When my mother in-law offered to watch our baby on Christmas Eve, we knew we had to take advantage of that. We haven’t gone out without our sweet baby girl since she was born, and we both felt confident enough to have out first evening away from her. Luckily, the place we wanted to check out was only 2 miles away from home. Michaels On Naples was the perfect spot to have our date night. To top it off, they were offering an amazing Prix-Fixe menu with wine pairing. Wine? Yes please!
The ambiance was absolutely amazing. It had a ‘cozy upscale’ vibe. Our reservation was set up at the bar, which had really large, and comfortable seats. So much better than the typical bar chair / stool that you’d expect! It was comfortable and more importantly, we were close to the wine, so our glasses were never empty. Our cups runneth over, all night!
Now, about our meal. When we sat down we were immediately greeted with a light caviar dish accompanied by a refreshing brut. This got us right into the mood and ready for a culinary journey.
While we waited for the next course to arrive we munched on the delicious bread. We tried to avoid the bread but the balsamic and olive oil made it impossible! The second course (Antipasti) arrived! It was a mushroom soup with a poached egg and shaved black truffle, along with a plate of thinly sliced scallops, blood orange and arugula. Both dishes were paired perfectly, especially the scallops which had an amazing Cantine Pellegrina ’16 to compliment the fruity tones. Our sever and bartender were a dynamic duo and did a sensational job explaining the menu and making sure we were happy. We were seated next to some amazing couples that added to the enjoyable experience by sharing some fun conversations with us. We try to sit in communal areas as much as possible. We’ve met some super interesting people, most of the time older couples who impart wisdom that we wouldn’t normally get when dining out at our own table. I encourage you to sit at a communal table at your next dinner, you never know who you might meet!
Next up was our favorite dish, Pasta. The two options were Ravioli and Gnocchi. For 4/5 courses, there were two options to choose from, so Tasha and I ordered each option, so we could try everything. It was a win win situation for us. This course was amazing (as they all were) and the Ravioli that we had was way different than any ravioli we have tried in the past. It was a ‘Gualtiero Marchesi’ ravioli which is not the traditionally smaller, sealed-up pocket of pasta love that we are all familiar with. This ravioli was two larger squares of pasta, not sealed but more like a bed with a blanket over it. The bed filled with lobster, shrimp, clams and mussels and it was awesome. It wasn’t what I expected, but I wasn’t disappointed at all. But, let me tell you something, the Gnocchi— It. Took. The. Cake. This dish….THIS dish, was something special. It was flavorful and took me on a journey. My tastebuds were dancing with every bite, I didn’t want it to end. Tasha and I fought over this one, and being the gentleman I am, I let it end in a 51/49 tie, in my favor. (I snuck in an extra bite) Picture this, Potato gnocchetti, braised wild boar ragu, tuscan kale and pecorino cheese. I feel like I can’t describe this dish in a way that will paint you the proper picture and an actual picture wouldn’t do it complete justice, but trust me on this, it was death row approved.
On to the next course, the main course. Talk about a tough act to follow with that braised wild boar spectacle. This course had three options, and we politely asked if we could try all of them, which they allowed. We had a cedar roasted fluke, roasted duck breast, and braised short rib. Quick takeaway from Michaels, they know how to cook a braised dish. The short rib and the gnocchi were our two favorites by a long shot, and this was with all amazing food, nothing missed the mark. Again, Tasha and I fought to see who would get the majority of the short rib, this time she won because she hasn’t been eating fish. I took down that whole fluke dish, and we shared the rest.
As you can see, everything looked amazing. Not only did everything come out looking beautiful and straight from a cookbook, it tasted even better. Each dish had such robust flavors that got accentuated by the wine pairing to create the ultimate dining experience. We couldn’t believe how tender the duck was, and this was Tasha’s first time trying duck so it was perfect for her. She absolutely loved it. She had some reservations about trying the duck (she is a little less adventurous compared to me) but was pleasantly surprised with how much she enjoyed it. At this point we were stuffed to the gills, and feeling overwhelmingly happy from the wine and amazing food. The final course was on its way out, and we obviously had a little extra room for dessert.
We had two options coming out, Panna Cotta, and a traditional Italian dessert called Panforte. The panforte was something neither of us have tried, and the bartender made a suggestion that we eat it with some of their Italian coffee. It was an extremely rich, and chewy dessert that is what I guess the equivalent to a christmas fruitcake, for Italians. The bartender was spot on, dipping the Panforte in my coffee was perfect. It countered the sweetness and warmed it making it less chewy, and a lot easier to eat. I loved it. Each dish was paired with sweeter dessert wine, one of which was a sparkling red that was outstanding.
To sum the evening up; beautiful. It was the perfect Christmas Eve date night. This is something we would love to do more often, and the wonderful thing about Michaels is they host a chefs dinner once a month, and always have monthly events listed on their website. The next Prix-Fixe dinner will be for Valentines Day, and i’m sure it will be just as lovely as the Christmas Eve dinner. Don’t miss out and make sure you grab tickets soon as you can (If its not already sold out).
Keep it classy, Long Beach