Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse, Birmingham
New steakhouses sprang up everywhere this year, and each interpreted the genre in its own way. Most hedged their bets in a weak economy by filling their menus with other dishes; some barely qualified as steakhouses. Not Hyde Park in downtown Birmingham. If steakhouses were "in" this year, Hyde Park was in all the way. It features more than 20 steak entrées of various cuts, weights, garnishes, ages and types -- from twin 3-ounce filets to a 34-ounce Wagyu long-bone rib eye, as well as an impressive list of daily fresh seafood. Yes, some of its dishes are frightfully expensive. Yes, it's a chain -- from Ohio, no less. But here's why it makes our list: When you want the pure, unapologetic excess of the steakhouse experience, this place has it all -- the superb beef, the smooth service, the classic wood-paneled rooms, the stiff drinks and huge wine list, the clubby bar full of people in nice clothes. The night you want to go big or go home, Hyde Park fills the bill.
(Dinner only. First courses $8-$15; steaks $24-$80; other entrées $10-$57. 201 S. Old Woodward; 248-594-4369 and www.hydeparkrestaurants.com)