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GREAT Dinner at Michael in Winnetka!

GREAT Dinner at Michael in Winnetka!
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  • Post #31 - August 9th, 2010, 8:39 pm
    Post #31 - August 9th, 2010, 8:39 pm Post #31 - August 9th, 2010, 8:39 pm
    We ate at Michael again last month, and I gotta tell you, they knocked it out of the park again. Just OUTSTANDING. How good was it? This was one of the two best dinners I've had in the past three years (and the other, at Alinea, cost several times as much). It was AMAZING.

    When we were seated, we were served two small grugeres (melted cheese puffs) that were yummy. One appetizer was the foie gras appetizer noted in the original post above (seared foie gras over foie gras and mushroom strudel), although it is now labeled "foie gras served two ways" on the menu. The other was a giant sea scallop served over a spinach-filled crepe. Both were superb.

    But wait, there's more! Next was a very nice frisee salad with pecans and Asian pears. ... And things just kept getting better and better as the meal went along. One entree we had pre-ordered after receiving an e-mail from Michael's mailing list. It was a Dover sole and Maine lobster duo, with half of a 1.5-pound Dover sole (2 filets) and half of a 1.25-pound Maine lobster (claw, tail and arm meat all shell free), served with Grilled thin asparagus and Drawn lobster butter over creamy polenta. Imagine the most tender, moist, and delicious Dover sole you've ever had in your life. Now imagine the most tender, moist, and delicious lobster meat you've ever had in your life. THAT'S how good this was. And oh yeah, the creamy polenta was equally amazing, with a silky smooth texture and a great taste (it had some goat's milk cheese in it). The other entree was just about as amazing; it consisted of a stuffed breast of hen, amazingly tender, moist, and delicious, and a breast of Pekin duck, perfectly cooked and fanned out on the plate in ultrathin slices, with virtually no fat to trim off, served alongside Door County cherries.

    But wait, there's more! We had two desserts, and they were just as amazing as the entrees. One was a candied spiced peach served over a shortbread cookie, with a small scoop of spicy roasted orange sherbet placed on a French fig. The other was a "mango charlotte" that didn't seem like a charlotte but was easily the best dessert I've had all year. It was a buttery rich moist cake, almost like an upside-down cake, with chopped mango in the middle, and a small scoop of coconut ice cream on top, and it was just wickedly sinful. Amazing. (The waiter told us how it's made but I won't spoil the fun!) A little bit of chopped macadamia in the corners of the plate was a nice touch for this exquisite dessert. And our waiter also brought complimentary chocolate truffles, but even though they were very good, they were only the final touch on a meal that was already phenomenal.

    Michael is also reasonable in price for such high quality food. It's $48 if you order three courses and $55 if you order four courses (the foie gras dish had a $6 supplement, the only supplement I recall seeing on the menu).

    Michael is a very, very special restaurant, IMHO the very best in the suburbs and the very best in the Chicago area aside from a handful of uber-expensive big-name restaurants in the city. Those who haven't been there are really missing something special. If you live in the city, it's easy to get there on the Metra commuter train (see metrarail.com ); the Indian Hill stop on the Union Pacific North line is just a few steps from the restaurant, and the trains run well into the evening.
  • Post #32 - August 11th, 2010, 6:37 am
    Post #32 - August 11th, 2010, 6:37 am Post #32 - August 11th, 2010, 6:37 am
    nsxtasy wrote:This was one of the two best dinners I've had in the past three years (and the other, at Alinea, cost several times as much). It was AMAZING.
    My one and only meal at Michael was MEDIOCRE, since your recent experience was OUTSTANDING/AMAZING I may consider giving them another try even though I mentally equate Michael with Wholly Frijoles, in other words playing for an audience whose palates and mine don't intersect.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #33 - August 11th, 2010, 7:48 am
    Post #33 - August 11th, 2010, 7:48 am Post #33 - August 11th, 2010, 7:48 am
    "we must all understand that we're not all going to agree on everything, so let's just accept it -- hell, let's cherish it -- and move on." - ronnie_suburban
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #34 - October 27th, 2010, 8:58 am
    Post #34 - October 27th, 2010, 8:58 am Post #34 - October 27th, 2010, 8:58 am
    We had a wine dinner last night at Michael and he and his staff did a great job start to finish
    Michael came out and smelled or tasted most of the wines and planned our courses around the wines.
    Image
    Michael was very excited to use some micro greens from LI
    Image
    Foie over a truffled potato mash
    Image
    Sea bass over polenta with mushrooms and a lobster sauce
    Image
    Venison with a sweet potato cake (hidden) and maybe a chestnut puree?
    Image
    Squab perfectly cooked & a neat "potato chip" that was great with the egg
    Image
    just a "wafer-thin" sweet to put us over the top...
    Plus, he came in way under budget!


