That handsome, low-slung driftwood building you’ve noticed next to Plum Market on Orchard Lake Road at Maple — you know, the one with visible flames outside — well, it’s high time you went inside.

West Bloomfield’s profile as a dining destination has risen dramatically since the July 29 opening of Prime29, a contemporary steakhouse also offering seafood and cocktails. Co-owners Joe Barbat, founder of cellular store chain Wireless Toyz, and Jacob Dehko are new to the restaurant business but ambitious. Since taking ownership of the former Bar 7 Grill and 7 Ultra Lounge & Restaurant, Barbat said they’ve created an upscale “community place” for casual fine dining. Doors open at 4 p.m. daily.

Barbat’s contention is that West Bloomfield residents like him should not need to drive to Birmingham to enjoy outstanding food, spirits and service in a beautiful setting. All of those features, he’s proving, can be found close to home with Prime29.

Dining there on a recent evening, I felt relaxation wash over me to the musical accompaniment of Sinatra and Michael Buble.

The cuisine at Prime29 reflects the talent and kitchen leadership of executive chef Hai Ying, a Chinese native. She worked under Master Chef Michael Russell at Iridescence in Detroit’s MotorCity Casino prior to accepting her first head chef position.

Prime29 offers USDA prime beef, which undergoes a 29-day wet aging process. Now the restaurant’s name becomes clear.

“The wet process produces a more tender steak than dry aging,” Barbat explained. The cuts offered are filet mignon in two sizes, 14-ounce New York strip, 16-ounce ribeye and 24-ounce Tomahawk bone-in ribeye.

Other meat choices include rack of lamb served with butternut squash puree and Moroccan vegetable ragu, veal osso buco with couscous, oven-roasted vegetables and herb salad, and red wine-braised short ribs with creamed polenta, Cippolini onions and blistered tomatoes in a red wine demi-sauce. Slow-cooked prime rib au jus, plus accompaniments, is a Sunday feature.

The ever-popular Surf and Turf pairs filet mignon with a lobster tail. More choices from the sea are pan-seared red snapper or salmon, seared scallops and lobster tail. Among the appetizers, crab cakes are a delicious treat made with lump crab meat only, no filler.

The Chilean sea bass was mild-tasting yet buttery rich — the “Cadillac of fish,” as Barbat called it. At Prime29, this entree is second only to grilled filet. I tried it along with three other favorites: regular ribeye, short ribs and Sizzlin Filet (prime filet kebabs and veggies with Zip sauce). You couldn’t go wrong ordering any of them. The meat was tender, properly seasoned and cooked perfectly. Entrees start at $14 for the half-pound prime burger.

Prime29 uses Michigan-grown produce, and I would be remiss not to mention the magic ingredient of truffle oil in three outstanding sides: roasted fresh corn, fries and three-cheese truffle “mac.”

For dessert, consider chocolate lava cake, coconut rice pudding (gluten-free), cheese blintzes and fried Oreos. Illy brand coffee is served.

6545 Orchard Lake Road
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
(248) 737-7463
$$$1/2 out of $$$$$

Special features include 50 percent off tapas (small plates) from 4-6:30 p.m. daily and Wine Down Wednesdays, offering “exclusive glasses” and half-off bottled wines. Consult the staff sommelier, Michael Derylo, on wine selection.