23 March, 2011

Montgomery's Finest

It feels like we've been in Montgomery FOREVER now, though in reality it has only been 5 weeks.  I have eaten at a number of different establishments and met really wonderful people everywhere I've been.  There were just a couple places left on my "must try" list and I was trying to save some of the best for last.  I found out last night, that I did!

Michael's Table is nestled in the back corner of the shopping area called "Zelda's Place".  Perfect seclusion for a nice intimate dining experience without having to watch the heavy traffic of Zelda Road should you happen to take advantage of the patio seating.  

Their name had been tossed around very little since I've been in town.  I spotted it on a "top 10" list when we first rolled into town, but when I ask people if they've heard of this gem...crickets.  This MUST be changed....  Hopefully by the end of this post, you'll agree and give them your attention.

We arrived shortly before 6 pm, when the seating begins for the dinner hour at Michael's.  They do offer a lunch menu and a Sunday brunch menu, but after reviewing their offerings on the dinner menu, dinner looked more tempting to me.  I loved how ALL of their menus were short; it gave me less time to fumble around deciding on what to indulge in.  

Because we arrived before the dinner crowd I was able to catch my shots of the inside and outside without disturbing other guests.  I try not to when they ARE there, but this assured me that I wouldn't be interfering; I was glad for that.

Rear Dining Area

Front of House
Bar Seating

Wine Hutch

Wine Selection....Bellissime!!

When I went through the menu my eyes settled on two things I KNEW I couldn't go wrong with; the Mezze and the Crostini.  If you've read any of my other reviews you know I am a HUGE addict, uh...fan of hummus.  But, even more so of crusty, warm breads and cheese.  Of course, I'm salivating just thinking about this!  My Mister and I decided to go with the crostini.  I knew from looking before I came that quite possibly no matter WHAT they said their "best dish" was, I was most likely going to order the Grillades & Grits.  The grits and greens were calling my name....I couldn't help it.  Then there was the "Alabama Caviar" caveat to it...surely it wasn't actual caviar.  But I HAD to find out!

We were pretty settled in with the Sprout.  He was having a grand time.  The dinner crowd had started to file in and the other guests were flirting and playing at him from across the room.  It is always interesting to me how many people think he's such a handsome looking fellow.  I of course am bias...  It only took a short time of this distraction before our appetizer was on its way to the table.  What a sight!
L - R  Ricotta & Tenor Tomatoes, Parmesean Gelato & Prune Mustarda,  
Gorgonzola & Roasted Fruit, Marinated Cucumber,
Alabama Goat Cheese & Poached Fig

I don't think I can adequately describe ALL the things that happened in my mouth when I tried each of these pairings, but for me I was almost intoxicated by their flavors and textures.  I am sure my eyes rolled into the back of my head for at least a couple of them.  I'll admit my Mister had a hard time with the Gorgonzola & Roasted Fruit (It tasted like a spiced apple...) combination.  But I completely understood where the chef was coming from.  They complimented each other well.  You need to be able to stand the robust flavor of the Gorgonzola however; some people have no patience for its intense, sophisticated robustness.  I do.  I thoroughly enjoyed every morsel I tried.

At the beginning of this course they also brought us a lovely basket of crusty bread with a fresh spring pesto olive oil dipping sauce.  

It was truly divine.  The warm bread hit the oil pesto and the dance began!  The heat from the bread really brought out the initial flavor of the basil and minced garlic, then at the very end, right when you are about to swallow it hits you...the mint and the hint of parmesean.  Cross your EYES fabulous!  I am fairly certain we went through two baskets of that during our meal.  Just spectacular!!

Of course with a lead in like this, heaven help my entree.  My expectations were through the roof for this dish.  Then it came....just a gorgeous plating.

Pork braised in New Orleans gravy on Romano Gouda Grits,
Table's Garlic Greens & Alabama Caviar

I tried each component of the entree by itself.  The "Alabama Caviar" was first.  Such nice and clean flavors!  I was really surprised and very pleased.  I'm not usually a fan of "bean salads" of any kind.  I never have been...but I am NOW!  The vinegar really cut through the heavy flavor of the bean and completely TRANSFORMED it into a sweet treat.  The greens, hand to God, were the BEST greens I've had since I've been in Alabama.  Most of the time they are overcooked and just...tired.  These were just done; you could taste the garlic and such a pleasant compliment to the color of the dish itself.  A nice bright addition.

Then...there were grits.  Also, the best grits I've had since I have been in Alabama.  I couldn't help but smile as I was stuffing myself silly with this food!  The pork...let me tell you about this pork.  They brought this entree out with this ginormous meat knife.  I was a little shocked...then worried.  I thought, "If I actually NEED that, I won't like this dish."  I proceeded with caution.  But I discovered quickly it was unwarranted.  I stuck only my fork in and pulled.  When I did the pork just FELL off the bone and flaked apart.  This entree from beginning to end was a total work of art!  Trying all these elements alone...then on the fork with all of them together, it didn't matter; the flavors married perfectly all together as well.  There were NO mistakes in this dish.  As I was eating my leftovers today, I searched for faults still and couldn't find any.  

My compliments to the chef!  Magnific!!  When I asked him what their "best dish" was because I wanted to get the best impression of them that I possibly could, he copped a nice smile and said "They're all great!"  I've heard that enough times to choke a horse and in most cases the comment doesn't end up holding true.  But, at Michael's Table, it DOES!  

For a nice, quiet evening in the heart of Montgomery; with food that pleases the eye, feeds the soul and tickles the tongue, Michael's is your place without question!  Don't miss visiting this fine dining establishment.  Next time I am in town, I won't be saving this for last.  Not ever again!!

Michael's Table on Urbanspoon

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