    Forgot to shoot the cheese course...
  • Post #35 - February 11th, 2011, 7:58 am
    Post #35 - February 11th, 2011, 7:58 am Post #35 - February 11th, 2011, 7:58 am
    I love Michael's the restaurant and I love Michael the chef's passion for the food. But this notice I received yesterday from Groupon makes me think he's a bit of a bonehead as a businessman. Changing the rules in the middle of the game is poor form, so I'm not sure I can support him in the future.


    Hi John,

    Thanks for purchasing the Restaurant Michael Groupon.

    We’re writing to inform you of an important change to the redemption instructions for this Groupon.

    The redemption instructions originally stated that it was not valid on the following days: 2/14/11, 12/24/11 or 12/31/11. This business has changed these blackout dates to include Fridays and Saturdays between 6:15 p.m. and 8 p.m., so please make sure that your reservation does not fall between those times when using your Groupon.
    If you are no longer interested in using this Groupon due to the new information, please let us know at support@groupon.com and we’d be happy to issue you a full refund.

    Our apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.


    Need help? Have feedback? Feel free to Contact Groupon
    John Danza
  • Post #36 - February 11th, 2011, 9:33 am
    Post #36 - February 11th, 2011, 9:33 am Post #36 - February 11th, 2011, 9:33 am
    John Danza wrote:I love Michael's the restaurant and I love Michael the chef's passion for the food. But this notice I received yesterday from Groupon makes me think he's a bit of a bonehead as a businessman. Changing the rules in the middle of the game is poor form, so I'm not sure I can support him in the future.



    Really...you like the place, but you may not go there anymore? It's not as if you bought a Super Bowl ticket and didn't have a seat to see your favorite team play. You can easily get your money back for the groupon.

    I'd prefer give small proprietors the benefit of the doubt when they are dealing with Groupon. It's possible that Groupon strongly dissuaded him to place such restrictions on the offer.
    Also, it's difficult for the proprietor to forecast the quantity of sales and thus the impact on his/her existing customers. These statements may prove your point that he's not a good business person, but I choose my restaurants based on the chef's cooking talent, not business prowess. IMHO, there hasn't been any ethical issues...so I don't see what harm was caused here. You bought something...the offer was modified...you can get a full refund.

    If we chose restaurants based on business acumen we'd all be eating at Friday's, Cheesecake Factory and LEYE restaurants tonight.

    -Matt
  • Post #37 - February 11th, 2011, 9:55 am
    Post #37 - February 11th, 2011, 9:55 am Post #37 - February 11th, 2011, 9:55 am
    milz50 wrote:
    John Danza wrote:I love Michael's the restaurant and I love Michael the chef's passion for the food. But this notice I received yesterday from Groupon makes me think he's a bit of a bonehead as a businessman. Changing the rules in the middle of the game is poor form, so I'm not sure I can support him in the future.



    Really...you like the place, but you may not go there anymore? It's not as if you bought a Super Bowl ticket and didn't have a seat to see your favorite team play. You can easily get your money back for the groupon.

    I'd prefer give small proprietors the benefit of the doubt when they are dealing with Groupon. It's possible that Groupon strongly dissuaded him to place such restrictions on the offer.
    Also, it's difficult for the proprietor to forecast the quantity of sales and thus the impact on his/her existing customers. These statements may prove your point that he's not a good business person, but I choose my restaurants based on the chef's cooking talent, not business prowess. IMHO, there hasn't been any ethical issues...so I don't see what harm was caused here. You bought something...the offer was modified...you can get a full refund.

    If we chose restaurants based on business acumen we'd all be eating at Friday's, Cheesecake Factory and LEYE restaurants tonight.

