24 Small Plates in 24 Hours: Dinner
6:10 p.m.: Bar at G. Michael's
Here's where things get real. As I mentioned earlier, G. Michael's chef David Tetzloff does not skimp on the size of his small plates. Any other day of the year, I really appreciate that. Not this time.
I already know the German Village restaurant's signature dish, Shrimp and Grits, is too heavy for tonight. So we choose five other small plates for dinner-and each comes out of the kitchen bigger than the last.
Roasted Brussels sprouts ($9) swim in a rich gruyere cream sauce, dotted with sliced almonds and bits of pancetta. An oyster gratin ($11) resembles a savory creme brulee, its provolone topping torched until it caramelizes.
A lovely and delicate buttermilk-fried quail ($10) rests on what seems like an impossibly large pile of bacon-braised red cabbage, all of it drizzled in a honey-balsamic glaze.
Pork belly ($8) is my favorite of the bunch-one thick slice of perfectly braised pork sided with neat parsnip home fries and topped in a creamy cider vinaigrette.
And then there's the Calamari Fritti ($9). It's tasty, no doubt. Squid pieces are roasted rather than fried, served in a lime-cilantro-honey glaze. But the serving size is massive; a huge pile that'd be more appropriate for a table of six. I start to think this dish might be the one that breaks me.
A friend spots us midway through the calamari.
"Is everything alright?" she asks. "You guys look so serious!"
Indeed. It's a funny thing to be chewing so joylessly, especially at a restaurant that's one of my very favorites in town. We explain our 24-plates mission.
"Oh," she says, nodding. Then, after a pause, "Why?"
That does seem like a pertinent question right about now.
Meanwhile, on Instagram, people are really starting to get into this challenge. The pictures of the G. Michael's dishes, in particular, are making people really hungry. I consider it a win.
6:45 p.m.: Bar at G. Michael's
We finish the calamari heap. This feels like an epic accomplishment. There are cheers and fist pumps.
On the way out, we stop to say goodbye to our friend and tell her we have three more restaurants to go. She looks horrified.