said he'd only tell us his secret after we'd tasted it. The secret was that the crust is made out of wonder bread, smothered, of course, with butter and sugar, which then gets sweet and crunchy in the oven.

    Lastly, the sommelier was quite good, clearly not trying to push more expensive wines. He picked two reds in the $40 to $50 range, and came by many times to make sure we were enjoying them. He also recommended the less expense of their two vintage ports.

    All and all, if you've got a hankering for that good old haute French stuff, I don't know any place in town that does it better.
  • Post #14 - February 16th, 2009, 3:04 pm
    Post #14 - February 16th, 2009, 3:04 pm Post #14 - February 16th, 2009, 3:04 pm
    Digging this thread up for an update on Michael's. Why there isn't more press on this place, I'm not sure?

    My wife and I had an outstanding meal on Valentine's Day here. I am one that hates going out on holidays (I used to work in restaurants) as they tend to be amatuer hour. Well, we both agreed that our next dinner here will be much sooner and we need to make a point to eat here more often. Michael offered a three course menu for the special day with ample selections in each catagory. Dinner was $55 per person which I thought was a down right steal. We had 8pm reservations and showed up a few minutes before 8pm and were promptly seated on time. The dining room was plesently full but not too crowded or loud.

    We had a great amuse of duck pate in puff pastry with a truffle reduction sauce (I could have eatten about 20 of these). Michael makes some outstanding pates and this was no exception.

    My wife had the strudel of wild mushrooms and braised oxtail with a decadent veal reduction sauce and I had a lovely scallop and shrimp provencal. While my dish was good the mushroom and oxtail was clearly the winner.

    Entree's consisted of sliced chateaubriand of beef for my wife with the world famous puree of potatoe's ala La Francaise and a roasted vegetable tian.

    I went with the roasted loin of Lamb with Mergeze. Served a mouth-watering Rare to mid rare without prompting from me. Accompanied by eggplant caviar, a small but rich potato napolean and a great rosemary scented reduction sauce.

    I was hankering something more so I asked our server if he could throw a cheese course in before dessert and the kitchen happily sent one out with some beautifully ripe cheeses. A couple of them were a little on the cold side but it can be over looked as it was an impromptu addition.

    The dessert course only had two options, one chocaolate and one vanilla. My wife had the chocolate and I had the vanilla. Each consisted of three minature desserts which both of us quickly inhailed.

    The meal ended with a glass of sparkling wine for me (my wife is 7 months pregnant) on the house and some chocolate truffles to take home.

    The pace of the meal was right on and service was very good without being intrusive. We haven't been here in about a year and it hasn't missed a beat. They are consistantly turning out very high quality, full flavored dishes. For those who miss La Francaise, this is about as close to it as your going to get. I found myself making comments on some of the small details throughout the meal as I worked at Le Francais many years ago and Michael was still honoring what he learned while he was there.

    If you haven't been, I reccommend making a reservation and dining here asap!
  • Post #15 - February 16th, 2009, 4:19 pm
    Post #15 - February 16th, 2009, 4:19 pm Post #15 - February 16th, 2009, 4:19 pm
    I visited again recently, and wish I could go more often. I had the lamb again, which was again outstanding. This time, a friend and I shared the pate platter, which was excellent -- especially the squab liver mousse. The potato and truffle soup Lyonniase was the "I'd go just for that" dish this time. They now offer a prix fixe menu, at least at the usually slow beginning of the week, and Tuesdays are free corkage night (which is why I was there on a Tuesday this visit). The new decor is handsome and the food is, on the whole, splendid.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #16 - February 16th, 2009, 7:15 pm
    Post #16 - February 16th, 2009, 7:15 pm Post #16 - February 16th, 2009, 7:15 pm
    Cynthia wrote:Tuesdays are free corkage night (which is why I was there on a Tuesday this visit).


    What did you BYOB?
  • Post #17 - February 16th, 2009, 8:14 pm
    Post #17 - February 16th, 2009, 8:14 pm Post #17 - February 16th, 2009, 8:14 pm
    mhill95149 wrote:
    Cynthia wrote:Tuesdays are free corkage night (which is why I was there on a Tuesday this visit).


    What did you BYOB?