    -Matt


    Matt,

    A couple of things are incorrect in your statement. First, it's very easy to forecast the sales because Groupon allows them to set a maximum number of groupons that can be sold. Second, my understanding from talking with the Maitre D'hotel when I was there in January was that this isn't the first time the restaurant has done a Groupon, so they went in with eyes wide open.

    I think you missed my point on why I might not support him. It has less to do with business acumen and more to do with business ethics. I do believe it's unethical to change the terms of an agreement after the product has been sold, regardless of whether or not I can obtain a refund. If you're fine with buying a product from someone and having them tell you that it's different than it was supposed to be after you purchased it, that's fine. It doesn't make it ethical however.
    John Danza
  • Post #38 - February 11th, 2011, 10:28 am
    Post #38 - February 11th, 2011, 10:28 am Post #38 - February 11th, 2011, 10:28 am
    John Danza wrote:Matt,

    A couple of things are incorrect in your statement. First, it's very easy to forecast the sales because Groupon allows them to set a maximum number of groupons that can be sold. Second, my understanding from talking with the Maitre D'hotel when I was there in January was that this isn't the first time the restaurant has done a Groupon, so they went in with eyes wide open.

    I think you missed my point on why I might not support him. It has less to do with business acumen and more to do with business ethics. I do believe it's unethical to change the terms of an agreement after the product has been sold, regardless of whether or not I can obtain a refund. If you're fine with buying a product from someone and having them tell you that it's different than it was supposed to be after you purchased it, that's fine. It doesn't make it ethical however.



    John,

    I will concede the points about groupon and that I misunderstood the thrust of your frustration. I agree the point at issue is whether this is an ethical issue or not. It is a matter of opinion and in my post I stated that I didn't believe that it was unethical. I don't believe that he did this with any intention of tricking people or trying to bait-and-switch them. I believe the scale of operation is relevant.

    -If Taco Bell changed their offer, I'd hold them to a higher standard than I would a chef-run restaurant.
    -If I had a contract to buy a condo at Trump Tower and he canceled it because he knew he could sell the unit for more, then I would call that an ethical issue.
    -If Michael, rather than amending the offer, raised the price of dinner on Fridays and Saturdays then I would say it was poor ethics.
    -If I have a fixed contract with a gentleman to plow my driveway and he asks me for more money after the blizzard of '11, I do not consider that an ethical issue.

    If it is so important to you to be able to go on a Friday or Saturday then call them - I bet they would oblige for an existing customer (don't post about it though - that would put them in an awkward position). Trust me, I do not like to get ripped off...I've spent many an hour on a couch at a therapist learning to cope with it. I really don't see what causes such ire in this situation though. Sorry. Perhaps someone else can chime in because sometimes I have a hard time putting my thoughts into a coherent written argument.

    -Matt
  • Post #39 - February 11th, 2011, 12:42 pm
    Post #39 - February 11th, 2011, 12:42 pm Post #39 - February 11th, 2011, 12:42 pm
    I just got a correction email from Groupon. It states the following:

    Hi John,

    Thanks for purchasing the Restaurant Michael Groupon.

    Unfortunately, the previous announcement we sent about this Groupon was incorrect. Your Groupon is still valid on Friday and Saturday evenings – you simply cannot make a reservation for those times. Restaurant Michael does not accept any reservations on Friday or Saturday between 6:15 p.m. and 8 p.m.

    Sorry for any confusion this might have caused.

    This Groupon is still not valid on the blackout dates originally listed in the Fine Print: 2/14/11, 12/24/11 or 12/31/11.

    As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail us at support@groupon.com and we’ll be happy to assist you.

    And thanks again for using Groupon


    I guess I apologize to Michael for my comments. I didn't know that they had turned into a "first come first served" restaurant on Friday and Saturday. According to their website, this policy was put in force on January 29, 2011.
    John Danza
  • Post #40 - February 11th, 2011, 3:22 pm
    Post #40 - February 11th, 2011, 3:22 pm Post #40 - February 11th, 2011, 3:22 pm
    Man, from nice guy chef to unethical businessman and back to nice guy chef all in the span of a few hours!
    Objects in mirror appear to be losing.
  • Post #41 - April 20th, 2011, 12:52 pm
    Post #41 - April 20th, 2011, 12:52 pm Post #41 - April 20th, 2011, 12:52 pm
    Took my Groupon and a good book to Restaurant Michael last night, and I had a superb meal with only one minor disappointment.

