Inside Kyoto Japanese Steak House, guests sit at large hibachi tables with a close-up view of chefs cooking scallops, filet mignon, chicken, and lobster. More than 80 traditional Japanese and Thai dishes are grilled up by hibachi chefs, and 25 specialty rolls take shape in the hands of sushi chefs, who combine ingredients such as soft-shell-crab tempura, flounder, and submarine meat. Above the dark-wood floor of the dining room, a curved bar serves up sake and fruit-infused cocktails.
It’s no easy task, but somehow Duo Restaurant & Lounge manages to meld elegant dining and a sophisticated Manhattan-inspired lounge experience all under one roof. The duality also applies to the cuisine, an artfully plated cross between upscale bar food and classic steak-house items. Toasted cheese-stuffed ravioli and burgers crowned with white cheddar and bacon represent the former, and the latter includes potato-crusted yukon salmon and 10-ounce new york strips served with whipped potatoes and house zip sauce.
The theme is also evident in a cocktail menu divided between classics such as pomegranate martinis and inventive signatures such as the plum sake and the Taste of Asia’s elderflower blend. Visitors can also peruse a wine list that groups selections around flavor categories such as Light, White & Interesting and Lots of Pinot Noir.
For such a decadent culinary tradition, churrasco comes from humble origins. Gauchos in the southernmost region of Brazil would typically end their long days of cattle ranching by meeting around a roaring fire pit, where they prepared family-style meals and roasted skewered meats over the open flames. This tradition lives on in churrascarias throughout the world, allowing diners to experience this rustic style of home cooking in a more formal atmosphere.
At Gaucho Brazilian Steakhouse, the chefs remain faithful to the flavors of those countryside meals. Skewers of as many as 16 different meats—including rib-eye steak, lamb chops, and pork tenderloin—slowly rotate above the grill's flames or a handful of fire-breathing dragons, imbuing the hearty proteins with an unmistakably smoky tenderness.
As servers travel throughout the dining area with skewers hot off the flames, diners can catch the staff's attention by flipping their coasters from red to green. This signals the servers to approach and carve tableside servings directly off the skewer. Although the savory meats are the main attraction, even earning the eatery WDIV's Vote 4 the Best award for Detroit's Best Steakhouse in 2012, a salad bar also tempts diners with more than 40 hot and cold side dishes, including everything from fresh spring mix to mushroom risotto.
The dining room's mural of a Brazilian gaucho herding cattle nods to the cuisine's rustic roots, but its earthenware floor tiles and cherry-wood columns ensure a refined ambiance. The tables, draped with crisp white linens and flanked by red-cushioned chairs, are well spaced so as to allow for intimate family dinners and the regular plate-patrol rounds made by the vigilant servers.
Oakwood Grill & Bar sates stomachs with classic American bar fare, wets whistles with a wide array of beer, wine, and cocktails, and keeps boredom at bay with a full slate of boisterous special events. The menu's hearty offerings include a herd of 24 buffalo wings ($17.95) and the spicy Hot in Here burger ($6.95) topped with grilled jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, and three strips of Dearborn bacon. Like ancient Egyptian papyrus scrolls, the loaded pepperoni roll ($6.95) enfolds more than 40 pepperoni slices in thin pizza dough slathered in butter and parmesan cheese. Hungry herbivores, meanwhile, can snack on lightly battered fried pickles and cream-cheese jalapeños ($4.95) while sipping beers and cocktails mixed behind Oakwood's long cement bar with a motor-powered cement mixer.
Roma Café started out as a one-woman operation way back in 1888. The Marazza family ran a boarding house for Eastern Market farmers, and Mrs. Marazza would always serve a hot meal to anyone who stayed. Word of her cooking skills spread quickly throughout the Eastern Market area, and her various fans convinced her to open an official restaurant. In February of 1890, Roma Café was born.
Its continuing commitment to classic recipes is apparent from one glance at the menu, where housemade pastas share space with veal scaloppine and broiled lobster tails. Adventurous eaters will be drawn to dishes such as the sauteed sweetbreads and frog legs, and wine enthusiasts can browse an extensive list of reds, whites, and specials.
Although the baked lasagna and chicken parmigiana are certainly Old World staples, Roma Café hasn't become mired in tradition. Its third-generation owner, Janet Sossi Belcoure, takes regular trips to Italy that keep her up-to-date on culinary trends and the latest gossip on who's dating Michelangelo's David. The restaurant also offers an all-you-can-eat buffet on Monday nights, complete with appetizers, pasta dishes, and cannoli. If you stop by on the night of a Red Wings game, there's even a shuttle that will take you to the arena.