It's hard to believe, but Michael's Genuine Food & Drink is turning 8 years old in a few months, a rare feat considering that about 30 percent of restaurants are doomed to failure, according to a recent UCF study.
So what keeps Michael's Genuine relevant? Restaurateur Michael Schwartz's answer is as genuine as the food he serves: "We've always tried to stay one step ahead to keep things fresh at Genuine. It's something we think about all the time as a company and challenge each other every day to make the right decisions and be smart about our future."
Looking toward the future, Schwartz closed his restaurant for some renovations, something the chef does from time to time. The restaurant reopens today with a fresh new look and an expanded bar room, featuring an extensive raw bar menu.
Seafood items will include local stone crabs, clams from Cedar Key, and Florida lobster, but sourcing will expand to wherever the catch is best, Schwartz explains. "We've never really had great oysters in Florida, so we go where the product is best. We will continue sourcing from Island Creek for East Coast oysters, like wellfleet and moonshoal, for example; and from the West, we're continuing to get my favorite Kumamoto oysters, as well as adding a new purveyor, Hama Hama. The rotating tartare, crudo, and ceviche will feature as much local fish and seafood (royal red shrimp, for one) as possible, as usual."
The raw bar menu will be available for lunch, dinner, brunch, and the restaurant's new afternoon service. Michael's will offer an à la carte menu from 3 to 5:30 p.m. that includes a rotating selection of two East Coast and two West Coast oysters ($3 each); middleneck clams on the half-shell ($2 each), traditional shellfish platters ($65 and $130), classic shrimp cocktail with house cocktail sauce (12), seasonal stone crabs, and a rotating selection of crudos, tartares, and ceviches ($13 to $14).
Nonseafood dishes include Florida heirloom tomatoes with local basil, extra-virgin olive oil, and fleur de sel ($13); butter lettuce with orange, hazelnuts, avocado, and shallot-hazelnut vinaigrette ($13); honeycrisp apples with greens, pumpkin seeds, goat cheese, and Dijon vinaigrette ($15); crispy sweet 'n' spicy pork belly with kimchee and crushed peanuts ($15); and two wood-oven-baked pizzas -- a daily special such as cured salami with pesto, red onion, arugula, fontina, as well as heirloom tomato with pesto, roasted peppers, mozzarella, and pine nuts ($18).
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Executive pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith will feature a selection of homemade ice creams and sorbets served with a shortbread cookie ($10). Flavors will change daily.
In addition to the improvements to Michael's Genuine, Schwartz has a full dance card ahead of him. The chef is headed to Germany to open Michael's Genuine Pub as part of a partnership with Royal Caribbean and plans to open a pop-up café at Design Miami for the third year in a row. As the chef himself says: "Keeping very busy!"