    It was a friend's birthday, so I brought her favorite champagne -- Veuve Cliquot. So nothing to raise eyebrows, but it pleased my friend, and it kept the price of the dinner manageable for me.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #18 - April 16th, 2009, 9:52 am
    Post #18 - April 16th, 2009, 9:52 am Post #18 - April 16th, 2009, 9:52 am
    What I like about Michael is, as referenced above, their focus on traditional French food. This, of course, used to be the norm for “fancier” dining in Chicago (going back to the very first mid-19 century hotel restaurants, which aped the French from hors d’oeuvres to after dinner cognac). French food -- even the more country French style, as practiced at Michael – has come to seem somehow stuffy and passé (not to mention, until recently, and among the idiocracy, unpatriotic). Still, next to Mexican, French is probably my favorite cuisine, and I still enjoy the traditional pates, soups and salads that Michael dishes up.

    Last night, after dinner, I discovered my favorite dessert, maybe ever.

    Image

    This warm blueberry financier (much like a madeleine) is buttery soft and spongy, a pleasant contrast to the crunchy almost-cookie holding ginger ice cream, which is mysteriously herbaceous, slightly stinging along with a sweetness intensely magnified by the vanilla-scented blueberries in a syrup that looked like honey but which had a depth of flavor that satisfied more than just a sweet tooth.

    Off to the side, there’s a cup of deep, dark cocoa, which can be sipped or poured over the whole thing (I don’t think this is a desirable approach, as it would tend to homogenize the layers of flavor). We dipped our biscotti into the cocoa and I spooned up some like soup.

    Not exactly a traditional French dessert, but with some traditional elements.

    Now that I think more about it, yeah, this is my favorite dessert, ever. For the moment.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #19 - June 11th, 2009, 5:08 pm
    Post #19 - June 11th, 2009, 5:08 pm Post #19 - June 11th, 2009, 5:08 pm
    I just ate at Michael on Tuesday, and it was outstanding. (I posted everything I ate on another thread that mentioned Michael-- the Reliable French Restaurant thread -- as this thread didn't show up when I searched initially. For some reason, deleting the word "restaurant" from my search got better results. Go figure.)

    The only thing I'd add is that Michael has now gone to a fixed price menu -- 3 items (app., main, dessert or app., salad, main) for $45 and 4 items for $53 (with an occasional supplemental charge for things like foie gras and lobster). You can still order a la carte, but if you get a menu, this is how the pricing is presented. There is also a smaller, cheaper tasting menu available, but the regular menu is the 3- or 4-course option. (And I must say, I think that $45 is mighty attractive.)

    The other big news item is that dining at Michael now affords you airline miles (don't know for how many airlines, but at least for United and American) -- which is both good news and bad. Good news if you want to have a lovely dinner and fly later. Bad news if you realize that it's basically places that are just starting out or in trouble that enroll in the mileage programs. (Le Français under Yamauchi offered miles just before it closed the doors on that chapter.) So I'd like to encourage everyone who is so inclined to visit Michael soon -- so it's still there in the future.

    (And David --I agree that that finacier/ginger ice cream sandwich/blueberry/chocolate combo, which I just had Tuesday, was one for the record books. Wow.)
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #20 - June 13th, 2009, 4:46 pm
    Post #20 - June 13th, 2009, 4:46 pm Post #20 - June 13th, 2009, 4:46 pm
    I'm on the e-mail mailing list for Michael, and just got this today. Thought those looking for a good place for Father's Day might be interested.

    "In order to help honour all of our Dad's and Grand Dad's I am going to offer a terrific value for the special day.
    On Sunday June 21st and on June 21st only, Restaurant Michael will be offering two very nice wines at cost. We will be featuring the Bearboat Chardonnay 2005 Russian River Valley and Trefethen Estate Merlot 2005 Napa Valley for just $10 per bottle.
    "This special offer will only be available with the prix fixe menu of three courses for $45 or four courses for $53. and again will only be available on Sunday, June 21st, Father's Day 2009. Reservations will begin at 4:30pm and will continue until 9pm."
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #21 - June 13th, 2009, 5:26 pm
    Post #21 - June 13th, 2009, 5:26 pm Post #21 - June 13th, 2009, 5:26 pm
    FYI for Michael enthusiasts: Chef Lachowicz will be doing free demos next Sunday, June 21, at the Regenstein Fruit and Vegetable Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Demo times are 1:30 and 2:30. He's hugely entertaining, in a larger-than-life way, as well as highly informative, and having worked with him there a couple of years ago, I recommend his presentations. You should go! :)
  • Post #22 - June 23rd, 2009, 1:58 pm
    Post #22 - June 23rd, 2009, 1:58 pm Post #22 - June 23rd, 2009, 1:58 pm
    sundevilpeg wrote:FYI for Michael enthusiasts: Chef Lachowicz will be doing free demos next Sunday, June 21, at the Regenstein Fruit and Vegetable Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Demo times are 1:30 and 2:30. He's hugely entertaining, in a larger-than-life way, as well as highly informative, and having worked with him there a couple of years ago, I recommend his presentations. You should go! :)