    The book was Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl. It made a great companion for the evening.

    The gougere was delivered, as expected, and was a lovely, gooey morsel, as expected.

    Warm rolls were very nice -- a kind of sourdough taste that worked well with the sweetness of the butter.

    The "Cannelloni" of escargot, gorgonzola-eggplant "caviar," crisp eggplant chips, rosemary oil, and toasted walnuts was lovely -- though you really need to like blue cheese. (Fortunately, I do like blue.) The eggplant chips were so good I wish they packaged them -- both crisp and unctuous at the same time. The noodles surrounding the escargot filling were perfectly cooked the sauce was lovely. Only thought was that the gorgonzola came close to overwhelming the taste of the escargot.

    The featured spring dish is fresh spring pea with truffle soup. Hard to believe I'd pass on anything with truffles, but I just wasn't in the mood for pea soup -- but thought I'd mention it, in case it would appeal mightily to someone else.

    The only disappointment for me was the Salade Lyonnaise. I am sure it must be pressure from clients on the North Shore that has had them back off of using true lardons -- the large, luxurious, fat-heavy chunks of bacon that are a key element of this salad, and which Michael was using the first time I ate there. Now, there are small, crisp, meaty bits of very excellent bacon -- tasty, but not lardons. However, the salad was still lovely -- bright, fresh, beautifully dressed, perfectly poached egg -- so I enjoyed it, but I was disappointed. I wanted my lardons. I will probably not bother getting it again here, since they have so many other wonderful choices.

    My main course was celestial. I got the roasted saddle of New Zealand venison with chestnut purée, sweet potato and celery root gratin, and wild huckleberry sauce. This was absolutely perfect. The venison was perfectly cooked -- really rare but with a tiny bit of char on the outside. I'm not sure what they used to flavor the chestnut purée, but I'm guessing maybe maple syrup (?) -- but whatever it was, it was the best chestnut preparation I've ever had. The sauce was wonderful and fruity, and the little gratin was delicious. This was served, as always, with that magical purée of butter potatoes that comes with just about every main course, and which I love.

    They have a nice selection of wines by the glass, and I had a Proseco with my appetizer and took the waiter's advice and went with Zinfandel with the venison (good choice -- nice peppery back notes matched well with the pepper in the sauce).

    I noticed that they still had that incredible blueberry financier on the menu, but I was already full, so I passed on dessert and just had decaf. Even the coffee was surprisingly good -- rich and full bodied, strong without bitterness. Coffee also bought chocolate truffles-- and a truffle was just enough dessert for me.

    Simply a perfect meal. And despite the Groupon, I was treated like a valued customer and got splendid service. Everyone was charming and friendly. Maybe it's because, if you're dining alone and reading a food history book, they know you're really into the food (and there was genuine delight in all faces whenever I complimented a dish) and not just there because you've been dragged there by someone -- but I felt positively pampered.

    I'll be back.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #42 - August 19th, 2011, 12:20 am
    Post #42 - August 19th, 2011, 12:20 am Post #42 - August 19th, 2011, 12:20 am
    Fun development at Michael that combines the best of a couple of eras and chefs.

    Tomorrow night, Friday August 18, Michael will be resurrecting the famous salmon with lobster mousse en croute that was a house specialty at Le Français, back in its hey day. Patrick Chabert, long-time sou chef to Le Français's Chef Jean Banchet has assisted Michael with recreating this classic, which will only be availble for one night.

    I won't be able to go, but I do wish to note that this is an amazing dish. It was, in fact, the main course I ordered the first time I ate at Le Français, back in the '70s. If it's anywhere as good as Jean Banchet's, it will be a splendid repast.

    Just thought you'd want to know. Trip down memory lane. (And if you're a fan of Paul Bocuse, know that it was Bocuse who originated this dish, and Bocuse who trained Banchet. So a bit of history here.)

    Good fun. The new stuff is great, but I like visiting the classics. Hope this does well so he'll do it again.

