Upon driving or travelling through Birkdale, I am regularly astonished by the affluence of its inhabitants as well as the size of their houses, making my own little village of Formby look positively deprived in comparison.
As a consequence, it's not often that I dine there, choosing instead to stick to the cheaper (but limited) restaurants in Formby generally. However, thanks to a recent special occasion, I was able to sample the delights of Michael's in Birkdale village.
Unlike the myriad of Italian restaurants in Formby, Michael's offers a significantly more sophisticated menu for its diners - think pear and goat cheese salad, braised beef with shallots and horseradish mash. It's clear from their menu alone that this provides quite a step up in quality and complexity. The quality in taste as well as sophistication is there to be tasted, with their food brilliantly flavoured.
Despite the sophisticated and high-class cuisine on offer, Michael's still manages to maintain a casual yet intimate atmosphere, which is complimented well by staff that are friendly and chatty, ensuring that every diner is treated well.
Michael's also offers various deals every month, with the current one being 2 courses for less than fourteen pounds which, considering the sheer quality of their food, is almost too good to be true.
Birkdale. Oh, the amount of times I've driven through here with a parental unit on trips back to Southport and been flabbergasted by the wealth on display. The houses are like something out of an American family movie. The golf courses nearby are impressive. It's all about affluence in these suburbs. I may not be able to afford to live here, but as a treat I can afford to eat here.
Surprisingly for such a rich suburb, this restaurant offers minimum fuss and it doesn't do the annoying ostentatious cordon bleu nouveau cuisine thing. It's happily down to earth. The decor is simple and rustic, there are approximately 28 covers and the whole thing manages to remain intimate and airy at the same. The chef harbours huge credentials, a Mr Michael Wichmann after whom the restaurant is named, and he's worked at places with more accredited stars than Hollywood Boulevard.
Needless to say, everything here is gorgeous. The scallops are easily the best I've ever tasted, the introductory bread comes with a red pepper and herb dip which is as moreish as can be, and the menu as a whole is an interesting mix of flavours, cuisines and origins - Modern European would be the ideal catch-all phrase. It's massively dependent on the seasons and changes accordingly, so it's always a surprise, but compromises can indeed be made for dietary needs. The vegetable accompaniments aren't mere supporting actors, they're fellow stars as well, integrated into the dishes with such precision it makes me feel guilty every time I steam some broccoli and throw it on the side of my salmon steak. Oh dear.
As for dessert, the chocolate fondant here is a chocoholic's wet dream. Thankfully a lot of the puddings remain fairly traditional here without all the added ingredients you come to expect with Modern European that can often ruin the delightful simplicity of a dish. The food here is flavoursome and rich. It feels very indulgent, and has all the hallmarks of a delicious and deserved treat. Spoil yourself at this place. I know I will again.
If you're reading this - you know who you are - then read it as a promise to one day take you here. You'll love it.
You can wear one of your nice dresses (though I'm still of the opinion that all of your dresses are nice) and I'll make an effort to scrub-up too - for I scrub up well - and just as the sun's setting we'll make our way to Michael's in Birkdale.
Your eyes will sparkle as you take in the tasteful elegance of your surroundings. You'll do that thing you do where you make small pained noises whilst considering the wealth of choice on the menu - for it all looks so good - and you'll do your winces of supreme appreciation as you realise that every effort has been put into even the complimentary bread.
You'll sigh the sigh of the finally sated as you savour every mouthful of your dessert which, to you, tastes heaven sent - and that night, you and I will feel divine.
You'll love it.
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