    Alas -- due to a sudden medical emergency (to which the substitute chef alluded with a shudder, but no one named), Michael was not there, and we got the chef who develops recipes for Papadeaux in his place. So still a fun demo, but I'm hoping they reschedule Michael.

    As a note, if you do go for the Sunday programs, you might want to stick a cooler in the car. The farmers market at the Botanic Gardens is small but quite nice. However, it closes before the 1:30 demo ends. So I stocked up before the demo, filling my cooler, which I left in the car, then headed off to the demo (plus an additional hour of walking around enjoying the flowers). It's just nice to be able to shop and not have to leave because you're worried about the veggies.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #23 - August 13th, 2009, 3:31 pm
    Post #23 - August 13th, 2009, 3:31 pm Post #23 - August 13th, 2009, 3:31 pm
    New converts! I invited five friends to join me for dinner at Michael, and all were wildly enthusiastic about the meal.

    Only sad note was that we were one of only three tables occupied last night (Wednesday). I'd like to encourage people to take advantage of this great restaurant soon and often, to keep it alive and well. Their $45 prix fixe for three courses is good value, and the food is world class. (And be warned -- servings are pretty generous, at least for French food, and everything is rich. Four courses may be too much. Fortunately, they also offer the option of ordering a la carte, if you want, for example, three appetizers. And they happily cancel or wrap up the fourth course if you run out of room.)

    Having a lot of friends along means one gets to taste lots more than just one's own meal. I again delighted in the seared scallop and shrimp on goat cheese polenta appetizer. Others got the seared foie gras, the house paté platter, and the summer corn soup with truffles. While all were fabulous, the intensely sweet, creamy, truffly corn soup was the surprise delight of the first course.

    In a complete departure from tradition, I didn't have salade Lyonnaise, which I've enjoyed every other time I've eaten at Michael. Instead, I had the pistachio-dusted (though it was more like crusted) goat cheese salad with truffle and veal jus vinaigrette. Mmmm.

    For my main, I had the evening's beef duo special, which was a couple of slices of perfect beef tenderloin surmounted by incredibly flavorful, falling-apart, braised short ribs (sans bones), all perched on a splendid, large ravioli stuffed with veal, mushrooms and truffle. There was a lovely little bundle of tiny French green beans on the side, and dishes were all served with buttery, creamy pomme de terre purée. Others' selections include lamb, lobster salad (August is lobster season, it was noted), sea bass, and soupe des fruit de mer. Everyone was enraptured.

    I had waxed rhapsodic about the blueberry financier combo mentioned by David up thread, so that was ordered by several folks. I'd gone with three courses, so I just nibbled offered samples of other people's desserts (and waited for the chocolate truffle always served at meal's end). The blueberry financier and ginger almond ice cream sandwich remain memorable. One person went with the chocolate trio, and I got a taste of her decadent chocolate pecan tarte.

    So a splendid meal. One friend said this has now surpased Carlos' as her favorite French restaurant. Everyone said they loved it, and a few of us have talked about trying to get there at least once per season, to try the items that do change with the seasons.

    I hope lots of folks make the trek to Winnetka, because this place really is a gem. I don't want to see it meet the fate of some other venerable French restaurants in the area (thinking of the recently shuttered Jacki's and the defunct Le Francais).

