Chef Michael
CARROLWOOD
– A new restaurant stakes its claim">

Chef Michael
CARROLWOOD
– A new restaurant stakes its claim, aiming to win diners with a personal touch.

 By JUDY SILVERSTEIN GRAY

Tribune correspondent

 For those in search of a dining experience where the food is unique, Michael’s Grill is worth a visit.

 Located in the Main Street Shopping center, 11720 N. Dale Mabry Highway, the latest addition to the area dining scene occupies the space vacated by Tacqueria Quentzacoatl earlier this year.

“This was an ideal restaurant location for us, said co-owner Andrea Reilly. “We wanted to create a comfortable fine dining atmosphere with an upscale feel.”

 Reilly and her husband, Michael, who does double duty as co-owner and chef, are well known to local diners.

Michael Reilly served as manager and worked in menu development at Shells for about 11 years. While there, he helped transform Parent-Teacher Association dinners into an unforgettable gastronomic experience.

 His new bistro, which opened five weeks ago, caters to a more intimate crowd. With ten tables inside, and six seats at the bar where diners can oversee food preparation, Reilly has sought to create a cozier atmosphere.

 There are an additional four tables located outside for those who smoke, or prefer al fresco dining.

 Michael Reilly’s experience in the food business spans 27 years, including a stint at Monty Trainer’s in Coconut Grove.

 The lunch menu starts at $4.99 and offers a variety of pasta dishes, sandwiches, soups, quiche and ratatouille.

 For meat lovers, there’s the Reilly version of a Philly steak and cheese. Other sandwiches are bursting with sun-dried tomatoes, portabella mushrooms, chicken, roast beef and turkey.

Fresh bread promises to refresh your memory of what homemade means.

Accompanying warm pillows of rosemary focaccia bread is a ramekin of Reilly’s almost famous garlic and herb butter that melts in your mouth.

It’s Reilly’s signature soups that encourage the wait staff to wax on about his epicurean skills.

Cusine at Michaels

A creamy She-crab soup has a hint of brandy and a delicate spice. His version of gumbo is a clear vegetable broth with fresh vegetables, crab, and a peppery though not overwhelming, taste

A staple on the menu is his French onion soup, topped with bread and oozing with cheese. Other soup specials will change daily.

A variety of salads, served with homemade croutons, are available along with fresh vegetables side dishes. Vegetarians can select from a variety of pasta dishes.

“Red, White and you,” a signature pasta dish, incorporates seafood into the presentation. The outer portion of the pasta has a traditional thick red sauce, while the interior has a lighter, wine-based sauce.

Meals are prepared at a stainless steel cooking area located behind the bar. “it allows me to be in the center of things.” Reilly said.

He’s assembled an attentive staff of 12 with whom he has previously worked. Michael’s Grill offers an impressive wine list – 33 choices from six countries – with 18 different types of beer and champagne.

“it’s a delight to see a restaurant of this quality in the Carrolwood area instead of another sports bar, fern bar or chain.” said Robert Brandenburg of Lake Magdalene.

His wife, Alice Perrin agreed. “This spot has good potential.”

The dinner menu offers a variety of appetizers from crab cakes to escargot. Pasta, seafood and meats are offered, as are a variety of soups. Prices for entrees start at $12.99 and range to $18.99. Twin filet mignons, snapper topped with crab meat and daily specials are featured. Portions are generous and can easily feed two.

Dessert is homemade and often varies. An example: chocolate crème brulee with a raspberry coulis, served with fresh raspberries and blackberries. Also, amaretto cheesecake and baked Alaska.