German Village's cozy chef-driven bistro rises to the top of the heap this year.

German Village’s cozy chef-driven bistro rises to the top of the heap this year.

Why the upset? Well, last year’s victor, Rigsby’s, and this year’s winner are honestly neck and neck in just about every category: delightful ambiance, superb service, top-notch food and drink.

When it came down to it, though, after a year of visits to both restaurants, the edge goes to Chef David Tetzloff’s food.

His pure love for cooking shines through on the menu, which changes seasonally and sometimes even daily, and on the plates themselves. Tetzloff makes hearty soul food clearly inspired by time spent in lowcountry South Carolina, but with a devotion to local ingredients that speaks to his Ohio roots.

Refreshingly, G. Michael’s is one of a growing list of restaurants committed to working directly with local farmers but not being obnoxious about it. So while just about every piece of pork, beef and vegetable on the menu comes from a Central Ohio grower, the menu isn’t cluttered with “Portlandia”-esque shout-outs to the farmers who grew each component.

After all, we should be at the point where local sourcing is the standard, not the exception.

Tetzloff’s bad-for-you-good food is what I’d request as a final meal—rich, buttery, meaty, syrupy goodness.

Definitely try the Johnnycakes, a tall stack of cornmeal pancakes topped with juicy barbecued pulled pork and a corn salsa, all drizzled in sticky maple syrup. A late-summer pork chop preparation falls in the same salty-sweet vein—a peach-maple-glazed chop rests on a hash of potatoes and country ham, topped with a Jack Daniel’s reduction sauce.

Tetzloff handles intricately plated fare with just as much ease. Take the Game Duo entree, an inspired pairing of stuffed quail and venison that’s been sprinkled in cocoa and wrapped in bacon. This show-stopper, served on a plate of sweet-and-sour steamed spinach, was one of my favorite meals this year.

Photos by Tessa Berg