The recently opened Michelson & Morley located in the Tinkham Veale University Center (“the Tink”) offers both lunch and dinner in an upscale bistro setting. The restaurant’s namesake celebrates the Nobel Prize in Physics (1907) winning experiments performed in 1887 by Albert Michelson and Edward Morley at Case School of Applied Science and Western Reserve College, respectively (what is now CWRU). At the time, it was hypothesized that light must travel through a medium (thought to be “aether”) much like sound waves travel through air or water. Michelson and Morley devised experiments to measure or detect the relative motion of matter through a stationary “aether wind,” but data from the experiments failed to support the existence of this medium. These experiments laid the foundation for Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity, the relationship between space and time. The negative (!) results from their experiments were published in the American Journal of Science, now American’s longest-running scientific journal (published continuously since 1818!). Also of note is the fact that Dr. Michelson was the first American to receive a Nobel Prize in the sciences.
But, enough with the history lesson in science---on with the food! I first dined here with colleague and good friend Will Bush in late summer/early fall 2014 soon after the bistro opened. Both of us were impressed by the ambiance (we would not be ashamed to do some recruiting or guest speaker lunches here!) AND the food. I remember I had a soup (chicken and kale soup) and the braised beef tacos (I accidentally put in two orders and ended up with four tacos), and I really was impressed with the flavors of both.
Unfortunately, my subsequent visits have not been as impressive. I returned with my husband Steve and my mom Graciela December 11th for a pre-concert dinner. The bistro has recently begun advertising a new fall/winter menu and prix fixe meal, the latter to attract the pre-concert crowd since Severance Hall is just steps away from the Tinkham. The prix fixe menu is packaged from the regular menu and includes a choice of a snack, a small plate, an entrée, and a dessert. I had the house-smoked trout cake, the green salad, and the herb-roasted chicken while Steve ordered the skordalia, the mixed beets salad, and the quinoa-stuffed peppers. Mom is always more complicated because she’s lactose intolerant. I have come to appreciate that much can be learned about the quality of the server and restaurant when dealing with special diets. In this case, M&M barely passed. The server was obviously very young (probably a CWRU undergraduate) and didn’t know what we were talking about (a later blog post will deal with the genetics of lactose intolerance and its consequences). If you ever find yourself in this situation, just say the words “allergic to milk, cheese, and butter.” Once the server understood what Mom couldn’t have, she struggled to come up with options that Mom could have, and this struggle resulted in an awkward side of soup instead of the sweet potato gnocchi that was supposed to be served with the entrée chicken. Mom didn’t seem to mind at all and actually enjoyed her meal. I found my chicken to be very dry and overcooked, and I downright felt sorry for Steve when his vegan dish arrived at the table. I can’t remember the dessert, but I seem to remember there was no choice which meant Mom couldn’t eat hers. Overall, my dinner reminded me of “fine dining” in business class on an overseas flight: we all know these meals are pre-made and microwaved prior to serving. On the bright side, M&M has a nice little bar with a good selection of cocktails (not bad!), wine, and beer. Just beware that if you order a zinfandel, you might have to clarify that you want the red one.
My most recent visit was today for lunch again with Will Bush. I was hoping to see the tacos on the menu, but alas they have been removed for the winter (let’s hope they bring them back for the spring). I ordered the house-made fennel sausage flatbread and Will had the cubano sandwich. Will seemed to really enjoy his cubano (que bueno!). My flatbread was pretty good, but not close to the best I have had here or in other places. Overall, I think M&M is a good, elegant stop for lunch and perhaps for happy hour/cocktails after work. But, I don’t think you’ll be seeing Steve and me there for dinner any time soon.