Andiamo 129 S. Main St. • 248.582.9300
Classic and simple, like Andiamo itself, characterizes the menu perfectly. Chicken Cacciatore is as quintessential an Italian dish as lasagna or spaghetti and meatballs. Chicken breast is slow cooked in a sauce of tomato, onions and roasted peppers. When prepared properly, chicken cacciatore will transport you back to the days of mom or grandma preparing a special Sunday dinner. Also impressive is the salmon risotto. Char grilled salmon filet rests atop rich, creamy risotto that is studded with tomatoes and spinach. Think of it as a really upscale macaroni and cheese.
Bastone 419 S. Main St. • 248.544.6250
As most folks living the the Royal Oak area know, Bastone is much more than a brewery. With the incredible Chef Robert Young at the helm, Bastone has become one of Royal Oak's premiere dining destinations. Restaurant week is your chance to sample some Belgian-influenced cuisine. Sirloin steak isn't typically exciting, but cover it in sweet sauteed onions and Belgian beer gravy, and you have something special. Add an award winning beer and your meal nears perfection.
BlackFinn Restaurant & Saloon 530 S. Main St. • 248.582.9460
You've heard about Blackfinn, right? Visit on a Friday or Saturday night and you'll see why everyone wants to be seen there on the weekends. Guess what? Blackfinn has some pretty killer food, too. Did you really think you could order a perfectly cooked, tender pork chop nestled on top of a small heap of mashed sweet potatoes at Blackfinn? Well, you can, and it is delicious. Wash it down with one of their specialty, artisinal cocktails.
Café Habana 419 S. Main St. • 248.544.6255
For some people, restaurant week is a time to try cuisine they might not sample otherwise. Although Cuban fare is similar to Mexican and even some Southwestern cuisines, there is still a sense that Cuban might be too exotic. Ease into your Cuban experience with chicken quesadillas. Mildly spicy but bursting with flavor, not all quesadillas are created equal. Don't forget to glance at the mojito menu. With a number of specialty mojitos, you're bound to find one that will cool down the heat.
Cantina Diablo's 100 S. Main St. • 248.543.4300
Royal Oak's newest Mexican restaurant is using restaurant week as a time to feature some dishes you might have missed in the past. The gorgeous Mexican Chopped Salad is piled high with jicama, peppers, avocado, black beans, roasted corn and cilantro. Topped with chicken, this is a hearty meal, not just a simple side salad. For the vegetarians out there, the Superior platter with a chile relleno, cheese enchilada and more is enough for three people. And remember, you still have two more courses to choose.
D'Amato's 222 S. Sherman Dr. • 248.584.7400
D'Amato's is a one-two punch. If you're looking for a fun night out, start off with a meal at D'Amato's and then stroll next door to Goodnight Gracie's. For restaurant week, the menu has a decidely rustic Italian feel. Sea scallops are served with house-made sausage, earthy eggplant and briny kalamata olives. This dish is all about balance with each flavor accentuating the other.
Fifth Avenue 215 Fifth Ave. • 248.629.9423
Another place known more for its drinks than food, Fifth Avenue has a fun menu focused on better than usual bar food. Given the type of food served here, my advice is to split the restaurant week offering between two people. The nachos and pizza alone would be enough to serve a small family. Add a dessert and a couple beers and you are teetering on a food coma. There are plenty of Michigan beers available, too. What goes better with pizza and nachos than beer?
Gemmayze 310 S. Main St. • 248.399.4900
Named for an artistic district in Lebanon, Gemmayze is not your typical Middle Eastern restaurant. This is not a shawarma sandwich type of place, instead the focus is on traditional Lebanese cuisine with a modern twist. During restaurant week, start your meal off with either the kufta sliders or Lebanese fish tacos. Both are served on fresh-baked pita. The kufta is topped with bittersweet burnt onions and housemade tzatziki (cucumber yogurt sauce). Perfectly seared ahi tuna is the star of the fish taco. Topped with tabouleh and tahini sauce, this is unlike any fish taco you've tasted.
Lily's Seafood & Brewery 410 S. Washington Ave. • 248.591.5459
We're about halfway through the list and Lily's is the first place I'll mention vegetables. Of course, seafood is an important part of the dish, too. Tempura shrimp on top of a bed of rice, mushrooms, bok choy and roasted red peppers served with a savory mix of sauteed edamame and tomatoes. It's not a particularly fancy dish, but the flavors are spot on and the composition is beautiful. And besides that, sometimes you want veggies that are worth eating not a glorified garnish. Eat the edamame, you'll be happy.
Little Tree Sushi 107 S. Main St. • 248.586.0994
Sure, Little Tree may specialize in sushi, but their restaurant week menu will offer dishes from all over Asia: Pancit from the Phillipines, Thai fried rice, Japanese yakisoba and more are all choices. Even the appetizer course has a globetrotter feel. Of course, you can still order sushi, but we think you'll be more than satisfied with the other options.
Lockhart's Bbq 202 E. Third St. • 248.584.4227
Sometimes you just want some meat. Lockhart's is the spot in Royal Oak for your carnivore fix. The Lockhart's Special is literally a platter of smoky goodness with brisket, pulled pork, and a house made sausage link. Served with two sides (we had macaroni and cheese and green beans), serious eaters will be pleased. Apple cobbler is a sweet and liberally spiced way to finish the meal. Don't forget to add a pint of Michigan beer to your meal. Each of Lockhart's taps is graced with a different Michigan brew.