    Oh -- and if you want to go, not only do you need reservations, you need to tell them if you want this dish as your main course. It's how they keep the specials specially priced -- they only make as much as is ordered in advance.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #43 - September 16th, 2012, 8:05 pm
    Post #43 - September 16th, 2012, 8:05 pm Post #43 - September 16th, 2012, 8:05 pm
    Cynthia wrote:Took my Groupon...
    as did we this evening.

    started w/small gruyère stuffed rolls, still a bit warm so cheese was very soft. Nice start.

    next was SMALL tomato bisque, nicely done, heady tomato flavor

    zucchini blossoms stuffed w/salmon & mushroom mousse w/dash of curry sauce. we didn't taste any mushrooms in the mousse, all salmon, I would have liked more of the curry sauce but I can imagine most folks going wouldn't appreciate more curry. (just my personal belief).

    escargot 'roll' w/truffle sauce, 4-5 escargot rolled inside a flat piece of pasta w/truffle sauce. I felt the escargot were tough & did not have a lot of flavor, nor did the truffle sauce.

    chicken/mushroom mousse around pork loin en croute, the knockout dish of the evening, everything else was ok at best but this dish was terrific, pork was done just perfect but the star was the light en croute & chicken/mushroom mousse, just sooooo much flavor.

    to end, mini chocolate soufflé w/second small cup of warmed liquid chocolate w/sliced strawberry & pistachio crisp, a good dessert.

    Wine pairings were all either French or Italian.

    Michael was never seen the whole time we were there.

    if it had not been for the pork loin w/chicken/mushroom mousse en croute, I would not have been moved by our meal, just nothing special, but due to this one dish, I will go back and give Michaels another try.
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #44 - December 22nd, 2012, 9:15 pm
    Post #44 - December 22nd, 2012, 9:15 pm Post #44 - December 22nd, 2012, 9:15 pm
    Had a very fun "End of the World" dinner last night at Restaurant Michael. There were three special entrees, all very luxurious, plus a choice of any appetizer and any dessert, for $45. Plus wine was half price.

    All three entrees sounded pretty amazing, but I couldn't resist the kobe beef with foie gras dumpling and truffled potato gratin. The kobe beef was lovely, but the foie gras dumpling, which was incredible, was almost worth the price of admission. For my starter, I picked the warm terrine of chanterelle mushrooms and artichoke with truffle artichoke puree, because I'd had it previously and loved it. Then the beautiful kobe beef and dumpling, and for dessert, the chocolate souffle with butterscotch gelato. Very nice -- but for me, the savory courses are always the highlights of the meals. Since wine was half price, we went with the "Sommelier Recommends" Cabernet on the by-the-glass wine list. Very nice.

    Big surprise of the evening was seeing Michael. Didn't even recognize him at first. He's lost a ton of weight, shaved the beard, and cut his hair. Looks like a different person -- and even the name embroidered on his chef's jacket didn't fully convince me at first that it was really him -- at least until he stopped by to chat.

    Great meal. Excellent price -- which is good, since the world didn't end, and I'll have to pay the credit card bill when it comes. ;-)
    Last edited by Cynthia on December 23rd, 2012, 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #45 - December 23rd, 2012, 10:03 am
    Post #45 - December 23rd, 2012, 10:03 am Post #45 - December 23rd, 2012, 10:03 am
    We were there on Tuesday, no corkage night, and great to see it packed. Michael must have been off, no sight of the 'new man'. Another good meal, one of my favorite dishes there, the venison loin, was just outstanding. Our only quibble is the dessert selections heavy leanings on chocolate and ice cream. It could use some fruit and pastry options.
  • Post #46 - December 23rd, 2012, 11:55 am
    Post #46 - December 23rd, 2012, 11:55 am Post #46 - December 23rd, 2012, 11:55 am
    Cynthia wrote:Had a very fun "End of the World" dinner last night at Restaurant Michael. There were three special entrees, all very luxurious, plus a choice of any appetizer and any dessert, for $45. Plus wine was half price.

    We were probably sitting close by. :)

    The entrees were homages to famous chefs - the kobe beef to Pierre Orsi, the dover sole to Fredy Girardet, and the truffle-stuffed organic hen to Paul Bocuse.

    Everything was excellent as usual. Our favorite dish was the sole ("Sauteed Filet of Dover Sole, Caramelized Cauliflower and Ossetra Caviar Cream, Crispy Pomme Anna").

