Dine or Decline: Michael’s Fine Food and Spirits



Continuing my search for great restaurants to take parents to during family weekend, I turned to my professor for recommendations. Professor Dudrick and his wife Julie provided me with a long list of seemingly promising loca­tions. I began to narrow down the list based on a few criterions, including: a location relatively close to Colgate, well priced, a wide variety of foods and a sophisticated atmosphere that pro­vides an escape from everyday life in Hamil­ton. After some research, Michael’s Fine Food and Spirits (7672 State Route 20, Waterville) was an obvious top choice. The restaurant is located approximately 20 minutes from cam­pus at the intersection of routes 20 and 12. So I gathered my friends and visiting father to test out Michael’s Fine Food and Spirits.

As our car approached the intersection, we al­most passed the restaurant on our right. The green building is set back from the street and appears to be a moderately-sized house decorated with a few neon logo signs. It could easily be mistaken for a home throwing a massive party based on the number of cars parked outside. As we struggled to find parking, we felt relieved, knowing we had made reservations a few days before. Plus, a full house is always a good sign at a restaurant!

The interior is inviting and has a unique, el­egant Tuscan feel. The classy white tablecloths and sophisticated décor were an instant indicator that an excellent dining experience was in store. We were quickly seated and provided menus, in­cluding a list of the day’s specials. The appetizers ranged from $4 soups to $13 Vodka marinated shrimp. My dad tried the Harvest scallops, which were pan-seared and placed on a bed of apple-onion marmalade with a hint of bacon. This was received with positive reviews and set a high stan­dard for the remaining dishes. The other diners enjoyed house salads that accompanied our meals. One friend highly recommends the house dressing among the list of salad dressings.

Following our appetizers, we eagerly antici­pated the arrival of our entrees that ranged in price from $8 salads to a high of $26 Duck Noir. The majority of the meals were priced in the mid-tens and included an extensive list of salads, pastas, seafood, poultry, steak, veal and vegetarian options. After a long wait, our meals were presented and did not fail to reach our high expectations. One friend enjoyed the Blackened Chicken salad that was composed of iceberg and Romaine lettuce accented with Cajun chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, onions, bacon and egg. The salad was accom­panied by a reportedly renowned black and blue dressing. This diner confirmed the salad’s reputation. My other friend attending the meal was also pleased by the Haddock Orega­nata. The fish was covered by slices of beefsteak tomatoes, an Oreganata breadcrumb topping and a lemon-Chablis sauce. The dish was ac­companied by a side of rice pilaf and sautéed vegetables. The meal was described as being light and perfectly portioned.

My father and I chose similar dishes, an ap­parent indication of our family taste buds. He ordered the Shrimp Pappardelle, which was composed of gulf shrimp, zucchini and aspara­gus smothered in a white wine, garlic and lemon cream sauce over Pappardelle pasta. Although my father thoroughly enjoyed the dish, he was unable to finish the large portion of food, a very rare occasion. I continued the family theme and had the Shrimp and Eggplant Scampi that included sautéed shrimp, mushrooms and asparagus over perfectly crispy, fried eggplant. The meal was enhanced by the light and flavorful sherry wine and garlic scampi sauce. This plate was a creative and well-executed variation of the common shrimp scampi that I would not mind enjoying again.

Overall, we had a delightful din­ing experience. The food was fresh, well-prepared and comes highly recommended by all who attended the meal. The only minor critique of the initially ravenous attendees was the leisurely pace of the meal. This may have been attributed to the larger crowd or even an intention­ally slower paced meal that provides ample amount of time for lively conversation among good company. Once we received our entrees, everyone was in high spirits and had no complaints. Thus, I recommend taking your parents to Michael’s Fine Food and Spirits so you have plenty of time to catch up while en­joying a delicious meal. Based on my per­sonal experience, I strongly suggest mak­ing a reservation a few days in advance to avoid a lengthy wait at the bar or even the chance of missing out on a fantastic meal.