Michael's at the Gallery was a delightful discovery in Todos Santos with a unique restaurant environment—mixing gallery and eating venue, a unique restaurant concept, and of course, their unique food offering.
Environment: It’s a bit of a challenge to find, as you need to walk through the gallery and into a sculpture garden before finding the open-air kitchen on the left and the lovely out-door, candle lit dining tables on your right. The other unique thing about Michael’s is that it is only open three nights on the weekend (Thursday-Saturday). So, if you’re in town, you must make a reservation in order to ensure a charming culinary evening.
On the night we were there, it was a bit cool, so be sure to take a sweater or wrap if it is to be on the cooler side. Still, the environment is enchanting with subtle lighting and a view of the open kitchen.
The Concept: Opened in late 2008, the idea of serving great food was not a new one for Michael and Pate Cope. They were known for hosting large, self-catered dinner parties in their home. Receiving an invitation to the Cope house meant that you were in for a gastronomic treat. Luckily, the public now gets a chance to sample their delectable delights.
It is true genius to only be open for a few evenings a week. It allows the Copes to concentrate on their successful art business, the Galer'a de Todos Santos, which is located on a corner of the historic Todos Santos Inn. At the same time, it limits the number of customers they can serve. This makes total sense when you realize that Michael is the executive chef with Pat acting as sous chef. All of the cooking is done by the energetic and flamboyant Michael. He is entertaining to watch as he concentrates on his creations in the kitchen while being surrounded by his creations in his gallery.
The Food: Although this is a popular place for resident expats to come for a night out in Todos Santos, it’s a lovely Asian-inspired restaurant in which tourists will find a nice change of pace from the other offerings in the town.
Our first course was Tuna Poke. It had just the right amount of marinade so that the flavor of the tuna was enhanced instead of masked. Next was a Vietnamese Crab Cake. Normally I don’t like crab cakes due to more ‘filling’ than crab in the cake. But these were all crab and the crisp exterior gave the crab cake a nice texture element. A secret ingredient of Kaffir leaves gave the crab cake a hint of freshness and citrus. Finally I had the Filet Mignon with Shiitake Cream Sauce. The meat was cooked flawlessly and the rich shiitake cream sauce didn’t overpower the filet. The sauce was served in such a way that if you didn’t want the sauce, you could easily eat just the meat, which was flavorful and melted in my mouth.
To end the meal, Pat’s famous Mini Chocolate Cupcake were the perfect ‘icing on the cake’.
There were several dishes I wanted to try: Szechwan Shrimp or Scallops—their most requested dish. The Fish-of-the-Day wok tossed in Chinese black bean sauce is raved about by the locals. Finally, the Mu Shu Pork I was dying to try. The complexity of making the Mu Shu Pork is a day-long event, but I hear it is worth ordering; again and again.
Michal’s makes use of all your senses in the most delightful way. A small restaurant in an intimate setting with the most personal of service and the most delicious, palate teasing food; what more could you ask for?
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