    Al Ehrhardt wrote:Our only quibble is the dessert selections heavy leanings on chocolate and ice cream. It could use some fruit and pastry options.

    We had the poached pear and pear bread pudding, which should qualify. (Along with the fallen chocolate souffle that Cynthia mentioned. Souffle, yummmm... Which reminds us of how Michael likes to joke about how serving souffle is like charging people for flavored air.)
  • Post #47 - January 15th, 2014, 12:34 am
    Post #47 - January 15th, 2014, 12:34 am Post #47 - January 15th, 2014, 12:34 am
    from dinner tonight
    Image
    Duo of Foie Gras “Crème Brulée” and Foie Gras “Club Sandwich”
    Image
    Chilled Sauternes-Marinated Foie Gras Terrine au Torchon, Confit Black Mission Fig, Warm Fig Syrup
    Image
    Tuna & Salmon:
    Thai-Accented Salmon Tartare & Five-Spice Seared Tuna Loin,
    Shaved Fennel Salad, Lotus Root Chip
    Image
    Chilled Vegetable & Wild Leek Terrine, Truffle Vinaigrette
    Image
    Classic Salade Lyonnaise:
    Frisée, Bacon Lardons, Medium Poached Egg,
    Croutons, Mustard Vinaigrette
    Image
    Grilled Filet Mignon and Slowly Braised, Garlic Scented
    Short Rib Ravioli “Grand Mère”
    Image
    Roast Loin of Cervena Venison, Chestnut Puree, Sweet Potato Gratin,
    Micro Turnips, Sauce Grand Veneur
    Image
    Roasted Squab & Pithivier of Duck with Pistachios and Truffle Game Jus
    In The Style of “Jean Banchet
    Image
    Hot Praline Soufflé, Frangelico Crème Anglaise
    Last edited by mhill95149 on January 15th, 2014, 4:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #48 - January 15th, 2014, 12:56 am
    Post #48 - January 15th, 2014, 12:56 am Post #48 - January 15th, 2014, 12:56 am
    Great looking dinner Mel. Michael never fails to deliver.
    John Danza
  • Post #49 - January 15th, 2014, 7:32 am
    Post #49 - January 15th, 2014, 7:32 am Post #49 - January 15th, 2014, 7:32 am
    The vegetable (maybe some seafood in the middle?) terrine looks delicious! Any details on the components?
  • Post #50 - January 15th, 2014, 8:00 am
    Post #50 - January 15th, 2014, 8:00 am Post #50 - January 15th, 2014, 8:00 am
    I did not have this course but the dish is described as Chilled Vegetable & Wild Leek Terrine, Truffle Vinaigrette. I was a big hit for those that order it for their second course.
  • Post #51 - January 15th, 2014, 3:21 pm
    Post #51 - January 15th, 2014, 3:21 pm Post #51 - January 15th, 2014, 3:21 pm
    mhill95149-

    Which foie gras dish did you prefer?
  • Post #52 - January 15th, 2014, 3:29 pm
    Post #52 - January 15th, 2014, 3:29 pm Post #52 - January 15th, 2014, 3:29 pm
    I had the duo and did not taste the torchon. I felt that the sear on the FG in my dish was too hard and dried out the small slice I was served. I think that given the thinness of the slice there was little to no chance to get a decent sear and leave much of the interior fat for texture.
  • Post #53 - January 15th, 2014, 3:32 pm
    Post #53 - January 15th, 2014, 3:32 pm Post #53 - January 15th, 2014, 3:32 pm
    Thank you for the response.

    I'm planning on hitting up Michael's next week.
  • Post #54 - January 12th, 2015, 7:41 am
    Post #54 - January 12th, 2015, 7:41 am Post #54 - January 12th, 2015, 7:41 am
    nsxtasy wrote: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.

    We had another GREAT dinner at Michael last night - one amazingly delicious dish after another after another.

