Michigan's capital city is home to terrific restaurants that offer not only great food but also event space. Whether you need room for hundreds of people or as few as four, you won’t lack in choices. Following are five Lansing-area restaurants that offer tasty fare and meeting space.
The English Inn Restaurant & Pub, Eaton Rapids
Need some time away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world? Stop by the English Inn Restaurant and Pub, located along the Grand River. Built in 1927, the former home of ex-Oldsmobile executive Irving Reuter and his wife was converted to an inn and restaurant in 1989.
The Inn’s fine-dining restaurant, complete with an authentic English pub, is the “in” spot for many locals; in 2014, OpenTable.com named it one of the nation’s 100 most romantic restaurants. Favorite entrées include lobsterstuffed walleye and prime rib.
“In 2002 we built a ballroom in a separate building directly adjacent to the main building that seats 200,” says Erik Nelson, the inn’s managing partner. “That’s really helped us facilitate doing a lot of large meetings, charity functions and weddings.”
A second, smaller meeting room in the same building as the ballroom seats up to 50. The main restaurant has four dining rooms that can be privatized for events; accommodations range from four to 16 in Oxford, 17-22 in Thames, 23-32 in Midford and 33-50 in Devonshire.
The inn also offers 18 overnight rooms, including 10 cottages (eight of them newly built).
Clara’s Lansing Station, Lansing
Clara’s Lansing Station, a staple of downtown for 36 years, is rich with history. The restaurant is a former train station built in 1903 and operational until 1972. It was renovated seven years later and transformed into a restaurant.
A 1910 Pullman train car, renovated in 1999, is connected to the main dining area. The train car is used as a semiprivate meeting area that seats 56. Another semiprivate meeting space, at the back of the restaurant, offers a fireplace and seats 40.
Patrons are greeted by oak-panel décor and three crystal chandeliers hanging from a 40-foot-high ceiling. “It’s unlike any place you’re going to go,” says co-owner Scott Jubeck. “You can dress casual, you can dress up—it really doesn’t matter. You fit in regardless.”
Clara’s Lansing Station focuses on traditional American fare but also has Italian and Mexican dishes.
Ai Fusion, East Lansing
Even dedicated sushi fans will find something new at Ai Fusion, which offers more than 80 varieties.
Ai Fusion combines Korean, Japanese and Western styles of cuisine. The restaurant has nine private spaces—five rooms with traditional tables that seat from six to 26 and four traditional Dadami rooms, in which shoeless patrons sit on the floor, that seat six to eight.
“It’s a neat-looking restaurant with a lot of woodwork,” says owner Song Su Kim. “Unlike most Asian restaurants that prefer dim lighting, we have Lupo lighting. We try to go for something a little bit modern.”
Popular sushi dishes include a chicken teriyaki salad roll and the Red Fire Roll.
Also popular are teppanyaki dishes (teppanyaki is a Japanese style of cooking that uses an iron griddle) in which a choice of meat is served with vegetables and a choice of steamed rice, fried rice or pan-fried noodles.
Spartan Hall of Fame Café, East Lansing
The Spartan Hall of Fame Café is decorated with Michigan State University athletics souvenirs wall to wall, and has a large bar area and and 30 televisions throughout the building.
Nonetheless, owner Steve Montanye refers to the venue as a sports restaurant, not a sports bar. “We provide a very good level of service in a very nice environment,” he says. “I like to think we’re a destination restaurant for Spartan enthusiasts, and that, of course, includes a pretty broad group of people—locals, university employees and alums who like to stop in before, during and after games. It’s an upbeat environment.”
Besides typical game-day fare like burgers and chicken tenders, the restaurant also offers signature salads, including its popular Hall of Fame Salad, and dishes like caramelized salmon.
Event space includes the private Spartan Room, which seats 50, and the semiprivate Duffy Daugherty Room, which seats 55. A covered patio seats 40.
Capital Prime, Lansing
If you want a great steak in a classy atmosphere, Capital Prime is the place. Located in the back of Eastwood Towne Center, the restaurant offers a relaxed yet elegant dining experience.
“It has a contemporary feel with lovely décor and a wonderful ambiance,” says owner Joe Goodsir. “It’s upscale, very stylish, but in addition to people who come in here dressed up, it’s not so fancy that you can’t wear jeans.”
Capital Prime’s signature steak is the dry-aged New York strip steak. Specials include a bone-in Manhattan and a weekly prime rib on Sundays. Capital Prime also offers seafood entrees.
The restaurant has two private rooms: One seats 18, while the other seats 40 for a sit-down dinner or 55 for a standing reception, and has a private patio with a small fire pit.