Mr. B's 215 S. Main St. • 248.399.0017
When you walk by Mr. B's, especially on a Friday or Saturday night, you would probably peg the menu as strictly bar food like burgers, nachos and all things deep fried. Well, you'd be right, but there is a whole other side of the menu you'd be missing. Showcasing this "other" side of the menu is what restaurant week is all about. Jack Daniels Salmon is a moist salmon fillet slathered in a sweet sauce. Really not something you'd expect, but it is a welcome surprise.
Oak City Grille 212 W. Sixth St. • 248.556.0947
Simple is all you need sometimes. The Sixth Street steak at Oak City Grille is a truly classic steak preparation. Dry rubbed and grilled to perfection (to your ideal temperature, of course), it is a meat eater's fantasy. That vegetable on the plate – you know that green stuff called asparagus – lends an earthiness to the charred beefiness of the steak. Two items working in harmony – what could be better than that?
O'Tooles 205 Fifth Ave. • 248.591.9226
O'Toole's tagline is simple: "Hot bartenders and cold beer." While both will be available during restaurant week, you're visiting to eat (OK, and drink beer). It's really simple at O'Toole's, too, because there is one entree choice: a slab of ribs with fries. Charred to sweet and smoky perfection, these are ribs meant to be chewed. Don't get me wrong, this is a pleasant chew. Pair the ribs with a pint of Milking It Productions Brik Red Ale, a beer brewed right here in Royal Oak.
Oxford Inn 1214 S. Main St. • 248.543.5619
Oxford Inn is the one restaurant participating that could be considered "off the beaten path." Yes, it is still on Main Street, but it is a few blocks outside of downtown Royal Oak. Aside from the food, the most alluring thing about Oxford is its private parking lot. The food, though, is classic and fresh. Known for their ribs, the Oxford will also wow you with their salmon and Chicken Rockefeller, among others.
Pronto! 608 S. Washington Ave. • 248.544.7900
We've been focused almost exclusively on savory dishes, but dessert needs some attention, too. If you have a sweet tooth, Pronto! is the place for you. It's nearly impossible to choose between the three items on the menu. The Chocolate Sin cake has a delicate bitterness balanced by sweet milk chocolate and tart berries. Caramel Ripple cake is an even sweeter version of bumpy cake made with vanilla cake, caramel icing and buttercream frosting. Finally, pumpkin cheesecake (our favorite) is super moist and pleasantly spiced. And, really, what's a better fall flavor than pumpkin?
Rock on Third 112 E. Third St. • 248.542.7625
First and foremost, if you walk into Rock on Third, do not skip over their incredibly extensive beer menu. With plenty of Michigan beers and other craft options from all over the United States (and the world), there will be a perfect pairing for your meal. As for the food, the tortellini bolognese is hearty with big chunks of meat and a deep, pleasingly sweet sauce. Cheese tortellini are little pockets of ricotta goodness. Pair the dish with a porter or IPA for a true taste explosion.
Royal Oak Brewery 215 E. Fourth St. • 248.544.1141
Having just celebrated its sixteenth birthday, Royal Oak Brewery focuses as much on food as they do on beer. Restaurant week has a decidedly southern slant this time around with jambalaya and blackened catfish both on the menu.
Star Lanes 200 N. Main St. • 248.414.1000
Inside of the brand new Emagine theater, Star Lanes is a bowling alley, full service restaurant, and bar. Not only that, it's an awe-inspiring space. The menu is focused on upscale bar food, so pizza is of particular interest. The kitchen is equipped with a huge wood-fired oven that kicks out crisp Napoletana style pizza. For restaurant week, the specialty pizza is maple bacon chicken. Sweet, salty and smoky, each ingredient works harmoniously with the other like any good pizza should.
Sangria 401 S. Lafayette Ave. • 248.543.1964
Sangria's restaurant week menu gives diners a little glimpse into the world of Spanish cuisine. Basically, you can choose any one hot or cold tapas from the list and then you get a large portion of paella for dinner. If you're dining with a friend and/or companion, dinner for two includes any two tapas, an even larger platter of paella and a dessert. Paella is a rice dish infused with saffron. Made for sharing, paella has sausage, shrimp, chicken, vegetables and (of course) rice.
Tom's Oyster Bar 318 S. Main St. • 248.541.1186
Chef Quas is relatively new to Tom's Oyster Bar, but he's really outdone himself with this restaurant week menu. Every dish has at least one Michigan product with a focus on bold, fresh flavors. For example, the peppered seared sea scallops are expertly cooked and are set in a sweet and tangy white wine sauce made with Grand Traverse Riesling. The two scallop appetizer is a bright, nicely portioned start to your meal.
Vinotecca 417 S. Main St. • 248.544.6256
The third component to the Bastone complex Triumverent, Vinotecca is squarely focused on wine culture and the food that goes along with it. This time around, Vinotecca will be offering a house made cream puff filled with whipped cream and covered in dark chocolate. Although you might not want to pair wine with it, the intense sweetness screams for balance. Whether that balance comes from wine or coffee is up to you.
Woody's Diner 208 Fifth Ave. • 248.543.6911
Woody's regular menu is somewhat overwhelming. There are plenty of choices, but it is hard to discern which dishes are better than others. Leave it to restaurant week to aid your decision. The menu has been pared down to roughly 10 choices, a much easier proposition to handle. Try the Pasta Orleans with large chunks of sausage and chicken and studded with shrimp.
Zumba Mexican Grill 121 N. Main St. • 248.542.1400
Before Baja Fresh and Chipotle, Zumba was doing fresh Mex carry-out first. The most inexpensive choice of restaurant week, for just $10 you get a huge chicken fajita burrito filled with whatever you'd like (including guacamole), a side of chips and a drink. Also, you get to visit the fresh salsa bar where a number of different fresh-made salsas are offered for your gastronomical enjoyment. We love the super fresh pico de gallo. | RDW