It’s been a long time since going to dinner at an upscale restaurant meant dressing up in that little black dress or its male equivalent, the dark suit and silk tie.
On occasion, sure, we can be persuaded to dress for dinner, and that will never really go out of style. But even restaurants in the top rung are no longer rigid when it comes to the fashion quotient of their guests.
Our world is casual now. But that doesn’t mean we’re casual about our food choices. In fact, it’s just the contrary: Metro Detroit diners have become extremely quality-conscious. Local restaurateurs know they can’t thrive unless they serve top-notch food.
The strength of our restaurant scene can be attributed to the nationally known culinary program at Schoolcraft College. Chefs trained at the state-of-the-art facility on Haggerty Road in Livonia populate the kitchens of some of the best restaurants here and elsewhere. And even before that, they staff the American Harvest Restaurant at the school, where diners get their first glimpse of the talent of the future.
Schoolcraft graduates are applying their skills at many of the area’s top dining establishments, including Iridescence at the MotorCity Casino Hotel, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, Tribute, and the Andiamo restaurants.
Even though the trend-watchers are always on the lookout for The Next Big Thing, and the local scene reflects it to a degree, trendiness isn’t the real strength here; consistency is. And that hard-to-achieve — but priceless — attribute is something we should take pride in.
Just think about the longevity of such local institutions as The Lark (celebrating its 29th anniversary in 2010), Buddy’s Pizza (serving its pies since 1946), Peabody’s (a haven for Birmingham diners since 1975), and Fishbone’s (nearing 20 years since opening its first location in downtown Detroit). Although these places are very different from one another, the common thread is that each has found a niche and adheres to it.
Certainly, another strength of our restaurant scene can be found in its ethnic diversity. We love our sushi, our hummus, our tandoori chicken and, of course, our risotto and fettuccine.
Gaucho Brazilian Steakhouse gives us an authentic touch of that South American country, while La Pita offers a tour of the extensive Mediterranean/Middle Eastern menu. The authentic Chinese dishes at Hong Hua, a former Hour Detroit Restaurant of the Year winner, take that fascinating Asian fare well beyond almond chicken and sweet-and-sour pork.
And Edamame Sushi Nu-Asian Kitchen has been attracting lovers of Japanese fare ever since opening in early 2008.
Of course, our eye for the exotic doesn’t take away from our love of steak, a perennial on menus, including those at the sparkling new Ocean Prime and Big Rock Chophouse.
Within the pages of this guide is a wealth of information on the local restaurant scene. With a copy in hand, you can have a ready answer the next time someone in your circle asks, “Where shall we go for dinner?”