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Anniversary Dinner in Detroit

Niki in Dayton Jun 17, 2010 11:53 AM

We'll be celebrating our 20th anniversary in Detroit this year. We're actually staying in Dearborn, and it will be a week night. We like all kinds of food (Italian, other ethnic, seafood, meat, etc.), and money is no object for this meal. Where would you recommend we go that:

a. Has fabulous food (most important criteria!)
b. Has a decent wine list (or allows BYOB)
c. Is sort of romantic (doesn't have to be dark or quiet; just very nice)
d Is not too far from Dearborn?

Thanks in advance!

  1. f
    FM23 Jun 20, 2010 08:47 AM

    I'd recommend Bacco in Southfield. Food/Wine/Service all great. They can do a tasting for you if you ask, and compared to tastings I've had in other cities it's pretty reasonably priced.

    8 Replies
    1. re: FM23
      rainsux Jun 20, 2010 01:19 PM

      I'll second Bacco for Italian. It's no Lark, but it's a big step-up over Cafe Cortina.

      1. re: rainsux
        boagman Jun 20, 2010 03:43 PM

        *Is* it, now? I'll have to put it on my list, then. That's interesting to know. Do you consider either of them to be better than Giovanni's Ristorante?

        1. re: rainsux
          Niki in Dayton Jun 21, 2010 05:57 AM

          DH loved the sound of the food at Bacco. I pulled up the menu for him to review, and he asked if they make their own pasta....looked like it from what I could tell. Giovanni's website isn't nearly as polished as Bacco, and it appears to more of a red-sauce joint (not that there's anything wrong with that!). But there seems to be a lot of love for Giovanni's on this board....care to tell me why y'all love it? Thanks again!

          1. re: Niki in Dayton
            berkleybabe Jun 21, 2010 12:54 PM

            All pasta made on premises by 80 year old pro, long time wait staff who make you feel totally at home. Just a wonderful, warm experience with food cooked with love. It's in the middle of nowhere and you happen upon it as an oasis, and it really is. Bottom line, they love what they do and they love that you're there.

            1. re: berkleybabe
              boagman Jun 21, 2010 01:23 PM

              Not sure that I can put it any better than BB did above. And really: the pasta there is just the best I've had, hands-down. While I haven't been there as much as others, one thing I've never had there is red sauce, as that's one thing that tends to turn me off from Italian cuisine: the over-reliance on red sauce (the other thing being the over-reliance on cheese, something I'm averse to, for the most part).

              If it's your first time going there, I'm absolutely sure you won't be disappointed.

              1. re: boagman
                boagman Jun 22, 2010 07:43 PM

                I was actually able to get to Giovanni's tonight, and I'm still taken with the place. I arrived absolutely starving, and while the *plan* was to try a veal dish tonight, I couldn't resist trying the calamari appetizer, which I'd heard was fantastic.

                It's not just fantastic...it's *also* HUGE! This is an app big enough to be shared by three or four people. I ended up eating this, and some bread, and I was pretty much done. Yes, of course, I ordered some tiramisu for dessert, but I could never have handled ordering an entree as well.

                Same great service, same great place. I hate that I live so far from this place. It's a pleasure to give them my money.

                1. re: boagman
                  Markcron Jan 13, 2011 11:32 AM

                  Live and learn ...
                  The calamari there is great, but it is a shame that you did not try an entree, be it pasta or veal.
                  One of the big cons of dining alone if you get an app, and get filled up.

                  1. re: Markcron
                    Double Espresso Jan 20, 2011 11:45 AM

                    Happy to see Fran and company @ Giovanni's so gloated over. I love the hell out of this place. One of the only places where an entre of angel hair pasta in marinara is simply heaven. Also doesn't hurt that every visit there brings a hug and a couple off color jokes from Fran! Man, I just love that lady :)

      2. Niki in Dayton Jun 19, 2010 03:27 AM

        Thanks, folks, for all the recommendations so far. We just ate at a couple of Michael Symon restaurants in Cleveland (Lola and Bar Symon) and although they were great, we want something different for this meal. Lark and Forest Grill both appeal; anyone care to comment about the relative merits of one over the other? And keep your suggestions coming, please, we have a couple of weeks to decide. Thanks!

        Forest Grill Restaurant
        735 Forest Ave Ste 100, Birmingham, MI 48009

        6 Replies
        1. re: Niki in Dayton
          rainsux Jun 19, 2010 07:56 AM

          We like The Lark. Have not yet dined at Forest Grill.

          Forest Grill Restaurant
          735 Forest Ave Ste 100, Birmingham, MI 48009

          1. re: Niki in Dayton
            CulinaryWoman Jun 19, 2010 02:35 PM

            The Lark is expensive, and it has attitude. If it's your first time there, I would hate for you to drive all that way and then be disappointed. Also, one of the Lark's chefs was the first person voted off Top Chef DC for using frozen puff pastry in his maple dessert. Not exactly a good reflection of the kitchen.

            I think you'd enjoy The Whitney for atmosphere, since it's an anniversary, and there is nothing else like it in the Detroit area. If you had a friend who was a DAC member, I'd send you there, because the food is always good and it's such a pretty club,

            Don't do the Earle. Its day passed 20 years ago. I don't think they've changed the menu since Bo was coaching the Wolverines. It's not worth the trip. Neither is Eve. I've never had a good meal there, and Eve was the second person voted off Top Chef last year.

