Pier W was redesigned in 2005 to resemble a luxury cruise ship. But it was originally designed to be something more familiar to Capt. Jack Sparrow than Capt. Merrill Stubing: a pirate ship. Gary Smith, son of Pier W's original draftsman, Ronald Smith, talks about what it was like watching his dad design the restaurant and going there as a kid.
I remember my dad sitting at his draftsman table in our basement just getting so excited, saying, "Can you imagine? It's going to look like a pirate ship just crashed in the side of the cliff. You'll be able to look out the back of the ship and see Cleveland's skyline." He put a lot of time and effort into it.
In the olden days, when you would come to Pier W, you would be greeted by pirates, and then you would walk across a gangplank. They'd say, "Ahoy, matey! Welcome to Pier W." Pier W was a hip place to go back then.
My dad would take my mom there for dinner all the time. There used to be a baby grand piano. My mom would always request "The Girl from Ipanema" whenever she'd come in for dinner. After coming in so often, whenever my mom would come down the stairs with my dad, the next song that the piano player would play was that song.
3 to try
Executive chef Regan Reik shares his favorite dishes with us.
Hearth Roasted Mediterranean Bass, $31
A whole fish is stuffed and seasoned with confit lemon, braised carrots and fennel, and served with olive risotto. "We cook it in a 650-degree stone hearth oven so it gets crispy on the outside," Reik says.
Seared Georges Bank Diver Scallops, $36
These flavorful bivalves are one of Reik's favorites. "They are so pristine because they take in the minerals around them," he says. He gives them a light pan-sear before serving with a house-made dashi broth, cavatelli and green beans.
Grilled Hawaiian Big Eye Tuna, $33
The Twilight Zone
Pier W's view brings out vibrant emotions and colors at sunset.
The view from Pier W's floor-to-ceiling windows is like a good marriage: Even after 50 years, it can still take your breath away. Seeing the colors wash over the city's skyline as the sun sets is exhilarating. From our favorite spot — the large, outward-facing booth on the dais at the foot of the bar — we relax to the wafting notes of the piano. As the night drifts on, we take in the transformation of Key Tower's windows from gold to orange to pink, then gradually into indigo hues. The lights inside twinkle on, mimicking the bubbles rising slowly from the Champagne in our dwindling glasses. We'll have just one more, then let the wind blow away the buzz from the patio upstairs.