    Tuesday night remains free corkage night, but the wine list is pretty reasonable. So go, eat.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #24 - August 14th, 2009, 7:07 am
    Post #24 - August 14th, 2009, 7:07 am Post #24 - August 14th, 2009, 7:07 am
    ^^^

    You would think there would be enough money in Winnetka to supprt a resturaunt like Michael's.

    Where do all the locals eat?
  • Post #25 - August 14th, 2009, 8:44 am
    Post #25 - August 14th, 2009, 8:44 am Post #25 - August 14th, 2009, 8:44 am
    I just received an e-mail from the Michael e-mail list (if you like the food here it's worth subscribing to - there are frequent special wine dinners and the communication is kept at a minimum) and they are offering a deal where when you buy a gift card you get an extra amount added on to it - if you buy a $100 gift card it becomes $125 and so on. Not a bad deal if you eat here with any frequency or are planning a larger group outing like Cynthia did.
  • Post #26 - August 14th, 2009, 7:14 pm
    Post #26 - August 14th, 2009, 7:14 pm Post #26 - August 14th, 2009, 7:14 pm
    Tobermory wrote:I just received an e-mail from the Michael e-mail list (if you like the food here it's worth subscribing to - there are frequent special wine dinners and the communication is kept at a minimum) and they are offering a deal where when you buy a gift card you get an extra amount added on to it - if you buy a $100 gift card it becomes $125 and so on. Not a bad deal if you eat here with any frequency or are planning a larger group outing like Cynthia did.

    I received what I assume is the same e-mail. However, it says that these "dining dollars" (as it calls them) "are available in blocks of $500". Based on that wording, I would assume you can't just buy a $100 gift card to take advantage of the offer; you've got to spend $500, $1000, etc. Feel free to correct me on that if you know otherwise!

    Incidentally, I have eaten at Michael at least a half dozen times since my original post above, and it has been equally wonderful every time. My most recent time was last month on a Friday evening and they were doing a pretty good business. I got that same beef duo of the filet and short ribs, and was particularly impressed with how they cooked the filet as a single slice, then sliced it across the middle, so each of the two slices was an "end slice" on one side, and medium rare on the other. Loved it.

    If you're looking for a particularly good value and your schedule permits, Michael is open for lunch on Fridays...

    P.S. I'm a bit reluctant to refer to Michael as a "French restaurant" because the type of food is really not very different from what you'd find at any upscale "contemporary American restaurant". But that may just be a reflection on the globalization trend in finer dining. (You can find the same phenomenon at some other restaurants, such as Cafe des Architectes, whose executive chef, Martial Noguier, is actually French.)
  • Post #27 - August 17th, 2009, 1:33 pm
    Post #27 - August 17th, 2009, 1:33 pm Post #27 - August 17th, 2009, 1:33 pm
    The latest email from Michael -- an even better deal, if you're waiting until you can afford it.

    Restaurant Michael is rolling out a beautiful new budget friendly menu option in addition to our regular menu.
    We named it the "Cafe Favorites" menu and it is rock bottom priced at $34 for three courses. (plus tip and tax). We are also offering a 2 wine flight to pair with this lovely menu for just $14! I promise you will not find this quality for a price this low ANYWHERE!!!

    The new menu option begins tomorrow, Tuesday, August 18th and will be available weekly every day but Saturday.

    The menu for this week is........

    Appetizers:
    Pan fried rosemary scented lamb and diced potato ravioli with roasted lamb jus and chive creme fraiche
    ~
    Summer corn and tarragon blini's with shaved fennel, sauteed shrimp and chervil salad
    ~
    Jumbo French snails baked with garlic and Pernod in brioche crust
    Entrees:
    Classic steak frites with baby French Green Beans
    ~
    Potato crusted white fish over mushroom polenta and sauteed red chard with tomato fondue
    ~
    Roast chicken au poivre with fingerling potatoes and cool mango relish
    Desserts:
    Crisp profiteroles with caramel gelato and bittersweet chocolate syrup
    ~
    Peach filled crepes with cinnamon whipped cream and toasted pecans


    I hope you all take advantage of this wonderful menu only at Restaurant Michael!!!

    Have a great Day!

