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M Restaurant and Bar - Mmm...

2 Miranova Pl. Columbus, OH 43215 (614) 629-0000

Every Valentine’s Day, herds of romantic wannabes struggle robotically through the same list of mundane ways to dazzle their lovers. What to do, what to do? Well, here’s a two-step program with a personal guarantee attached to it: First pick up the phone and call M; then ask General Manager Gregg Sheffer to pencil you in on the hottest reservation sheet in the city. You have now arrived at sexy, and you’re welcome.

From valet to coat check, you will be cruising first class, and from the instant you step through the door, supreme service, culinary excellence and an ambiance that slices through all your senses will come alive. The bar and its tenders will get your evening going with a seductive cocktail that’s to be enjoyed beneath the bar’s soft hues that fall like rain upon you. Timid blues gently turn into passionate reds, finally ending as one perfectly blended violet. Make sure you arrive earlier than your reservation calls, for M’s lounge is an inviting experience all its own.

Professionalism seeps from every facet of the establishment. After the hostess guides you to your table, the wine list is unveiled, at which time Columbus immediately loses its “cow-town” moniker, for there are only a few wine lists in the state that can compete with M’s selection. From New Zealand to Germany to France to the California coast, M has the bottle for which you’re looking. Pepper-in an amazing by-the-glass selection and a tasty array of half-bottles, and you’ll easily see why this place is top notch—all this without having tasted a thing.

After selecting our own Love Potion #9, a 1998 Chateau Trotanoy Pomerol, we were presented with a gift from Chef Brian Parker: a par-for-the-course amuse that smelled remarkable. There is no better way to jumpstart the palate than with a three-tomato cream soup featuring vine-ripe, sun-dried and roasted tomatoes with a hint of butter. Shortly thereafter, Beth, our server, recommended a few appetizers with spectacular results. Her extensive menu knowledge and wine etiquette were second only to her ability to keep us at ease the entire night, providing everything we needed in an instant. She was truly a pro—a byproduct of being able to empathize with the other side of the table.

We decided on the Lobster Cones, which were slightly sweetened funnels of culinary genius stuffed with fresh lobster and topped with sturgeon caviar. Our friends were guided into Tuna Poke, a Hawaiian Big Island tuna that’s beautifully pressed together with an avocado wasabi sorbet—a.k.a. velvet love. The night could have ended here, and it would have been a smashing success. Ah, but it was just getting started.

The salad course soon followed, and it was then that we saw the most interesting presentation of a Caesar Salad. We’ll leave that to the imagination as we now describe the Iceberg Wedge: baby iceberg lettuce peppered with red onion and smoky bacon, topped with dry bleu cheese crumbles, and dressed with delicious cabernet buttermilk dressing. Oh, and for a sweet kick, the secret ingredient—some finely chopped California dates for a little added pizzazz. Are salad courses often overlooked? Well, if you’re the type to bypass salads to “save room” for the main course, then resist the mid-day temptation to raid the vending machines at work and enjoy this place the way it was intended.

At this juncture, our decanted bottle of Trotanoy was aromatically ready to make love to our newly-arriving entrees. The flavors of this Bordeaux blend were screaming to be released. Hints of earth and cherry dominated the aftertaste, while a creamy yet robust texture resonated on the tongue. Parker Notation scored this treat a 95 out of 100, while 1855 Notation gave it the maximum 5-glass rating. Returning to the entrees, it must be noted that the service at M is not of the tray variety, where some waiter fumbles through his or her notes to figure out who had what. This is M, where knowing what you had, how you want it and when to exactly bring it is there only priority. Several servers swarmed our table, placing our dishes in front of us with their left hands, so as to make them as least interruptive as possible. If you’re used to ordering your meals by number from a car window, this is not your spot.

One choice for the night was the highly acclaimed Duck, Duck, Goose. Imagine a Peking duck breast sliced into perfectly delicate medallions, served with a divine duck confit ravioli and foie gras, and topped with a simple-but-bold apple jus. One may hate having to get the same thing when going back to restaurants, but flavor rules us, so we’ll be hard pressed to turn this down ever again. Chef Brian clearly outdid himself with not only the almost fictional taste of the dish, but the presentation as well. Think postcard material; that’s about all one can say.

Beth also suggested the Chilean Sea Bass, and after her success with the appetizer recommendations, how could she be denied. The masterpiece was delivered piping hot with shrimp dumplings scattered throughout a savory Thai broth—a perfect compliment to this fish’s distinct and delectable flavor. The clean crunch of simmering water chestnuts completed each bite. Dinner conversations soon lulled, as we were all drawn into a dimension of culinary wonder. Buttery, light and an off-the-boat caliber freshness were some of the words uttered in between bites.

Beyond this wonderful pairing of dinners, there was surely more to come, as can be expected each and every evening at M. For, as any diner can attest, most certainly if they’ve enjoyed a date here (albeit on Valentine’s Day), dessert is not an option, but an order! We wrestled over many choices like Chocolate Lava Cake a la mode, and a caramelized vanilla brulee, but decided on two very interesting offerings: Coffee and Donuts, and a Root Beer Float. Yeah, that wasn’t a typo. Though M knows exactly how to “dress up” your romantic affair; they also know exactly how to keep it approachable and familiar. The former was a steaming cup of Coffee Semifreddo accompanied by fresh-baked banana fritters and dipping sauces, while the Root Beer Float proved to be a throwback to lovers—two straws, one mug, a glance and a giggle. Before things could get too steamy, we noticed a trio of homemade chocolate chip cookies resting on the side.

Well, now that we’ve rescued your oh-so-predictable Valentine’s Day and transformed it into the potential envy of everyone you know, remember this: we can guide you to the sexiest place in Columbus, suggest the perfect meal for the evening, and even go as far as suggesting tables 32, 55 and 90 (a.k.a. The Barrel—great for several couples), but, Cupid, the good night kiss is up to you.