Transplanting from the Baltimore/DC board, because I'm coming home for the holidays and the same question applies in Chi-town.
I recently went to a place near my home in Maryland that is one of those "Been there forever" kinds of places that everybody has been to for a banquet, special occasion dinner with the family, or wedding reception - the sort of place that keeps chugging along, but gets no mention in any sort of restaurant reviews, food pages, or on-line forums.
In short, it was not a bad meal. Actually, it was a pretty good meal, if not particularly creative. What struck me, though was the general vibe of the place - the sort of "supper club" that our family used to go to for "special occasions" in my youth a couple of decades back. The sort of places that used to be a fixture on the dining scene -reliable "neighborhood institutions" aimed at an "upscale, but not trendy" dining experience, usually with a lot of wedding reception and banquet business in addition to the normal dining room trade. Examples I remember from my youth might include Phil Smidt's or Vogel's (Smidt's nearby competitors in years gone by), or maybe the main dining room of Teibel's in NW IN, or the old Tivoli in Chicago Heights.
Forgive me for not citing examples in the city - I grew up in the south suburbs. And I realize that of the ones I mentioned, only Teibel's is still around, but Smidt's Vogel's, Tivoli, and Teibel's were the "big four" for my family growing up. If it was a "big" occasion, odds are we were going to one of those, or maybe Princess Cafe in Beecher, or Glenwood Oaks back when it was still Poor Richard's.
It's not a genre that's much in vogue these days, but I'm curious if there are any examples of this niche still around that are worth Chowhound exploration, as long as one knows going in what to expect (quality) and what not to expect (an abundance of "cutting edge" culinary creativity). And since I'm in the south 'burbs and NW Ind area, bonus points for ones in that area.
Any guilty pleasures in this niche that anybody out there wants to 'fess up to enjoying, or places that you know enough about to mention?