Michaels: A stylish steakhouse in the heart of Indian River
By Ann Marie Tingleff
Photos by Dave Tingleff
Michael and Maggie Wilp opened Michael’s Tavern & Steakhouse in October 2018 and have already made a big splash in the centrally located area of Indian River.
Michael is a self-taught chef, with the help of many respected mentors. He was the chef de cuisine at Kaze, a Japanese gastropub, and the executive chef at Embers, both in Cincinnati, Ohio. He met Maggie in the restaurant business and realized opening their own restaurant was their combined dream.
Maggie grew up vacationing on Burt Lake, where her parents now own a home. When the opportunity was presented to them of buying a restaurant property in Indian River, a property that needed a little TLC but with big potential, they jumped on it. They found the beauty of the space and highlighted it with their own passion.
Customers walk in to a romantic wood and stone Northern Michigan beauty of a restaurant. Everything, from the bar to the fireplace with a knotted wood mantel, to the stone floor, is immaculately designed for comfort and pleasing atmosphere. Michael and Maggie had help designing and constructing this masterpiece from local businesses, M&M Plumbing, White Pines, Craig Waldron and architect Tim Fisher from Charlevoix.
Chef Michael knows every guest is looking for a unique and enjoyable experience and he holds quality food and service at the top of his list.
“Everything we put out, we care about,” he says.
Chef Michael treats every customer not as a customer, but as a guest at his table. Almost all of the offerings are made in-house, including the desserts. The 72-hour short rib served with roasted heirloom baby carrots, garlic mashed potatoes and Fustini’s 18 Year balsamic reduction is a delight and falls apart delicately with a fork. It’s more than just a dish, it is truly an experience.
The cowboy 24-ounce bone-in ribeye, charbroiled and seasoned with an in-house rub, melts in your mouth and is cooked perfectly with a crispy, tasty sear. A fresh and wonderfully balanced roasted beet salad complements the entrées with mixed greens, roasted red and yellow beets, kalamata olives, candied walnuts, goat cheese, and orange and smoked paprika vinaigrette. End your meal with one of Michael’s signature desserts, the Oreo Stuffed Donuts. A doughnut, more typical of a beignet, surrounds the cookie for a soft, sweet confection of goodness and is then dipped in cherry puree made from Friske Orchard’s local cherries.
Accompany all this deliciousness with wonderful cocktails made by Maggie. Her Hot Haven cocktail is a refreshing combination of pineapple, jalapeño, coconut and rum that leaves you tasting every flavor, especially the jalapeño, but yet not too hot on the tongue. And, her Cincinnati Old Fashion is a satisfying, back-to-tradition cocktail made perfectly with various bitters.
Along with its steakhouse menu, Michael’s also offers a tavern menu and both can be ordered from throughout the restaurant. The Tavern Burger is non-traditional in a very good way, and worth a try along with the wings, truffle fries and much more.
Michael’s can seat more than 100 guests and also offers a 60-seat patio area with live music during the warm months.
Quality, passion, service, ambience and a close drive away, Michael’s is well worth your time … enjoy!
Written By By Ane Marie Tingleff, photos by Dave Tingleff