    Michael

    Restaurant Michael is located at:
    64 Green Bay Road
    Winnetka, IL 60093
    Phone: 847.441.3100
    Fax: 847.441.0169
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #28 - August 17th, 2009, 4:43 pm
    Post #28 - August 17th, 2009, 4:43 pm Post #28 - August 17th, 2009, 4:43 pm
    Now that finally sounds like a value. From the stellar reviews, I think that 2 people, 3 courses each, 2 glasses of decent wine plus tip, all for around $100 will prompt me to try Michael within the next couple weeks. Looking forward to it.

    I have to think that if they haven't already, other North Shore establishments will follow suit. Prices have been ratcheted so high for so long at these places, it took a bad hit to all socioeconomic levels & probably a lot of empty chairs for this to happen.
  • Post #29 - September 3rd, 2009, 11:11 pm
    Post #29 - September 3rd, 2009, 11:11 pm Post #29 - September 3rd, 2009, 11:11 pm
    Longtime lurker/newbie poster here.

    My mom and I finally hit up Michael for a belated celebration of my birthday. I had been wanting to visit for a long time, and this thread kept popping up to remind me that I hadn't yet been.

    We visited on a rainy night, and the hostess was extremely kind and accommodating, although we were a bit early (in fact, on the way out, she said that she wished she could have given us a better table, but that they had all been full at that point!)

    We did the 3-course prix fixe (my mom initially pushed for the 4-course, but I convinced her that there would be MORE than enough food with 3, and she grudgingly agreed. When she tried to push most of her dessert off on me, I reminded her that she had been the one suggesting 4 courses!)

    The amuse-bouche was two delicious gougeres filled with a cheesy, creamy sauce. We wished we each had had 2 or 3, but with only one apiece, at least we saved room for what was to follow!

    We split everything ordered. Appetizers were the foie gras two ways (seared and strudel), and the shrimp and scallops with tarragon, both of which have gotten much well-deserved love from other posters here. Tarragon is really an herb I need to use more - it's not as ubiquitous as basil and thyme, and it's delicious. The foie was sublime in both its incarnations, although the little toast points served with it were superfluous for my purposes.

    Mains were the salmon with brussels sprouts, asparagus, and wild mushrooms, and the lamb with osso bucco ravioli, provencal vegetable tian, and flan (I don't think it was artichoke on the evening we were there, but I can't think what it was). The salmon was perfectly cooked (which to me means seared on the outside, translucent in the middle), the mushrooms were delicious, and the asparagus and brussels sprouts barely cooked and perfectly fresh. My mom thought the brussels sprout leaves were underdone, but since it was served as individual leaves, and not heads, I thought it was pleasantly crunchy and a nice contrast to the silky fish.

    The lamb was decidedly un-gamey; in fact, it was the beefiest lamb I've ever had. The osso buco ravioli was tender and bursting with flavor, and the truffle jus was the first use of truffles my mother has ever enjoyed (I know, heresy, but de gustibus non est disputandum). She gave me the entire provencal vegetable concoction, since she doesn't enjoy tomatoes. The tomatoes, while they looked very, very pale, were quite flavorful, leading me to wonder whether they were one of the pinkish heirloom varieties I've seen at farmers' markets. The waiter came around offering mashed potatoes, which were very thin (so thin that when they were served to a nearby table, I thought them to be horseradish sauce). Despite their odd consistency, they were also delicious.

    Dessert was the much-touted blueberry financier, etc. and the chocolate trio. The entire financier dessert was excellent, while among the chocolate trio, the molten chocolate cake was really the only standout. We were so full by that point that it hardly mattered.

    Wines by the glass were very tasty, and the chard offered by the glass was particularly excellent with the salmon.

    While eating, we were already plotting our next visit. It's gotta be soon - now that we know what we've been missing, I don't think we'll be able to stay away long!

    Thanks to all the tips you guys have provided, and I hope to contribute more soon (Anteprima has become one of our favorites, so we'll probably head back there in the next few weeks as well).
  • Post #30 - September 3rd, 2009, 11:21 pm
    Post #30 - September 3rd, 2009, 11:21 pm Post #30 - September 3rd, 2009, 11:21 pm
    Great first review! Hope to hear more from you.

    Incidentally,
    pamiam wrote:...brussels sprouts...brussels sprout leaves...

    YES! Thank you! My inner grammar policeman approves...it sticks out to me when people leave the 's' off of the 'Brussels' in 'Brussels sprout' :lol:

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