    Here's what we had:

    AMUSE BOUCHE:

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

    APPETIZERS:

    Coconut Crusted Diver Scallop, Chanterelle Mushroom-Shellfish Mousseline, Sweet Curry Cream

    Chilled Lobster & Crab Salad over Truffle Pea Sauce, Saffron Slaw & Garlic Puree

    ENTREES:

    Whole Roasted Dover Sole, Tableside Carved with Toasted Almond Brown Butter (this was a one-night special, requested/reserved in advance in response to an e-mail received from the restaurant Friday morning)

    Candied Squash & Foie Gras Stuffed Tenderloin of Berkshire Pork in Phyllo, Creamy Polenta, Ginger-Apple Spiced Pork Jus

    Creamy mashed potatos for all

    DESSERTS:

    Duo of Mascarpone Cheesecake & Burgundy Poached Pear Financier

    Hot Spiced Chestnut Soufflé, Frangelico Crème Anglaise

    Everything was incredibly good - not a single miss - so good that it's difficult to single out any one dish as a "do not miss". The dover sole was exciting to watch - not only ours, but all around the dining room. Tableside carving is an art that has largely disappeared from restaurants. I just loved - LOVED - the pork dish, and I'm not a huge fan of pork. The pork tenderloin had been flattened/tenderized and rolled around the stuffing, with the phyllo crust rolled around the outside, so that it somewhat resembled an egg roll or maki - layer upon layer, stuffing upon stuffing, in a style reminiscent of Jean Banchet, Michael's predecessor and founder at Le Francais. And the pork jus was an incredibly rich reduction. Oh so good. And the dessert soufflés at Michael are always a treat.

    FWIW, I don't think Michael himself was in the house, but the food was as good as ever, and his staff offered their usual high level of service.

    One other note. For some reason, Opentable's listing for the restaurant shows attire as "Casual Dress". I think this is not accurate. The attire was consistent with what you find at places listed as "Business Casual" or "Smart Casual". More specifically, I did not observe any blue denim, which is what you typically see at places listed as "Casual Dress".

    All in all, a wonderful meal. This would have merited mention as one of my top dinners of the year this past year, and I'll keep it in mind at the end of this year.
  • Post #55 - January 12th, 2015, 5:01 pm
    Post #55 - January 12th, 2015, 5:01 pm Post #55 - January 12th, 2015, 5:01 pm
    I love this restaurant. Have reservations for three weeks from now. Always nice to hear that its keeping up its standards.

    And I live for the gougere and creamy mashed potatoes. :)

    Having lost Le Titi de Paris, Le Français, Le Vichyssois, and Carlos, it's good to have one really excellent, high-end French place still in the suburbs.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #56 - January 14th, 2015, 11:24 pm
    Post #56 - January 14th, 2015, 11:24 pm Post #56 - January 14th, 2015, 11:24 pm
    Looks to be an incredible restaurant; not sure how I missed this. Noted and added to my list.
    "People are too busy in these times to care about good food. We used to spend months working over a bonne-femme sauce, trying to determine just the right proportions of paprika and fresh forest mushrooms to use." -Karoly Gundel, Blue Trout and Black Truffles: The Peregrinations of an Epicure, Joseph Wechsberg, 1954.
  • Post #57 - February 7th, 2015, 11:53 pm
    Post #57 - February 7th, 2015, 11:53 pm Post #57 - February 7th, 2015, 11:53 pm
    Just returned from dinner at Michael. There are nights when just about everything is great -- and then there are nights where everything is absolutely perfect. Tonight was perfect.

    Inevitable and, happily, exquisite gougére as amuse. Always count on these being there. Warm, melty, flavorful.

    Starter: Chilled Lobster & Crab Salad over Truffle Pea Sauce, Saffron Slaw & Garlic Puree -- fresh, tasty, decent amount of seafood for being a starter, garlic light enough to not overwhelm the truffle

    Next:Warm Pistachio Crusted Goat Cheese over Rosemary Scented Mushroom and Pear Ragout, Honey Truffle Vinaigrette -- this was so good I could have just had three or four more of this and been happy -- so fragrant with truffle that I could tell when anyone else in the room ordered it -- not mentioned, but this is the salad course, and there were mixed greens between the goats cheese and rosemary scented mushrooms. Glorious.

    Main: Roasted Saddle of Venison, Sweet Potato Gratin, Chestnut Puree & Brown Butter Turnips, Sauce Myrtilles -- usually get venison, because Michael does it so well. Splendid dish. Served with those silky, buttery pureed potatoes that are so irresistible.

    Desert: Split with my companion -- Chocolate Dacquoise Bombe, Crème Anglaise -- intensely chocolatey, rich and smooth with chewy bits, -- gorgeous.

