Outfitted with black tablecloths, framed art, cushy booths, and carpeted floors, Black Pearl’s dining room is a comfortable space that leaves plenty of room for romance to flicker in the low light. In this, it’s well matched to the menu: a selection of pastas, steaks, and seafood with options to suit occasions ranging from a quick lunch to a grand night out. Tender prime rib stars in both hearty surf ‘n’ turf entrees and a slew of sandwiches and salads. The Blade noted that the signature cut—a carryover from the restaurant’s previous incarnation as HJ’s Prime Cut—“continues to be superb,” while also praising lake perch that’s “tender and sweet, with a light breading that doesn't overwhelm the delicate flavor of the fish.”
Beyond the dining room with its arched windows and hanging lamps is a fully stocked bar whose tenders pour beer and mix martinis, including a line of signature drinks made with midnight-dark Blavod Black vodka. Armchairs clustered around low tables and a single flat-screen television introduce a clubby vibe. But the restaurant's most intriguing seats may lie just beyond the front door, where curving half-walls painted with a Rothko-esque design swoop around a party-friendly circular table.
Once fresh catches arrive to Cafe West, it's up to you how they're made. Diners can choose from 10 preparation styles for 6 seafood classics, from deep-frying mahi-mahi to stirring perch into scampi. Of course, the chefs whip up their own creations, too, such as mac and cheese made from cavatappi pasta, succulent scallops and shrimp, and house alfredo sauce.
Besides maritime options, Cafe West spotlights plenty of land-based proteins, including chargrilled 1-pound ribeyes and blackened chicken smothered in housemade pineapple salsa. Bartenders complement meals with an extensive selection of wine and brews both imported and local, some of which they showcase at frequent tasting events.
Circular mirrors back the bar, while the windowpanes in the casual dining room sport ocean-themed decorations, including diagrams explaining the differences between public and private schools of fish. Outdoor seating sets a relaxed mood during warm months.
Nagoya Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi's well-traveled owners, Mel and Barb Ayers, unite the culinary artistry of Japan with chefs selected from around America for their talents and showmanship. The result—set in a convivial restaurant with an outdoor patio and tableside hibachi grills—draws a bridge between the artistic elegance of Japanese cuisine and the family-friendly atmosphere of an American steakhouse. Meats sizzle on hibachi grills as chefs perform knife and spatula tricks for dazzled onlookers, who must refrain from leaning in too close lest a tower of onions suddenly catches fire. The spectacular dance of flames results in entrees of filet mignon, sea scallops, and lobster tails, all of which pair nicely with sushi such as a crab-filled california roll or a Volcano roll drizzled with fresh magma.
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.
Whitehouse Inn's America-themed menu sates appetites for classic domestic fare such as steaks and burgers, and the presidential portraits that line the walls encourage scintillating historical conversations. In honor of the 27th president for which it is named, the mushroom-topped William Taft dish of char-grilled beef is slathered with onions and thick beef gravy to help grease it out of a too-small bathtub ($11.99). Platters of juicy prime rib range from 8-ounce AARP cuts ($11.99) to 36-ounce presidential cuts ($35.99), and all arrive with Secret Service escorts of a salad or soup, dinner rolls, and choice of side. Oval-office burgers such as the hickory burger with barbecue sauce and bacon ($6.99+) resolve international disputes with the help of a neutral mushroom-swiss burger ($6.99+). Pair any dish with a selection of sides, including sweet-potato french fries and waffle fries that emigrated from France on a buoyant waffle iron.
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.