It’s an ambitious French food establishment that offers “white-tablecloth service,” a candlelight atmosphere, and a well-trained staff of young servers in formal black and white uniforms. MJs serves seafood, poultry, and plentiful steaks as well as a good selection of french favorites such as Escargots, Truffle Fries, and Baked Brie. But it’s really so much more…
Although the restaurant doesn’t have an in-house brewery, which is part of the standard definition of a “brasserie”, it does offer a good selection of beers, an ample wine list, and a large number of hand-crafted cocktails. The menu is presented in a traditional format with appetizers, salads, and entrées – but it also has a steakhouse section with multiple cuts of meat and “à la carte” accompaniments.
Each time we visit MJ’s, we like to start with a cocktail while we learn about their weekly specials and explore the rest of the menu. My favorite is The French 75 which consists of Bombay Gin, Grand Marnier, champagne, lemon juice, and simple syrup.
I have to admit that I like complicated drinks, especially if they’re on the sweet side. This one is pretty neutral in that respect. My friend is an Old Fashioned enthusiast and the one at MJ’s is one of his favorites.
The chef always offers an Amuse Bouche, or single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre, to start your meal. On one visit we had Butternut Squash & Herbs soup to introduce us to the chef’s style. It truly creates anticipation for the delicious courses to follow.
Onto appetizers, they usually have some variation of the brie cheese appetizer and this one was Baked Brie with Candied Pecans, Raspberries & Toast. Another option that we’ve tasted are the Herbs de Provence Roasted Garlic, Extra Virgin Olive oil & Balsamic Glacé – an amazing dipping oil for bread.
MJs menu also features Baked French Escargot in garlic butter sauce, Parmesan, and toast; Blackened Jumbo Shrimp broiled with lemon, butter, herbs & garlic sauce, and a few others. If you are more of a salad person for your second course, please try the The Dirty Caesar – it tastes much like a Dirty Martini. The crispy romaine lettuce is served with Gorgonzola blue cheese, Spanish Manzanilla olives, hard-boiled egg, parmesan cheese, garlic roasted croutons & “Dirty” caesar vinaigrette. I’m sure there’s a bit of olive juice in that potion. It’s very tasty and shareable.
On one visit they were offering a Chicken Cordon Bleu as a special. This was my selection and it was an excellent one. The chicken was tender with a good amount of cheese oozing out when you sliced into it and ham to give a salty kick to the bite. I also appreciated that it was a fairly large portion because I had plenty to enjoy a second time. We’ve enjoyed the Delmonico Ribeye, finished with house garlic & herb butter, served in 12 oz., 14 oz., and 16 oz. portions; a delicious seafood dish is the Potato Crusted Alaskan Cod Fish, pan-fried and served Piccata style in my order. You can order it in a lemon butter sauce or a port wine reduction as well.
Now, every good steakhouse typically has a signature burger. The Filet Mignon Cheeseburger is at the top of the list. I went all the way and ordered the Filet Mignon Bacon Bleu Burger, which includes a thick patty of hand-packed ground beef tenderloin and ribeye, topped with gorgonzola blue cheese, applewood smoked bacon, and pickles. I love onion rings so I had those as my side. It’s easy to see why this is plated open-faced, as it looks incredible with all the trimmings. You may have a bit of difficulty getting your mouth around this big bite but give it a try! Regardless of how you eat it, make sure you take a bite of that patty before you put it all together.
In my world, no meal ends without dessert. MJ’s offers a few good ones for you to choose from. Some of my favorites are the Chocolate Lava Cake, a dark chocolate cake filled with a dark chocolate truffle Ganache, finished with dark chocolate sauce and a scoop of creamy vanilla Ice cream or the Apple Strudel à la Mode (a special on that particular evening)
You may also want to try the Flourless Chocolate Cake – a chocolate ganache cake with whipped cream and raspberries. All of them will make for a sweet ending to your dinner. If you’re an enthusiast of dessert wines as I am, they have a full list including 20 yr. Tawny Port wine. You can also order an Espresso Martini handcrafted at the bar.
From the great food to the personable and meticulous service, an evening at MJs is a reflection of the experience of the Chef and Owner Michael Auer, and the training of his staff. After gaining expertise and notoriety at places like the Ritz-Carlton and Brasserie Le Coze in Atlanta, he was selected to work at the James Beard House in New York at age 26. He opened Michael John’s in 2006.
Michael John’s is located at the intersection of Manatee Avenue East and the Braden River bridge – at 1040 Carlton Arms Boulevard Bradenton, FL 34208. They’re open Monday through Thursday from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm and Friday and Saturday from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Visit MichaelJohnsRestaurant.com to learn more.