Not many steak houses can boast of their own market where juicy cuts of meat are swiftly transported from the nearby deli to the bustling restaurant kitchen. Knight’s Steakhouse and Grill holds this distinction in the form of Knight’s Market, an Ann Arbor deli where the steaks are painstakingly selected according to their size—each steak must be big enough to double as a shoe, if the need should arise. After the chefs cook them to perfection at the eatery’s two locations, the sizzling entrees make their way to waiting diners amid soft lighting and stone and brick accents.
With its ledge rock walls, burnished wood accents, and life-size horse sculpture perched at the wraparound bar, The Stillwater Grill hearkens back to a frontier lodge. Chefs reinforce the rustic ambiance with a menu of hearty American fare: they grill USDA Choice beef and inspected seafood, and then drizzle their flame-licked exteriors with homemade sauces.
Ponderosa Steakhouse & Buffet is a 25-year-old design with family-friendly incarnations nationwide. The Lansing locale dares patrons to scale a heaping all-you-can-eat buffet, where verdant mountains of crisp lettuce and fresh toppings inspire salads, and zesty chicken wings offer to awaken taste buds that fell asleep while eating cedar mulch. Second, third, and ninth trips yield juicy baked chicken with vegetables, multiple styles of cooked potato, and the gooey seduction of bubbling pizza by the slice. Weekends unleash steaming meats from red-hot grills and invite diners to sample unlimited fistfuls of sirloin steak, shrimp, and barbecue ribs.
Peals of laughter rise from families around the granite tabletops at which hibachi chefs crack jokes and flip shrimp over the grill. At Ichiban Steakhouse, expert grillers don black chef suits and show off their skill at slicing and searing chicken, steak, and seafood. Flanked by dark wood walls, nearby sushi chefs slice fresh fish to wrap tightly in specialty rolls. Five tatami rooms provide semiprivate spaces for business meals, romantic outings, or discreet transformations into a werewolf.
The Lakes Bar & Grille calms appetites with a menu comprising a wide variety of grilled meats, perfectly cooked seafood, and plentiful entrees. Blackberry chicken takes center stage by singing a song of house-made blackberry pan sauce, surrounded by a supporting cast of vegetables and a potato cameo ($15.95). Dine on the grill's most beloved staple, steak, with such succulent meat slabs as filet mignon seared in zip sauce and coated in herb butter ($23.95–$28.95) and16-ounce hand-cut delmonico steaks with all the fixings ($26.95). Pan-fried perch leap from griddles to plates in a magnificent display of annual migration, eager to reach their home in lakes of lemon butter and tartar sauce ($18.95). Combining the very best of water-based sports and artificial football fields, surf 'n' turf mac 'n' cheese piles plates with steak bits, lobster, and elbow macaroni ($15.95).
Owner Jerry Costanza and his culinary crew create Northern Italy–styled dishes, including seasonal recipes. Their extensive wine list features vinos from Italy's major wine regions, along with organic and vintage-tiered selections from everywhere from Australia to Michigan. The staff pours these to complement the eatery's signature USDA–certified Piedmontese beef dishes, the lean, juicy, tender meat of which comes from cattle that originated in the foothills of the Italian Alps—also where Ducatis graze until they become Ferraris. Along with beef dishes, the chefs dish up sautéed shrimp, grilled sea bass, and italian truffle mac 'n' cheese.