Josh Woodward rates this 10 / 10:
Findlay now has an actual hip restaurant. This place oozes with mid-century style. It's beautiful in its own very odd way. Each month has a new menu, with a few starter course options, a few salad/soup course options, and a few entree options.
They started us off with some small free appetizers - a beef carpaccio mixture on top of a small cracker, and a soup with fennel. Then came these wonderful warm rolls - nicely seasoned and packed with raw flour on the outside. Rooted in tradition, but a really unique take.
The food was fascinating. The sweet potato soup was rich and flavorful. The spinach agnolotti was the one dish I probably wouldn't get again - extremely interesting, but the novelty of the foamy citrus sauce died off by the end of the dish. The butternut squash and spinach fettucini was wonderful. The creamy texture of the wilted spinach with the squash puree was divine, and they even used squash in the fresh pasta dough. And the monkfish was lovely - very rich and sweet, with an off-the-chart sour orange zest and olive topping that actually worked.
For dessert, I had the butternut squash crème brulée with crème fraiche ice cream and cranberry biscotti. It was so good! The squash actually worked amazingly well, and the crème fraiche ice cream was one of those "why didn't I think of that?" moments.
The presentation of the food was beautiful. None of this two-foot-high tower stuff; just artfully arranged simplicity.
The quality of the service was the best I've ever had in Findlay, and one of the best anywhere. Right from the start, with reservations, they asked if anyone had dietary restrictions or food allergies. When we arrived, the chef/owner came out to introduce himself and to let Sara know that if none of the vegetarian options on the menu sounded good, he could prepare something special. Throughout the night, there was very attentive but not suffocating service. Even the greeter at the front door saw when tables were finishing dinner, and headed upstairs to get their coats out of check, waiting patiently.
The prices are quite good for food of this quality. Two appetizers, two entrées and one dessert came out to $54 including tip. They don't currently have a liquor license, but you can BYOB for no corkage until they get that in place. (Update: they've got their license)
Don't expect fettucini alfredo on the menu here. This is experimental cuisine, and there will be hits and misses. I'm giving a 9/10 for now, but this could easily become a perfect 10 as they get into the groove. I hope they're able to stay afloat without dumbing down their menu for small-town Ohio tastes. A rack of ribs is always good, but it's nice to be able to eat dangerously now and then.
Update, Jan 2007: Made it back again, and it was even better. Highlights were a free appetizer (a rye cracker with goat cheese, chicken and figs) and the onion soup. It was a thick and rich broth poured on top of a "63 degree egg" - soft "boiled" at a low temperature, leaving a very creamy texture. The scallop entrée was delicious, though not as inventive as some of their other food. Also thumbs up on the pear salad. And the ending pieces of fresh caramel with sea salt and paprika will make you want to never see a red-and-white mint in a plastic wrapper again. The prices crept up a little on the entrées since the first month, but it's still a worthwhile splurge. I should also note that it's next to impossible to get in on a weekend without reservations made well in advance, but we were the only ones there on a Monday night.
Update, Feb 2007: Awesome menu this month. They now have a few more entrée choices, including some at lower prices. The appetizer with shrimp and radicchio had strong bitter, sweet, sour and salty things going on in perfect balance. The gnocchi was also really good. For the entrées, the fettucini with hazelnuts and acorn squash was rich and lovely. And the chicken with blood orange and carrots was crazy good. It was the single most tender and juicy chicken I've ever tasted. The skin was crispy and flavorful, and the juice was unreal. It was a huge plate (half a chicken - yay leftovers!). We got both desserts; the lemon crème brulée was a really intense lemon flavor and was perfectly done, and the chocolate-crusted mousse was sinful - and included that amazing crème fraiche ice cream from December! An amazing meal.
