Friday, January 28, 2011

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Michael IS Back!

Michael Verace IS back!
Some may argue that Michael has been here all along, and he has.  Over the last few years, we have seen him in several restaurants around town. But, in my humble opinion, we haven't seen "vintage" Michael in his last few venues!

Fortunately, for longtime Rockfordians (and newcomers), Michael has brought his passion, charm and restaurant magic back!  He has put everything on the table this time, and his expert hand definitely shines thru!

When I think of "vintage" Michael, I think BP.....before Perryville.  I attended some wonderful functions at Michael's on Perryville, but some of my fondest dining memories go back to before Perryville to Five Points, an intimate, inviting space, that always seemed warm and welcoming....I feel that same energy at Michael's new place, Michael's On State!

My Friday night dining group threw Michael a curve ball on Friday morning.....we called looking for a reservation for 14 at 7:30.....that's PRIME dining time on a Friday night.  The dining group gets together every Friday night, we don't actually know how many people will be joining us until we assemble at the restaurant (a restaurant's nightmare)!  BUT, getting back to the reservation....the person who answered the phone at Michael's was hesitant.....14 people at the height of Friday night?  Could it be done?


When we get to the restaurant, we assemble in the bar to start our evening.  AND, guess what, there are peanuts on the bar!  Michael had the guts (or foresight) to keep the peanut theme from The Ground Round (the building's original occupant)!  It's a fine line when you think of keeping an iconic piece of the past from a former restaurant, or chucking it all and starting over.  I love that Michael is secure enough to take a small bit of The Ground Round and keep it in the new place!

That isn't all that is old in the New Michael's....Mature (OK, one more time....NOT old) Rockfordians can take a walk back in time and look at the past, as they peruse the photographs of  a younger city....blown up (not exploded....made BIG), so we don't have to squint!  There is other beautiful artwork as well, ask Michael if you are interested!

As I was saying earlier, we assemble in the bar,

and assemble,

and assemble,

and assemble.....

We are never quite sure how many there will be until Friday night.....
there ended up being 20 of us!  OH MY! Great for us!  I love my friends!  BUT, what is Michael going to think?

Michael was calm, cool and collected!  His staff reflected his professionalism and they created the perfect setting of four tables for us to sit!

The waitress was with us quickly, asked for our drink order, told us the specials, disappeared and reappeared with our drinks unbelievably fast!  At our table, we ordered Chicken Marsala, Parmesan Encrusted Tilapia (Chef Raul's feature), New York Strip, Lobster Tail and Salmon.

The meal was served quickly and hot!  It was marvelous!  The entrĂ©es were served properly, the lobster was tender, the strip was prepared perfectly to order, the tilapia was crispy on the top and the fish was flaky and moist and the salmon was moist and flavorful.  The chicken breast was a little dry, but the incredible Marsala sauce made up for it.  I know I'm an oddity, but I would like a few more veggies on my plate.

The one side dish that really stood out was the Garlic Butter Linguini....pasta cooked perfectly, the sauce was buttery and not oily and perfectly flavored with garlic and a hint of lemon!  That might be dinner next time....or maybe scallops or shrimp or a pork chop or a burger or reuben....the menu is diverse!  EVERYONE in your party will find something to like on Michael's menu....some old favorites and Chef Raul's specials make this menu incredible!

I hope you give Michael's on State a try in the very near future, I know you will be happy with your decision!  The restaurant is easy to get to and easy to get in and out on State Street!  Hurry in for lunch or dinner and tell Michael how happy I was with our meal!

Michaels On State, 4002 East State Street, Rockford, IL  61108    815-708-6306

Additional Info:  Michael's prices are realistic!  Appetizers start at $3.00; Sandwiches, Salads and Burgers start at $6.49; EntrĂ©es start at $6.49 at lunch and $8.49 at dinner!

Dining Date:  January 14, 2011

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