When you descend the staircase into Pier W, you're not just entering a space designed to evoke the hull of a cruise ship. You’re also walking into Cleveland culinary history. Originally a creation of famed frozen food manufacturer, restaurateur and Lakewood resident Vernon Stouffer, Pier W was built in 1965 to be a premier fine-dining destination in the city.
Now more than 50 years later, the lakeside space is on a mission to serve 100% sustainable seafood (try the wild Alaskan salmon, flown in within 18 to 36 hours of being caught when it’s in season) and is known throughout town for its elaborate Sunday brunch.
But whether you’re at Pier W day or night, one thing remains consistent: The crown jewel in the five-star Pier W experience is the breathtaking view of Lake Erie and the downtown skyline. General manager Mark Kawada stepped away from the bustling dining room to explain what keeps Pier W fresh, scenic and celebratory.
On Pier W’s iconic view: The view is extraordinary. We were voted one of the top most romantic restaurants in the country by Travel and Leisure. We’re with the likes of places in Napa Valley and Hawaii — and then you have Cleveland, Ohio. The view is different every day. The city is the same, but the lake is always a new look every time you come in.
On the art of brunch: The Grand Brunch might be more expensive than getting an omelet, but you are not going to find another spread like ours. It has a carving station, raw bar and specialties like our famous bouillabaisse, which has been on our menu since we first opened.
On fresh ingredients: My favorite dish is the grilled Hawaiian bigeye tuna. We get it three times a week from Hawaii. Literally, they call us at 9 or 10 in the morning, which in Hawaii is five hours behind us. They catch the tuna that day, process it, send it to us and we get it the next day. On the menu, it comes with a scallion fritter cake, Chef’s Garden spinach, pickled red cabbage and a Korean barbecue glaze.
On being a dining destination: We love being a place that people actually plan to visit. While Pier W is a great place to stop by for a happy hour, we know that people plan far in advance to celebrate their loved ones or to propose to their loved one. It makes us all feel so special to work here.
On milestone celebrations: In my 8 years here, there has to be at least 20 or 21 people who celebrated their 100th birthday here. I think it’s so incredible what they have seen throughout their life, from no cars to cellphones. It’s really special that they choose this space to celebrate that occasion.
When You Go: Pier W, 12700 Lake Ave., Lakewood, 216-228-2250, pierw.com
Read More: Click here to read the full list of 18 Classic Cleveland Restaurants.