Update, Mar 2007: The menu seems pretty much the same as last month's, but there were a couple of additions including a fabulous duck breast. It's thin slices of rare meat that are tender as can be, and not at all tough or gamey. It's with pistachios, asparagus and served on top of hand-rolled penne that was slightly flour-y tasting but good. And a bargain at only $14! The white bean soup was great, too - it's poured around a dollop of sweet pea mousse (weird, but trust me on this one!). The amuse bouche was interesting this month; it reminded me of a gourmet version of those peanut butter & cheese crackers. :D Same desserts as last month, too, but I didn't mind having another go at the chocolate-crusted mousse. ;-)
Update, Apr 2007: I had a tasty new pork chop dish. The meat itself was fine; a little less rare than I usually like, but nicely seasoned. But the bed of wheatberry "risotto" that it sat on was really interesting, with a very chewy texture and a cool flavor. There is also a simple and lovely asparagus dish with balsamic and gouda cheese. The amuse bouche was great this time; it was a shot of cherry juice with soda water and... basil. Much better than it sounds, I promise!
Update, May 2007: Started off with classic Revolver creativity: the amuse bouche was a shot of popcorn soup with almond and smoked paprika. They had a variation of the asparagus dish from last month with Gruyere cheese this time, and it was the best asparagus I've ever had. I finally splurged and got the NY strip steak entrée ($27), and it was worth every penny. It was served simply in a red wine reduction with basil oil around the sides. I ordered it rare, and it was perfect, complete with a wonderful salty crust. It's served with a side of the most amazing polenta on earth - a creamy texture with a cool smokiness. The new pasta dish was good, but pretty much the same as the old squash one. Something new and innovative would be cool. For dessert, more Revolver creativity - a rhubarb custard with pistachios. Highly recommended, with kind of a yogurty tang.
Update, June 2007: Lovely meal as always. The mango foam and fennel amuse bouche was very tasty, though had the unfortunate side effect of collapsing to nothing the moment it hit the mouth. The grilled peaches with white corn polenta and lavender-infused milk was definitely a hit, as was the grilled zucchini bread and goat cheese sandwich with ceylon cinnamon-tomato sauce (aka, super-gourmet grilled cheese and tomato soup). The morel gnocchi was fabulous; it's sad that they're almost out of season. The new vermicelli pasta with ratatouille was good, but a little bland for my taste. The Lake Erie walleye with smoked potatoes and rhubarb-butter sauce was definitely wonderful - tender and juicy fish with potatoes that will take you back to a campfire.
Update, July 2007: A spiffy amuse bouche with a cherry/beet foam with basil and white chocolate. As usual, perfect, and the crunch of white chocolate was a delayed-reaction dessert for a one-bite meal. The organic greens with bacon, maytag blue cheese and beets was awesome, especially the upside-down layer of cheese. The chilled cantaloupe and mustard green soup was also refreshing and tasty (seriously, it was!). Sara had Michael improvise a veggie dish that came out fabulously and was totally beautiful. The chicken dish this month was delicious - thin slices, cooked but not overdone. The texture was very tender, and reminded me a lot of turkey for some reason. My only complaint is that the braised chicken terrine on the side was too similar to the main dish. Something contrasting with a little acidity (think cranberry sauce for turkey) would have been even better. The blueberry tasting dessert was delicious, though a bit expensive for what it was ($9). I'd heard the chocolate crème brulée was to die for, and sure enough, I'm dead now. Yum. :)
Update, August 2007: The flood knocked them down for a week, but they're back! The menu is understandably a little smaller for now. The blackberry foam with pistachio amuse bouche was good, if a bit simple. The corn soup was definitely the star - the best soup I've had there. Rich and sweet but not too dense and filling, with generous amounts of crab meat. It's like a bisque dumped into a liquid corn tortilla. :D The halibut was fine, but nothing I'd get again. It was fairly bland and unimaginative by Revolver standards. They didn't have any veggie entrées, but Michael whipped Sara up a beautiful trio: green beans and heirloom tomatoes, baby carrots and brussel sprouts in a parsnip purée, and beets and rhubarb with goat cheese. Really lovely!
