Casual dining is increasingly becoming the norm in this city, but G. Michael's Bistro & Barstays relevant thanks to chef and co-owner David Tetzloff's commitment to seasonality and the classic techniques-braising, roasting, grilling and sauteing-that he applies to his Lowcountry-inspired menu.
Don't expect a lot of agar-agar here. Rather, you can expect a near-perfect heirloom tomato salad in summer that showcases house-cured trout and wonderful tomatoes from urban farmer Mark Van Fleet, plus an intelligent balance of acid, heat (jalapeno dressing) and sweet (cornbread croutons). Or you can expect an obscenely thick, locally sourced pork chop with a decadent sauce and multiple components, like faro or pecan vinaigrette. You can, of course, expect wonderful shrimp and grits, which Tetzloff started doing 15 years ago. He had to lobby to get them on the menu and now they're everywhere, as Southern cuisine keeps migrating north.
You won't find newfangled cocktails with an emphasis on local spirits here (see Sycamore if that's your thing), but the classics are done well and some have a twist-try the excellent Pimm's Cup topped with cucumber foam. Fittingly, there's an impressive wine list, and the atmosphere is quintessentially German Village-all intimate lighting and exposed brick. A small patio, perhaps underrated in this town, boasts a lovely, old locust tree. And the service? If you walk in wearing black, a host will promptly swap out your white napkin for a black one. If you ask who made the bread, they find out without delay. It's just that kind of place.