    Good coffee (even the decaf) with heavy cream. (I don't use sugar, but I appreciate that they serve it with brown sugar cubes.)

    The wines by the glass are nice -- had the malbec, because it's great with venison.

    Absolutely perfect. Exactly what you hope for when you go out for good French food.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #58 - July 10th, 2015, 10:37 pm
    Post #58 - July 10th, 2015, 10:37 pm Post #58 - July 10th, 2015, 10:37 pm
    I have had a lot of great meals at Michael -- but I think tonight may have topped them all. I went with a group of friends for this evening's foie gras special -- and it was special indeed. And it was $62 per person, including the 3 wines (short pours, but perfectly paired -- and really, it seemed like enough).

    5-Course Foie Gras Menu

    Warm Gougeres filled with Foie Gras Mousse
    -- This may be the most decadent thing I've ever eaten. Eyes rolling back in your head and moaning good. And I wasn't the only one who reacted that way.

    Duo of Foie Gras Medallion & Foie Gras-Truffle Ravioli, Cognac Cherry Gastrique
    Served with 2010 Mad Cuvee, Late harvest Tokaji, Hungary.
    I can't imagine I need to say anything -- except maybe that it was perfectly prepared. What's not to love. And great wine choice.

    Chilled Torchon of Foie Gras, Roasted Marcona Almonds, Burgundy Wine Syrup, Confit Fig
    Served with 2011 Macon-Villages, Domaine Henri Perrusset.
    Definitely needed the slice of toasted brioche that came with this, as the foie gras was like butter. Nice wine, too. Also loved the beautiful purée of shallot that decorated the plate.

    Duo of Filet of Beef tenderloin & Roast Breast of Duck, Grilled Foie Gras Medallion, Sweet Potato-Sage Gnocchi, Chanterelle Mushroom & Asparagus Tips, Foie Gras Sauce
    Served with 2011 Gavignet Bourgogne Rouge Pinot Noir.
    The only course where something actually out-shone the foie gras -- best piece of beef I think I've ever had. But the foie gras was awesome, too. Came with the wonderful potato purée that they serve with all meals.

    Peach & White Chocolate Terrine, Champaign-Vanilla Infused Summer Fruit Soup
    A nicely light dessert at the end of a marathon of richness. I'm not a big dessert person, but this was perfect.

    Grand Marnier Chocolate Truffles
    Always a great finishing touch.

    They only had 20 of these dinners available, and we got the last 7. Good friends, unbelievable food, great evening. I've been in places that were more homey and others that were more over-the-top, but of the places left standing, this is hard to beat -- and for the price, hard to imagine anything better.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #59 - July 11th, 2015, 2:53 pm
    Post #59 - July 11th, 2015, 2:53 pm Post #59 - July 11th, 2015, 2:53 pm
    We were there too (as Cynthia knows) and totally agree. Get on Michael's email list! Almost every Thursday, they announce specials for Friday (and more occasionally Sunday). You have to phone in a reservation, but it is well worth it. Last Sunday, July 5, they featured a dinner with any 4 dishes from the menu (appetizer, salad, main course, dessert) plus an extra dish of halibut and a glass of wine for $58, about the regular price of the three course dinner. For appetizers, we had a duo of scallop and crabcake and a creamed corn soup (fantastic!); then a salade lyonnaise and a pistachio goat cheese crusted salad; the halibut (delicious); duo of escolar and salmon and duo of duck breast and duck terrine; and finished off with an assortment of citrus desserts and a fallen chocolate souffle. The dinner came with a glass of chardonnay with the halibut, which we supplemented by splitting a glass of Vouvray for the appetizers and salad and a glass of graves (Bordeaux) for the main course. All for $58 (not counting the two glasses of wine) per person.
  • Post #60 - July 12th, 2015, 10:15 pm
    Post #60 - July 12th, 2015, 10:15 pm Post #60 - July 12th, 2015, 10:15 pm
    chapulin wrote:We were there too (as Cynthia knows) and totally agree.


    Yes -- it was great fun seeing you when I arrived. You were already on the third course, I think, and clearly in total bliss. Your delight made the anticipation of my own meal that much greater. Nice to hear about your other dinner. Wish I could take advantage of more of their specials. What a gem.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com

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