Update, September 2007: A very tasty watermelon gelatin, basil, crème fraiche and cracker amuse bouche. The warm sweet corn soup was different this month: now with vanilla, saffron and mascarpone. It was amazing, but the sweetness made it almost more of a desert choice, compared with the savory richness of the crab type. The star of the night was the amazing florida pink shrimp with lemon-parsley risotto and grilled radicchio. It's everything that makes Revolver genius: a bold and fresh take on relatively common ingredients. Citrus-flavored risotto? Seafood with cheese? More, please! Then came a special course of sliced heirloom tomatoes from Michael's garden with 25-year balsamic vinegar that was unspeakably tasty. The Salmon with braised lettuce and guanciale was definitely good, but like the halibut last month, wasn't very adventurous. The salmon was perfectly cooked and high-quality, there just weren't any bold flavors to make it stand apart. As time goes by, I find myself falling more in love with the ever-adventurous appetizers than the main courses! No veggie main course options again, so Sara's custom plate was just as cool and beautiful as last month's, while completely different. There were three dishes: one with beets and baby carrots, one with oil-cured olives, nuts and green beans, and an amazing mashed potato / gruyere concoction. Mmm.
Update, October 2007: Yay for fall at Revolver! The butternut squash foam amuse bouche with pomegranate was crazy good. The wild mushroom tart was meaty and very rich. The 64 degree egg with grilled sourdough bread and romaine lettuce was very odd, but very nice. I love the creamy texture of the egg against the toast, and an anchovy gave it lots of flavor. Sara's veggie combo plate was a definite hit, especially the inspired carrot/apricot/caper/almond dish. The spicy grilled fennel was tasty, but I wasn't as much into the smoked potatoes with gremolata - reminded me a little of car tires. The pekin duck brest was ridiculously good. Thin slices prepared nice and rare, paired with grilled pears and parsnips in a saigon-cinnamon-infused milk. Perfect. For desert, we got the tasty monkey bread with banana topping and a side of butternut squash and bourbon ice cream. Life's good.
Update, November 2007: I made the amateur mistake of finishing the soup, which was wonderful (Sweet Potato and Gala Apple) but as usual, insanely rich and filling. I did have room to finish my main course, but just barely. But what a main course it was: venison filet with brussel sprouts, pearl onions and buttercup squash purée. It was medium rare, and every bit as juicy and flavorful as I'd expect from Revolver - both embracing the gameyness of the meat but giving a break from it with the sweet purée. They have a way of making meats I don't normally enjoy taste amazing. A few quibbles about the menu, though. I've noticed it's both shrinking and becoming more stagnant. There were five options for a first course and five for a main course. Not a huge deal, but even as someone who only goes once a month, there was only one thing on each menu that I hadn't tried (not counting similar variations of previous dishes). Plus, there was no longer anything vegetarian on either menu. Michael always happily makes Sara an amazing custom dish (he previously was a chef at a vegetarian restaurant), and often they can make dishes without meat, but I could see where a newbie would be intimidated to ask. It's also getting a little more expensive, but good for them - it's still a bargain, and I'd rather pay more to have them maintain the quality. The full house on a random Wednesday night speaks volumes.
Update, December 2007: Another lovely meal! The Lake Erie walleye with shaved fennel, navel oranges, watercress, cilantro and ginger was very nice. But the Maine diver scallops with roasted cauliflower, capers, zante currants and almonds was divine. The scallops were perfectly done: a great crust on the outside, and firm but juicy on the inside, and the bed of veggies perfectly complimented it (though I hear the old apricot version was even better). They're putting sea salt on top of the crème brulée now (brilliant idea), and they offered a glorious lemony bread pudding with homemade egg nog as well. Yum.
Update, January 2008: My first time with a group. Yay for being able to sample more food. :) The roasted veal sweetbreads with braeburn apples and golden beets was a classic example of Revolver magic: making an ingredient that I don't normally like into something brilliant. The grilled squab was ok, but not as good as the sweetbreads. The Loch Duart Scottish salmon with fingerling potatoes and oil-cured olives was nice, though a little more done than I like salmon. The scallops were heavenly as always.
Update, February 2008: I forgot to post about these. I had the stellar Kung Pao shrimp and veal sweetbreads (drool) and the duck breast with garam masala. Very Asian. :) It's nice to see Revolver dipping their toes into Asian fusion cuisine, since Michael did it for years. They do it damn well.
