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Dec 15, 2006 11:01 PM

Nice Restaurant in or around Birmingham and/or Suburban Detroit

My boss and his wife have an 18 month old son and they rarely get out of the house to enjoy a romantic night! So for Christmas I want to give them a gift certificate to a nice restaurant. My budget is $150 and although I hope it doesn't come to it, I'm sure they wouldn't mind supplementing it if the meal total endsup being a bit more than $150.

They live in Bloomfield Hills, so can anyone suggest a nice restaurant in that area or surrounding area?

Many thanks!!

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  1. Depends ... if they are the stylish type, they might enjoy Forte in downtown Birmingham ( Personally, I'd send them to Cuisine in New Center in Detroit. Just superb high-end food ( If they live in Bloomfield, B'ham might not seem like much of an excursion. Cuisine is sort of a tucked-away treasure (it's in an old house), and on a weeknight when it's not crowded you really get treated royally there.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Jim M

      Okay, I know that this is probably going to go against the grain, here, and maybe it's a bit short-sighted based on my experience, but I wouldn't send his friend, nor anyone else, to Cuisine.

      One night I decided that I was really hankering for a good chocolate souffle. It was late, and it was either on a weeknight or a late Sunday night, I can't remember which. Since I hadn't tried Cuisine (but had heard great things), I checked out their menu online (it said they had it), and then called to make sure that they had it, along with what time their kitchen closed. I had plenty of time.

      Apparently, so did they. Service wasn't prompt, and it wasn't attentive. The restaurant was maybe 1/5 full (only a few other occupied tables), and yet trying to get someone's attention was completely fruitless. It annoyed me to the point of distraction, especially since, at a place like Cuisine, part of what you're paying for is great service. Negative on that. The service consisted of: A. Taking my order and B. Dropping my order off, even adding the cream *themselves* rather than letting me do it to my taste.

      Which leads me to the souffle. I fully admit that it was light and airy, and had not fallen (until Idiot Boy drowned the thing in the cream he poured on it without asking). The chocolate flavor, however, was disappointing, and certainly didn't deserve the $7 (IIRC) menu price. The cream flavor and chocolate souffle flavor were not that good (especially the souffle itself), though it certainly wasn't the worst chocolate souffle I've ever eaten (that award goes to the "chocolate souffle" I had that, I kid you not, tasted like it was based on Nestle's Qwik!). Here's the kicker, though: since the souffle wasn't up to snuff, I would have liked to have said something, or been provided with an alternate dessert. Remember that service problem I had in a near-empty restaurant? See how it's a bigger problem now than when I started?

      I paid and left. In *order* to pay, I had to end up walking up to the bar and settling there. Service was basically non-existent, and the dessert I had wouldn't draw me back on a bet. I agree that the setting is quite nice, and on a nice evening the front window table would be enviable, but when, as a restaurant, you can't do the two main things (food and service) right, you could have a breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon, and I wouldn't go, nor would I tell my friend to go there.

      I often wonder why it's said about Cuisine that their owner/chef desires feedback. Trying to get a hold of him by either email or phone is like trying to dig to China with a teaspoon. I'm not rooting *against* the place...I just know I won't be going back.

      1. re: boagman

        Oddly enough, I had the chocolate soufflé when I went, and I'd agree it was not that great. However, everything else I ordered was top-notch. The sturgeon I had was the freshest piece of fish I've ever eaten that didn't come from the end of my own line.

        1. re: Jim M

          And see, if it was just the souffle (wish I knew how to make the "e" with the accent, as you do...), I'd have probably given the place another shot. To me, it was more the "We don't want, nor need, to be bothered with you." attitude that the lack of service fostered. If a restaurant, especially a high-end one, can't be bothered to serve its customers, then it should either adjust its hours accordingly or close entirely. I can get food in lots of other places, and there is *lots* of competition for my high-end restaurant dollar. They'll even include *service* with the price of the food! Imagine that! ;)

          Glad you liked it, though. It's just that there are far too many places that I'd like to try, and haven't yet. Going back to one that's already had a chance and failed pretty miserably is not what I'd consider a good use of my time or money, and sending my *boss* to such a place as a "gift" would be a scary proposition to me. I wouldn't send anyone there.

          To the original poster, Opus One in Detroit is a superior alternative. They've never disappointed me. Is it absolutely perfect? No. Is it a well-established, gourmet food, service-oriented, well-appointed high-end restaurant that's worth the money? You bet.

          1. re: boagman

            True, at those prices, there should be no room for an off night service-wise.

            Acute accent on "e": I think in Windows it's Alt+0233. Macintosh is Option+e, then e.

    2. I would recommend Tribute: 31425 W. 12 Mile, Farmington Hills; 248-848-9393.
      We've had several excellent dinners there. It's expensive, but will not blow your $150 budget in any significant way.
      It is a unique dining experience. I don't know if they do gift certificates, but you could call and ask.

      1. Tribute would be a great call, and a gift certificate to Tribute is also redeemable at Forte in Birmingham since they are owned by the same corp. So that would be perfect!

        Or also in Birmingham, you could do Camerons/Mitchells, Rugby Grille at the Townsend, Streetside Seafood, Phoenicia.

        In Bloomfield, you could do Northern Lakes Seafood, which would also entitle them to use the certificate at any other Matt Prentice restaurant (Shiraz, NoVI, Coach Insignia, etc.)

        Capital Grill in Troy would be a good call too, or another steakhouse like Ruth's Chris.