Friday, February 29, 2008

M at Miranova - Columbus, Ohio.

On Friday, February 29th myself and a group of 7 other people attended dinner at M at Mranova. The eight of us were from places varying from Wisconsin to Toronto to Miami to NYC to New Jersey to right here in Columbus and we were all together for a nice dinner after the Arnold. As an experienced diner and the only person from Columbus, I suggested M and I could not have been more pleased with the food, the service, or my group's experience.

First, the decor was beautiful. With slowly changing overhead lighting as well as slashes of light emanating from the wine rack in the front combined with low light chandeliers in the back of the restaurant created an elegant yet trendy look without feeling stuffy. The staff was dressed elegantly and everything at the table appeared polished and high quality and the noise level was wonderful for conversation.As most had only arrived that day and were busy with hotel reservations, two members of the group arrived early and two late. Those who arrived early were treated to great cocktails at the bar and those arriving late were ushered to our table in the beautiful 'barrel room' without hassle.

Nate, our server, was outstanding in explaining the menu and was fantastic at knowing when to offer suggestions and when to give the diner time to decide. Nothing felt rushed at all. Additionally, as the menu frequently changes, one of our diners had noted Watermelon sushi in the past and being from New York was disappointed to discover it had recently left the menu. To my amazement, the waiter left and returned shortly to inform us that they could make the roll and that someone had been sent to pick up a Watermelon. Never have I experienced such service. I was and still am in awe.

While I cannot comment on everything on the menu, I will note that my fellow diners were particularly pleased with the 'Soup' of Roasted Tomato and Chevre Crostini, The 'Beef' of Mini Kobe Burgers w/ Carmelized Onions, and Cheddar, and the 'Poke' with Big Eye Tuna, Avocado, Ginger Soy, and Wasabi Sorbet. The Steak in a Bowl was described as 'incredible' by all three diners who experienced it and both the Surf n' Turn Roll and Watermelon Roll were enjoyed.

Very full, only 2 desserts were ordered, the coffee and donuts by one and the Bread Pudding by myself. Less highly thought of items included the Three Cones which were "too sweet," the Wild salmon which was 'average,' and the coffee and donuts which were simply coffee and warm fried pieces of apple and bread with dipping sauce.

I personally opted for a starter of the 'Crab' She-Crab Bisque with Blue Crab BLT and Basil Aioli. The dish was plated beautifully and although small, incredible in taste and texture. The soup was pureed crab and butter, plus basil and each taste melded perfectly while maintaining its originality. The Blue Crab BLT was even better than the soup, in my opinion, and the taste of Crab exploded from the tiny sandwich in the same way that the Lobster at SPAGO explodes from the Lobster BLT.

As a main, I chose the Black Cod with Lobster Ravioli, Green Asparagus, and Sweet Corn Emulsion. Plated simply, the flawlessly broiled fish was served topped with very tender and flavorful asparagus on top of a bed of 4 Lobster Ravioli and a base layer of the Corn. The flavors each persisted on their own, but also complimented one another eaten as a whole. The lobster Ravioli were as good as any I've ever experienced and the corn emulsion could be served as a dessert in a lesser restaurant.

In addition to my main, I opted for the Lobster Mashed Potatoes which were simple, utilizing a creamy potato and garlic oil, topped with warm whole chunks of lobster. Having had this dish only 2 weeks prior at Mastro's in Los Angeles, I can definitively say I preferred the M presentation, flavor, and pricetag.

For dessert, a friend and I split the Banana Bread Pudding described as 'Layered in Butterscotch Banana custard, Cashew Toffee, and Roasted Banana Gelato.' As Bread pudding is in my top two favorite desserts along with Tiramisu, I have experienced multiple presentations and will say that M's interpretation was amongst the top two or three along with the version's at Emeril's in Orlando and Lolita's Lust in Toronto. The gelato was understated yet complimented the saltiness of the saltiness of the cashews beautifully while the bread pudding was a tastefully heavy banana bread coated in a delectably smooth butterscotch custard.

All told, everyone was pleased, including those with upscale 'big city' eating experience. For myself, the meal ranked on the same level as meals at restaurants like Il Mulino in New York and Spago in Los Angeles, as well as the Emeril's Franchised restaurants in Orlando and Las Vegas, and the service was even better. If there is better dining to be had in Columbus (or anywhere in Ohio,) I've yet to find it.

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