Update, March 2008: The house-cured Bresaola with pummelos, rocket, whole grain mustard and grilled sourdough bread was lovely. It took awhile to eat, because I carefully assembled each bite to get the perfect proportions. Well worth it. :) Sara's special, the lemon gnocchi with wild mushrooms, was brilliant, especially the pan-fried crust on the gnocchi. So good. My grilled local pork loin with roasted mushrooms, braised radishes, purk belly and broccoli puree was great, too - especially the beautifully bright puree. My only quibble is that the pork loin was good, but bland next to the incredibly flavorful pork belly hidden underneath. :) For dessert, the ganache/marshmallow cake was ok, but lacked something - acidity maybe? Too rich or something. But the cheesecake (!) with grapefruit sauce on top was stellar.
Update, April 2008: Spiffy new font on the menus. :D We started out with a wonderful amuse bouche of a potato chip topped with carrot/Greek yogurt foam and chives. For the appetizer, the Lake Erie smelt with pickled red onions and fennel-cumin aioli kicked ass. I know it doesn't sound like it, but it was a deconstructed version of fish and chips! The grilled local asparagus with parmesean reggiano, poached quail eggs and truffle essence (and 25-year-old balsamic) was just as beautiful as the similar dish last April. The Mediterranean sea bass with smoked celery root, pea shoots and Greek yogurt was the best non-scallop seafood dish I've had since the monkfish. The fish dishes tend to be a little safe and bland, but this was great: crispy outside with lots of salt, and the yogurt gave it a tangy happiness. The smoked celery root didn't add much, but it didn't need help. :) The new desert was a sculpture of chocolate wafers separated by layers of frozen chocolate mousse, topped by passion fruit ice cream. Divine. :)
Update, May 2008: Four of us = more things to taste. :) A chickpea foam amuse bouche was nice, lots of hummus flavors, but not any sweet kicks. The sweet and sour pork belly with grilled pineapple and puffed brown rice first course was great. The pineapple was the star, especially with the topping. The pork was good, but for whatever reason drier and not nearly as good as the "Kung Pow" version. The Pekin duck breast with toasted orzo, slow-roasted fennel and merguez sausage was very nice. The duck was a little more done than usual, but the sausage orzo was sweet and wonderful. The infamous meatloaf with braised beef short rib, potato puree and red wine reduction was wonderful. Classic Revolver move: deconstruct a familiar dish and rebuild it from scratch with the same basic idea, but completely different approach. The desserts were the same as last month (with lemon ice cream instead of passion fruit). Damn good grapefruit-topped cheesecake!
Update, June 2008: I started off with the old standby, the organic greens with Maytag blue cheese, which was tang-tasic as ever. But the real star of the meal was the amazing local, dry-aged, grass-fed beef tenderloin with creamy polenta. Words don't exist to describe how amazing this steak was. The texture was the tenderest I've ever had, and the flavor was out of this world. The dry-aging process gave this such a complex, earthy flavor. I'll never want to eat a normal steak again. :)
Update, July 2008: I snagged the last order of the house cured bresaola with cocoa cardona goat cheese and Rachel's crackers for the first course. I had the bresaola once, but this is the first time since Italy that I had it. While not quite as amazing as it was there, I'm guessing the USDA would frown upon how rare it was in Italy. :D The cheese was a great combo. For my main, I had the Flint Ridge Farm rabbit with baby carrots, swiss chard, wheatberries and carrot reduction. I'd never had rabbit before, and of course, Revolver was a great place to try. It was delicious, but it truly does "taste like chicken". The white meat was like a very tender and juicy chicken breast, and the little pieces of dark meat were a bit richer and gamier than chicken. It was great, but not different enough to justify eating Peter Cottontail again. :) For dessert, we had the new option, a custardy cake from the Alsatian region of France called Clafoutis. There were raspberries in it, and a layer of chocolate at the bottom. Very good!
