2. G. Michael's

Story by Brian Lindamood + Photos by Jodi Miller

The Chilled Cucumber-Buttermilk Soup is transcendent. Call it the Official Flavor of Summer in Columbus--the crisp and cool taste of local produce tingles on the tongue, and the creamy finish is as soothing as a lazy summer afternoon on the patio.

Oh, and it's topped with a dollop of Watershed Gin whipped cream. Yeah, you read that right: Watershed Gin whipped cream.

The soup may be one little thing on a menu full of bold flavors, but that's the point: G. Michael's does all the little things right.

Executive chef David Tetzloff keeps the menu moving through the seasons, using local ingredients whenever possible in the frequently changing lineup. The constant is the creativity Tetzloff brings to his unique combination of Midwestern and Lowcountry influences. (We should all be grateful that the chef returned from culinary school in South Carolina with a taste for pork in all its indulgent forms.)

His whimsy was on full display in a dish I enjoyed recently, part of the Duo of Fowl: Buffalo-style quail with Maytag-celery root slaw. With a knowing wink to the sports-bar favorite, and fine preparation of the delicate bird, it was as fun to eat as it was to order.

Tetzloff's innovative touches have been a G. Michael's hallmark for more than a decade. That longevity says a lot about the restaurant's excellence and its beloved place in German Village. Regulars gather around the long wooden bar in the cozy front room, while diners in the bistro-like dining room celebrate special occasions--or any occasion at all.

It's not easy to become an institution in a 200-year-old neighborhood, but this restaurant is as much a part of the landscape as the brick sidewalks leading down Third Street to Schiller Park.

G. Michael's Bistro & Bar 595 S. Third St., German Village 614-464-0575 gmichaelsbistro.com Hours: 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday

The Crave 10 1. Rigsby's 2. G. Michael's 3. Kihachi 4. Dragonfly 5. Basi Italia 6. Sage 7. Refectory 8. M 9. Alana's 10. Worthington Inn