660 W. Baltimore St., Detroit; 313-873-1739
Many MT readers may be familiar with New Center's Northern Lights Lounge as a stylish bar and performance venue, but for several years the nightspot has kept its kitchen open Monday through Friday in a bid for Detroit's weekday lunch and dinner crowds. For a business luncheon, you could hardly pick a snazzier joint. Not only does it sprawl throughout a large building that can seat more than 100 diners, it offers a variety of environments to dine in, including informal chairs up front by the free shuffleboard table, wraparound booths in the moodier main room, simple tables for a tête-à-tête, and even seating along the bar. The full bar can mix up offbeat, eye-catching concoctions. And the menu has several strong choices, with appetizers averaging about $7.50. The fried calamari appetizer is especially good — and big enough to share. Sandwiches average around $7, and include a turkey burger, a club with turkey, ham and bacon, and even a Philly cheese-steak. Their simple USDA prime chuck burger is an excellent specimen of bar food, coming cooked to order on a smallish sesame-seed bun, offering an excellent bread-to-beef ratio in each bite. Kitchen open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 21 and older only.