Update, August 2008: I forgot to post this right away, so it's a little fuzzy, but I finally had the Meatloaf with braised short rib, roasted tomatoes, niciose olives & green beans for myself, and it was very tasty. And the local pork belly with heirloom tomatoes, toasted brioche and baby lettuces was a wonderful deconstruction of a BLT. Oh, and they have a beautiful new patio outside!
Update, September 2008: To do. :)
Update, October 2008: They purchased a whole hog from Weirauch Farms in Jenera which they put to good use to make Gary Rossili's family recipe Italian sausage with potato gnocchi and tomato sauce. To keep up the pork theme, I also got the local bone-in pork loin with pickled pears, braised walnuts and creamed corn. The combination of these two was a total gut buster, but not too much to not try the new flourless cake dessert, which was an almost fudgy chocolate explosion. Mmmm. :) Oh, and the fries (fried in duck fat) were definitely worth getting!
Update, November 2008: Have I mentioned that their shot of spiced cider is a lovely way to start a meal? The Maytag blue cheese tortellini with braised red cabbage and roasted chestnuts makes the world a better place to live in. The wild Atlantic black bass with potato puree, nicoise olives and lemonette is the second-best fish dish I've had there (right behind that very first monkfish extravaganza). The presentation highlights the richness of the fish while giving it balance with the citrus. Really lovely. The butternut squash cheesecake was a little bit of a disappointment, but the flourless chocolate cake never disappoints!
Update, December 2008: Another spiced cider amuse bouche - definitely ok by me. :) The onion tart with poached farm egg and manchego cheese first course was the highlight of the meal. Sweet and deeply caramelized onions with a runny egg. The entree, crispy veal sweetbreads with braised oxtail, winter vegetables and potato gnocchi was definitely good, but not quite what I was hoping. The sweetbreads were a little more "typical" than usual, with that tongue-coating chalky texture, and they didn't play super-well with the oxtail (which was delicious). A good dish, it just could have been better with something else instead of the sweetbreads.
Update, January 2009: The spiced cider seems to have become the default amuse bouche, which is a great choice if I had to pick just one, but I miss the variety. A new sweetbread appetizer! The roasted veal sweetbreads with celeriac, preserved lemon and toasted sesame ($9) was maybe the best showing of this great ingredient yet - breaded and tender, without the chalky texture. The main course, a grilled skirt steak with truffled butter, greens & Revolver fries ($17) was delicious. A humble cut of meat (served with their amazing duck fat fries), perfectly cooked and far tastier than a filet mignon at an average restaurant. My only "beef" was with the presentation: very simple and unadorned, which I'd expect at Outback but I enjoy Revolver for their more creative twists on common dishes. That, and the portion size was far too large (another thing I'd expect more from a chain). The deserts are in a bit of a rut as well, but the goat milk cheesecake with grapefruit reduction is a damn tasty rut to be in. All in all, a better than average trip!
Update, February 2009: New amuse bouche! This time it was a olive puree with a potato chip. I heard the popcorn soup came back the next night. D'oh! The white Caribbean shrimp with pommelo, hominy and arugula was really lovely - very sweet shrimp. Ditto the Broken Arrow Ranch Axis venison with grilled escarole and sweet potato ravioli. Perfect combination of sweetness, meatiness and bitterness with perfectly-cooked venison (no gaminess at all). Same desserts.
Update, March 2009: You can't go wrong with pork belly here! The local pork belly with chili, fennel and orange was a great contrast of flavors, and the spiciness of the chili was an unusual (and welcome) thing at Revolver. I also tried the newest iteration of the Maine diver scallops with roasted cauliflower, arugula and curry-cider reduction - I don't know where they get their scallops, but I'll cry if their source ever dries up. :) Same desserts.
