Steaking a Claim

Prime beef is back in a big way

Detroit is in the midst of a revamping, reopening, and resurgence of steakhouses. With new restaurants across the city and old favorites getting a facelift, proprietors are finding ways to differentiate themselves, catering to the tastes of an expanding customer base while paying homage to classic American steakhouse roots.

Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse, the newest beef emporium to dot Birmingham’s map, has already set a precedent for appealing to the local crowd. Although the Birmingham location is one of several Hyde Park locations by an Ohio-based group, each restaurant offers a menu tailored to its geographical location. In Birmingham this includes a “local favorites” portion of the menu as well as a steak menu with traditional and specialty options.

Prime29 offers steaks aged for 29 days, thus its title, and also offers an extensive selection of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options that earlier restaurateurs would never have considered. The West Bloomfield spot emphasizes service and a handsomely contemporary setting.

Detroit Prime has joined the ranks with its own spin on the classic American steakhouse menu. The Farmington Hills restaurant was designed as a tribute to 1940s Detroit, with menu items from Faygo root beer braised short ribs to an inclusive list of Detroit microbrews and a setting that features Detroit memorabilia from the Detroit Tigers to Bob-Lo boats. Like Prime29, it also offers some interesting vegetarian options.

Although Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak closed after serving the MGM Detroit Grand for five years, Wolfgang Puck Steak has already stepped in, ushering in the new age of modern steakhouses in the city.

Troy’s Ocean Prime brings a modern supper club feel to the steakhouse scene, with updated classic sides, including an extensive list of potato options—from truffled French fries to lobster mashed potatoes. A variety of fresh seafood options expands the steak selection.

The former Andiamo Italia restaurants in Bloomfield Township, Dearborn, and Warren have a new name—Joe Vicari’s Andiamo Italian Steakhouse—emphasizing steaks while continuing to offer the authentic Italian dishes that put them on the map in the first place.

The London Chop House looks better than ever in its refreshed cellar setting while the vintage charm has been retained. The new proprietors have created a destination for those who remember the restaurant’s former glory and also for those looking toward the future of the city. While the menu has been modernized, it also has steakhouse classics such as steak tartare and oysters Rockefeller.

Consider the enduring success of the venerable Clawson Steak House, which has held court in the same location for 50 years, or Kiernan’s, a decades-old Dearborn mainstay. And we can’t forget such prime players as Big Rock Chophouse, Cameron’s Steakhouse, and No. VI Chop House, along with Morton’s The Steakhouse, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

Other establishments not exactly considered as traditional “steakhouses” have found success over the years through evolving menus, wine lists, and service. Grosse Pointe neighborhood eatery City Kitchen serves up certified Angus beef—including New York strip, beef tenderloin filet, and tournedos—to go along with their seafood and hearth-fired pizzas. Meanwhile, Gaucho Brazilian Steakhouse puts its own “skewered” twist on the steak, with servers bringing an array of meats to the tables in an endless procession.

Fiamma Grille in Plymouth distinguishes itself with a menu that changes according to the season. Like the up-and-coming steakhouses in town, this one offers gluten free and vegetarian options, along with a Wine Spectator “Award of Excellence” wine list.

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar doesn’t stop at steakhouse. Both Birmingham and Livonia locations offer an array of seafood and chicken dishes. The most recent change, however, is in the cocktail menu. While Fleming’s continues to provide a list of one hundred wines by the glass, the newest addition is a sampling of cocktails, wines, and appetizers each night.

Michael Symon’s Roast, in downtown’s Westin Book Cadillac, is an unabashedly all-American steakhouse showing a shift in the status quo with “a beer list for the wine enthusiast.” As more microbreweries pop up across the country, Michigan remains high on the list of breweries per capita. Roast stocks local and international beers alike, including seasonal selections on tap.

The great American steakhouse —whether classic or contemporary — is alive and well in metro Detroit.