“Know your roots” is a phrase Michael Schwartz lives by. It’s also one of the reasons why Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink is throwing it back to the original menu. In honor of his flagship's tenth anniversary, the chef/restaurateur is bringing back the classics that started it all. Now through March 13, guests can go back in time when Schwartz remembers risking it all. “It's essential to evolving this place in the right way," he admits. "It’s what inspired us in the beginning.”
The menu is notorious for changing periodically. “It's hysterical — we took off the whole wood-oven-roasted chicken, and people were up in arms!" he says. "'How could you take off my chicken?!' My answer for them is, well, would you keep an item on the menu that you were selling nine of a week? That's crazy talk.”
The dish rotation also gives guests an opportunity to try new things. “Everything is always on the table for banishment," Schwartz says. "It's the only way.”
In addition to the menu comeback, chef Tim Piazza is also returning to Michael's Genuine. He started as a sous-chef a year ago, helped Schwartz open Fi'lia, and is returning to Michael's as chef de cuisine. The biggest shift for him has been the size of working spaces. Piazza appreciates a smaller kitchen and says, “The size limitations forces us to be smart and make great things out of nothing.”
Piazza's favorite returning dish is the falafel. Schwartz, on the other hand, is excited to showcase wood-oven-roasted onions stuffed with lamb and apricots. “What's more old-school and satisfying than seeing the whole vegetable on the plate, that's been stuffed by hand and roasted next to the fire?” Schwartz says.
Other comebacks are chicken liver crostini with caramelized onions ($8); butter lettuce salad with orange, hazelnuts, avocado, shallot and hazelnut vinaigrette ($11); rock shrimp and chorizo pizza ($19); short-rib sugo rigatoni with homemade ricotta and lemon zest ($20); and roast pork shoulder with Anson Mills grits, pickled onions, and parsley sauce ($23).
Another highlight of the anniversary celebration will be an extended happy hour, beginning Tuesday, March 14. For the first time, oysters will be half-priced, and classic bar snacks will be available for an extended period, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday at the bar only. Classic treats include shrimp toast bánh mì ($3.50), crispy hominy with chile and lime ($3.50), and crispy pig ears ($4). Beer, wine, and cocktails such as the Carbarete — Aperol, St-Germain, watermelon, sparkling wine, and orange bitters — will also be half-priced.
Schwartz wanted to extend happy hour because he realized 6 p.m. was too early for people finishing work, and he didn’t want to rush bar guests before last call. He also pointed out it's a natural transition into dinner, which he wants to encourage.
The classic dishes will be noted on the restaurant’s menus and available à la carte during the throwback celebration until Monday, March 13. To make reservations, call 305-573-5550 or email email@example.com.