I've been reading here about Mike's ever since it opened, but never got around to shlepping up to the UWS to try it. Tonight it's my birthday, so I decided to indulge myself, and finally see what the hype's about.
I had the 5-course tasting menu, with 3 paired wines. First came the gnocchi with duck sausage that many posters here have written about. Then a beetroot salad with walnuts and oranges; NOT something I'd have ordered, but the point of a tasting menu is to be adventurous and try things that are a bit different. This was followed by the soup of the day, a lentil soup with cumin; cumin is good in just about any soup, and it certainly was in this one. The main course was an excellent filet steak; I'm not generally a steak fan, and left to my own devices would have ordered chicken or fish, but I'm glad I had this one.
Dessert was a banana tempura; again, I'm chalking it up to being adventurous. It was good, and not something I'd ever have ordered on my own. The wines were Italian, and pretty good too, especially a Cantina Gabriele Pinot Grigio; must look out for that one. Then Mike came out to meet me, and when he heard that it was my birthday he brought over an after-dinner drink, involving port, cognac, and an ingredient which he kept secret until after I'd tasted it, so I will too.
And I must mention the service. I'm used to NYC kosher restaurants, where service consists of someone taking your order and bringing your food, and soon after making one ritual inquiry as to whether everything is OK, after which you never see them again until it's time to take the plate away. If they're good, your water cup gets filled soon after it becomes empty; if they're not so good, you can wait. I always wonder what on earth they expect a tip for, and why the tip should vary with the price of the food, when the service is in exactly the same minimalist style. My usual practise is therefore to tip a flat $2. So when I see actual service, I think "so THAT'S what tips are for", and gladly pay. The service tonight was way more than I'm used to, and so was the tip.
All in all, a good time was had by all, namely me. On Sunday I'm taking about 18 people to Island Grill. I have hopes that it will be a reasonable experience, and not too expensive (no way was I taking them all to Mike's!)
I'll have to think up another occasion to repeat the trip sometime.