How did you celebrate Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for "increase the price of tecate five times in May)? What does this have to do with Michael's? Nothing. Except that I had to pay some absurd price for cheap Mexican beer tonight and I thought you'd all like to know. That's also my quasi-apology for any typos or spelling errors below.
So are you looking to dine in a strip center? Of course you are. Hole In The Wall patrons love bastions of sameness. Well I have a surprise for you. Michael's is in a strip center, but its not the same as other places. First, there is a pretty sweet patio. Second, Brinker International does not own it. Third, you don't stand in line to order a sandwich. Tempting huh?
The Mrs. (Muffy), and another couple friend of ours, Zsa Zsa and Williamston Thurstontingshire, went for dinner recently and really yuppied it up. Michael's is on the west side for those of you who haven't heard and its in the strip center across from Milano's. Michael's is creatively named after chef Michael Thomas who has a list of his ideal table to cook for on his website. I am not on there so he better not expect me to go easy on him here. In fact, I am so outraged I am only giving seven thumbs up (anybody?).
Muffy and I started off with the Ranch Goat Cheese Tart. I'm a huge fan of anything made from one of the most obnoxious animals on earth so this was an exciting appetizer to me. The goat cheese was delicious and plentiful. The fact that it resembled nothing akin to a tart was odd. The fact that the plate consisted of ten pounds of goat cheese and only six tiny pieces of bread to eat it with was a disappointment. It was a bigger disappointment when the waiter offered to bring us some more bread and then charged us three more dollars. I don't expect free food. But, come on. Wouldn't you want to keep the voice of the people happy? Plus, if you have seen the pieces of bread, you know that its woefully insufficient for this dish. I'm not eating spoonfuls of goat cheese.
Luckily, Michael's Mojito numero dos came out about this time. Before I get into my entree, you must hear all about the drinks. Michael's is, in my view, a great bar with a decent restaurant in the back. The drink menu is extensive and everything we tried was delicious. Because of the good natured ribbing (that I still resent in every fiber of my being) that I received from my drink orders at Piranha, I avoided the Martini menu. But I might sneak over there, sans friends, just to try the Vesper and Stock Show martinis.
So back to the food. Zsa Zsa and Williamston ordered the Pesto Chicken Pizza which they seemed to really enjoy. I licked a piece when Williamston wasn't looking and it had a lot of flavor. Muffy and I split the Ancho Chicken Mixteco. This is where Chef Thomas lost me. I wasn't aware of the extra bread slice charge at the time so that only added insult to injury, but this was the moment when I started to question this place.
The Mixteco is essentially a fancy king ranch casserole. Except your mom never included chicken bones when she made it for you. Yes. Chicken bones. In a casserole. Isn't TRUST the driving factor of casserole consumption in the United States? You eat a casserole, trusting that its maker did not include chicken bones, mushrooms or lice. The Mixteco did not have the mushrooms or lice. Muffy was not so impressed with the flavor but we discovered later that she doesn't like Ancho chiles. However, we both like certain dishes served warm. Casserole is one of those dishes. This dish was not served warm.
Many of you are thinking, "why didn't you send it back and make a big scene and flaunt your micro-celebrity status on the waiter?" Cuz I don't roll that way, G. And I will reference you to the paragraph regarding drinks. I was having a good time. Plus, Muffy doesn't like me to make big stands in front of people we plan on seeing again. But believe you me, if I were alone or just with her, you would have seen my name in the paper ("Local Man Cries on Waiter").
I probably wont be making any trips back to Michael's soon. My wife didn't like it and the three dollar bread charge really bothered me. Not because I'm that cheap but because it was ridiculous. My companions' food was delicious, according to them, the menu looked great with some unique options and the drink menu was great. So it may be for some people. And maybe if I go back and try something different, I'll have a better time. But chicken bones in a cold casserole and three dollars for six little pieces of bread have scarred my delicate eating habits.
Michael's Restaurant and Ancho Chili Bar is located at 3413 W. 7th.
Let me know what you think.