G. Michael's virtues never grow old: a terrific chef with a singular vision, an unstuffy setting that's handsome in a timeless fashion (vintage bricks, spiffy wooden bar, white tablecloths) and a warm, personable staff. At “G. Mike's,” regulars are on a first-name basis and newcomers are treated like regulars. Everyone can enjoy a serious wine list and flavor-bomb meals from a low country-leaning menu, written by co-owner and longtime chef David Tetzloff, that features high-quality, seasonal and local ingredients. Bonuses include a hidden-gem patio, an unbeatable happy hour at an upbeat bar and a Monday-blues-killing, three-course meal for $30.***
Difference-Maker: Reverence for Seasonal Ingredients
“Seasonality is about quality—getting the best ingredients at the height of their flavor,” says chef Tetzloff. Additionally, Tetzloff says, “The price is often better because if you're getting local asparagus in season, you don't have to pay to bring it in from far away.” This devotion to area purveyors isn't without complications. As Tetzloff explains, “You must constantly reach out to local farmers. And the fickle Ohio weather means you have to be creative. So rather than a planned caprese salad, one night you might be serving fried green tomatoes.” Try dishes on G. Michael's new fall menu, like succulent pan-roasted duck (from Maple Leaf Farms, an Indiana-based purveyor that also sources from Ohio). The crisp-edged, rosy duck breast meat is fanned atop garlicky broccolini and an inspired hummus, made with delicata squash (from Hershberger's Farm and Bakery in Millersburg), that harmonizes with an almond gremolata and a tongue-tingling pomegranate-molasses vinaigrette. Another home run is the tender, juicy, broiled bone-in pork chop (from Eversole Run Farm in Powell) with sautéed red cabbage (from Hershberger's), a clever cornbread-pudding cake, Tabasco-maple butter (with maple syrup from Milligan's Maple Products in Athens) plus outstanding red-eye gravy. Vegetarian? Check out the mushroom ravioli (from Cleveland's Ohio City Pasta) with an intense shiitake-cream sauce plus contrasting collard greens and pepper-jam (both from Columbus's own Harriet Gardens).