I was going to call this article “Return to Amical,” but somehow, I have never written about this restaurant and I can’t understand why. I first learned about Amical back in 1994 after they opened up, from customers of mine that lived in Traverse City and they described it, as the best place that the locals like to eat at. I can readily understand that sentiment, because back then, all of the attention was to the new places that were taking advantage of the waterfront of the area and there is a lot of coastal land there. Amical is located right downtown, which was not as much of a focal point as it has become in the last decade or two. As the demand for better and better food has hit the area, Amical has accepted the challenge and grown into the French style bistro that it is now and as the area has become more and more affluent I can see how the locals may still frequent it often.
The restaurant was packed when we got there and it is good that we called ahead as there were nine of us to have lunch and the sheer size of our group precluded us from dining out on the street, but they did make adequate space for us inside. Thankfully we were there the day after the film festival, so it was rather quiet as all of the tourists that had invaded the area were gone, but the parking still showed signs of what the festival had wrought. One of our nephews requires special dietary restrictions, and Amical like all fine restaurants was able to handle the requests without any problems. Since there was such a crowd there I will only discuss the meals that my Bride and I had, and it was very indicative of the rest of the choices on the menu. My Bride went very “local” and ordered the Smoked Whitefish Pate which came with scallions, cream cheese, capers and crackers and a few pieces of the house bread as well, which went well with her meal. The pate was excellent, I usually refrain from ordering that most of the time, because it can be rather bland, but there was some excellent flavor, so she was very happy. As for myself I went with the Cornmeal Dusted Shrimp which was served with a sweet corn risotto, corn puree, red pepper jam and arugula. The shrimp size was more than adequate, while not Jumbo, much bigger than the norm and cooked perfectly, as there is nothing worse than over-cooked shrimp. Nobody including all the teenagers left complaining that they were still hungry, so that is a good sign.
Our first bottle of wine with lunch was Dauvergne Ranvier Vin Gourmand Cotes du Rhone 2014. If I get a chance to order and there is a Rhone wine that will always be on my radar. This is a relatively new winery that was started in 2004 by Jean-Francois Ranvier and Francois Dauvergne. The wine is a blend of seventy percent Grenache and the balance was Syrah that was aged for nine months in Stainless Steel so there was a bit more fruit forward. My Brother-in-Law chose the second bottle and it was the Trivento Amado Sur Malbec 2014 from Mendoza, Argentina. This was a much heartier wine naturally from the Malbec and there was eleven percent Bonarda and ten percent Syrah. The three different juices were aged in French Oak for eight months, then blended and aged for an additional five months in Stainless Steel and were allowed to mellow in the bottle for another five months before release. These were only two of the many wines offered on a large two-page Wine Carte. For the life of me, I can’t realize how I had forgotten to mention dining here before.