Swirls of sauce and fresh orchid blossoms adorn entrees at Hirosaki Prime, where chefs craft traditional and contemporary Japanese dishes. At tabletop grills throughout the 54-seat hibachi room, they blend cooking and performance in a showy display as they sauté vegetables and seasoned meats. In the smaller lounge, alit with votive candles, otherworldly artwork, and walls inlaid with a soft red glow, guests can sample other Japanese dishes such as chicken teriyaki, as well as specialty sushi rolls such as the Ninja roll, whose shrimp tempura, cucumber, and spicy tuna hide in plain sight.
The chefs at Kai Sushi Bar and Grill synthesize culinary skills with fresh ingredients, resulting in a menu of delectable Japanese cuisine and high-quality sushi. Starters of kushiyaki beef skewers ($5.50) and thin-sliced, seared tuna-tataki ($8.95) are on hand to wake even the most deeply hibernating of stomach bears. With a variety of healthy, creative options, such as the lobster salad ($13.95) and low-carb sushi selections, the recipes highlight indulgence without guilt. The eatery pays homage to local sports teams with cheerleading squads and the Red Sox soy wrap, lovingly filled with tempura shrimp, apple, and avocado ($11.95). Guests with a craving for land meat can satisfy their inner grumblings with chicken katsu and steamed veggies ($13.50), or conquer the modern American dream of downing a 14-ounce sirloin steak in a Japanese restaurant ($20.95). Celebrate a successful dining experience with a thematically inappropriate jig atop the sushi bar and a dessert of zesty banana tempura ($5.95) while enjoying the restaurant's atmosphere, which the proprietors strive to make both comfortable and classy.
As Italian eateries go, Peppercorn’s is a chameleon. Entrees can be elegant—grilled salmon over mesclun, steak tips with a seafood casserole—or downright comforting, such as a pot roast with natural pan gravy. Families have an easy time ordering thanks to the thin-crust pizzas and kids' menu, whereas more mature crowds enjoy the benefits of Peppercorn’s proximity to Wormtown Brewery. The craft-beer producers are just next door, so they keep Peppercorn’s bar stocked with their regular brews, rare offerings, and to-go growlers. In the lounge, seven high-definition flat screen TVs broadcast the day’s athletic proceedings, and here spectators can order anything off the full menu while they second-guess the manager's decision to replace the catcher with a pyramid of fragile milk bottles.
For 30 years, the culinary family behind CJ's Steakloft has whipped up a spread of savory steak-house fare, including juicy slabs of beef, hearty pastas, and fresh fish. Cuts of prime rib fill plates with tender helpings ($19.95), and Parisienne sirloin ($18.95) proves its whereabouts with an airtight alibi of thick, tasty grill marks. Pasta entrees, such as the creamy chicken-and-broccoli alfredo ($14.95) unite starch and protein in a palatable symphony of flavor, and seafood dishes such as baked stuffed haddock deliver artfully prepared packages of fresh, flaky ocean fare ($16.95). Combination dinners unite land and sea with mix-and-match entrees such as steak tips and lobster accompanied by an edible aide-de-camp of potato or vegetable ($24.95).
Most chefs tend to specialize in a particular cuisine, such as Italian or sushi. Prezo Grille & Bar's executive chef, Tim Vaillette, however, prefers to specialize in a little bit of everything. His main menu runs the gamut from classic American burgers to Barcelona-style swordfish served with rice pilaf. He also draws inspiration from Italy, topping the house-made dough of his thin-crust pizzas with ingredients such as buffalo mozzarella, ricotta, meatballs, and caramelized onions. Tim even dabbles in sushi, preparing specialty rolls such as the bad boy maki, which he coils with spicy salmon, avocado, and spicy mayo before serving it atop a revving motorcycle. To complement Tim's far-reaching menu, Prezo's bartenders serve an extensive selection of cocktails and craft beer, as well as more than 20 wines by the glass and 50 by the bottle.
Feasts unfold in Prezo's upscale, romantically lit dining room or in its similarly lit bar, where four plasma televisions stay tuned to the latest sports game.
Ken's Steak House is an improbable success story. Ken and Florence Hanna opened the Lakeside Cafe in 1935, the throes of the Great Depression. Bite by bite, they built a loyal base of customers (who always just called the eatery "Ken's"), and after five years, the restaurant took up residence in a small diner on Route 9, then known as Starvation Alley.
But Ken dreamed of a day when the grimly named strip would flourish. Today, it's known as the "Golden Mile"—and Ken's Steak House itself has mushroomed. The kitchen still serves the salad dressing recipes created by Florence Hanna—now a national line of salad dressings—and Ken's son, Timothy, and his wife are in charge.
Chefs broil and fire-grill prime cuts of steak, marinating the chateaubriand's center cut roast tenderloin in a reduction of port wine, or infusing the 8-ounce filet mignon with the earthy smoked notes of the warm cedar planks it's served on. Seafood options nestle up against their turf counterparts, including bacon-wrapped scallops, a full pound of lobster stuffed with crab and shrimp, and pistachio-crusted Atlantic salmon. Chicken and pasta dishes round out the menu, and diners discover Italian influences and plenty of seafood-pasta plates. The rustic wood paneling harkens back to Ken's Steak House's roots, and the upscale fare and soft light cast from chandeliers make the spot an ideal choice for an anniversary dinner or a piñata's last meal.