Update, April 2009: Special event - Stephanie Izard from Top Chef was cooking a 5-course meal for the night. It started out with a chilled sweet onion soup with Maine lobster and tarragon - very rich and the lobster was delicious, though a bit sweet. Next up, shaved brussel sprouts with goat cheese, trumpet royale mushrooms, basil, lemon, maple syrup and olive oil. A very interesting salad with a great balance of bitter, sweet, salty, sour and rich. The hand-harvested Maine scallops with crispy pancetta, sunchokes and pistachio-wild leek butter was my favorite - a masterpiece of pairing. Then the Sonoma County moulard duck breast with spring onions, asparagus, fingerling potatoes, fraises des bois and strawberry-rhubarb agrodulce was as good as it sounds. Finally, brown sugar cake with blueberry compote and blueberry-lemon ice cream brought me back to the glory days of super-creative Revolver deserts. Really tasty. All in all, a great meal, and it was truly interesting to see how similar in style Michael and Stephanie are, having come from the same culinary roots.
Update, May 2009: Oops! To do. :)
Update, June 2009: A very different but welcome first course option: a charcuterie plate with a number of cured meats and some pickled vegetables. The meats were kind of tough, but had great flavor, and the vegetables were actually quite good (and spicy!). The Dickman Farms chicken with parsley root puree, spring peas and roasted carrots makes me hungry just thinking about it. The spring peas were perfect.
Update, July 2009: Some cool new first courses! The tempura squash blossoms with zucchini bread and tomato-cinnamon sauce ($7) was a brilliant inside-out version of last summer's zucchini bread dish. The roasted veal sweetbreads with pickled ramps, snap peas, and serrano ham cream ($9) was generously proportioned, and cooked to perfection. Another hit was the grilled pork loin with hominy, oyster mushrooms and Spanish chorizo ($16), although the chorizo was a little tough. There was a new dessert option! And a damn good one - the clafoutis is back, and even better, with a creamier texture, while still being very light. One of my favorites yet.
Update, August 2009: Pictures are worth a thousand words, so I'm going to start posting some crappy iPhone pics to show how amazing this food is! Here are pictures of the menu and the food. They bought another heritage hog this year! The Thai BBQ Ribs from it were simply unreal - the best ribs I've ever had. Insanely tender, juicy, and the sauce was interesting and perfect. The walleye dish was good - the fish itself was kind of boring, but combined with the amazing beans and lemon rind, it added just what it needed. They had clafoutis with raspberry this time, which was a little tart, but tasty. And there was a great ice cream sampler dish to end on a very sweet note. :)
Update, September 2009: [Menu / Pics] The zucchini bread-stuffed squash blossoms with tomato-cinnamon sauce was everything that's beautiful about Revolver. The bonus sweetbreads with corn dish was also a welcome treat. :) For my main entree, the Dickman Farms chicken wasn't quite up to the level of Revolver quality that I'd expect - a little bland and dry, and the broth didn't really compliment the meal. The veggie special (three kinds of stuffed squash), on the other hand, was just delicious.
Update, October 2009: [Menu / Pics] The sweet potato soup got mixed reviews - I thought it was bland, but Sara liked it. The buttermilk fried chicken on the other hand, was just wonderful. The balance was very nice, the chicken was medium rare, and the kale was almost sweet. The scallops, well, Revolver knows scallops. :) Not quite as good as the old wine sauce versions, but still very nice. A new peach single-serving pie thingy was tasty and a change of pace.
Update, November 2009: [Menu / Pics] The potato gnocchi sounded weird, but there's no liquid broth, and it came out very tasty. The braised lamb shank represents everything that is pure and beautiful about food. Fall-off-the-bone tender, amazing flavor, generous marbled fat - perfection. Best lamb ever! The cheese plate was a nice change of pace for the end of meal. Very rich, but with a super-spicy rind (mustard-based?).
Update, December 2009: [Menu/Pics]
Update, January 2010: [Menu/Pics] The gnocchi is love.
Update, February 2010: [Menu/Pics] The duck sausage dish is a really cool deconstruction of baked beans. The cobia was delicious, and more interesting than the usual Revolver fish fare. Desserts abound!
Update, March 2010: [Menu/Pics] Whoa, the mushroom appetizer was stellar. I'd never had bone marrow before, and they nailed it - melt-in-your-mouth (literally) texture, with a nice crispy shell. Another highlight was the miso beans from the veggie dinner, delicious. The lamb was ok, but a little boring and lacking in lamby character. The couscous was great, though.