            1. re: CulinaryWoman
              berkleybabe Jun 21, 2010 12:52 PM

              I'd have to disagree. Have had some landmark events/anniversaries at The Lark and it is probably the best dining experience I've ever had...anywhere. Gracious, wonderful food, I think the pretension level is low...still a stellar place on every level.

            2. re: Niki in Dayton
              uhockey Jun 19, 2010 06:08 PM

              I've been around a bit in terms of great restaurants - I'd personally say that Forest Grill is the only "destination" restaurant in Michigan, for my dining dollar. Everything that came out of the kitchen was great, the location pleasant and "small town" in nature.

              If you wanted to continue the Symon theme, Roast was FAR better than Lola in my experience.

              Skip The Whitney - nice setting, abominable food and piss-poor service.


              Forest Grill Restaurant
              735 Forest Ave Ste 100, Birmingham, MI 48009

              1. re: uhockey
                Niki in Dayton Jun 21, 2010 05:45 AM

                Thanks, uhockey, I read the review of Forest Grill on your blog, and even if we don't go there for our anniversary, we'll definitely have to eat there during our visit to Dearborn!

                Forest Grill Restaurant
                735 Forest Ave Ste 100, Birmingham, MI 48009

              2. re: Niki in Dayton
                boagman Jun 20, 2010 09:21 AM

                I'll side with the Lark, though I have no comment on Forest Grill, since I've not been. I actually thought the Lark was quite nice, though I'd avoid a dish or two that they tout (don't bother with the rack of lamb there), and it's *certainly* a romantic place/destination. My complaints about the place would be pretty petty, and my compliments would be quite noteworthy: they know what they are, and that's what they aim to be.

                Another possible suggestion: Cafe Cortina in Farmington Hills?

                Forest Grill Restaurant
                735 Forest Ave Ste 100, Birmingham, MI 48009

              3. rainsux Jun 18, 2010 08:15 AM

                My wife likes Coach Insignia for a fancy night out.

                Coach Insignia
                Renaissance Center 72nd Floor, Detroit, MI 48243

                1. j
                  Jim M Jun 18, 2010 06:27 AM

                  Heck, from Dogbone I'd go to one of the destination places in Detroit. If you're serious carnivores, Roast is the hot place right now. Not really low-light romantic, but elegant, and meat dishes are tops. I've had several wonderful meals at Cuisine, a high-end French place in an old house in the New Center area. For sheer eye-popping splendor from Michigan's lumber era and food that can be, but is not always, very good, try the Whitney. One place in a casino where I haven't been, but that's also a popular special-occasion destination: Iridescence (claims an award-winning wine list).

                  1. m
                    Markcron Jun 17, 2010 01:00 PM

                    Here are a couple:

                    Giovanni's for Italian (but the location can be a turnoff, though it is very close to Dearborn)
                    330 S Oakwood, Detroit

                    The Lark
                    6430 Farmington Road
                    West Bloomfield, MI
                    I think the food here is still great, and the atmosphere can be romantic, but there is a chance you might find it a tad stuffy.
                    WIne List here is pretty incredible.

                    Paesano's in Ann Arbor has great Italian and a good wine list, but it is not even close to romantic.
                    The Earle in Ann Arbor also has a very nice wine list, and is a pretty romantic space (and dark).

                    These are the places that I can recommend from experience. There will be other recommendations I'm sure for places I've not been to yet.

                    I would pick the Lark of the above 4 choices.

                    Some other places that would be on my list, based on word of mouth:
                    eve in Ann Arbor
                    Forest Grill in Birmingham

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Markcron
                      JanPrimus Jun 17, 2010 01:25 PM

                      Second for Giovanni's!

                      I also like the Second suggestion for Forest Grill!

                      Forest Grill Restaurant
                      735 Forest Ave Ste 100, Birmingham, MI 48009

                      1. re: Markcron
                        berkleybabe Jun 21, 2010 12:50 PM

                        Giovanni's! Hands down!

                      2. v
                        vniemo Jun 17, 2010 12:59 PM

                        My suggestion would be Moro's in Allen Park. Great Food, and Flaming Dessert made tableside.


                        2 Replies
                        1. re: vniemo
                          vniemo Jun 17, 2010 02:51 PM

                          Bistro 222 in Downtown West Dearborn is also very good.


                          1. re: vniemo
                            xman887 Jan 13, 2011 07:14 AM

                            i had lunch at moro's yesterday. first time i have been there in approx 15 years. i told my customer this and he said, "well, if you like garlic, you will love this place."

                            small room, soft lighting, nice white table cloths and napkins, waiters wearing black suits, white shirts, and black bow ties.

                            had a good bowl of swiss onion soup that i enjoyed - nice sweet onion flavor. the minestrone looked good, too.

                            for lunch, i had the moro's salad, which fell short of a roma salad or a mario's (where tom moro started out in 1969) salad. tossed tableside, it was dressed with too much oil and not enough vinegar, so it tasted a little flat. i was thinking about the fetuccini bolognese, but opted for the salad after a marathon of eating during december. wish i went with the pasta.

                            the cheese ravioli special looked delicious and not a morsel was left. the veal cutlet off the menu also looked good and was polished off, too.

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