FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — You don't have to close your eyes and imagine the Las Vegas strip. Just walk through the doors of Cupids Steakhouse and it's all around you.
Notice the twinkling lights set in the glass-paneled ceiling, bubbly flames coming out of the table in the foyer, and the white limousine parked outside. Owner Alan Bieri and his family hope you will leave Fairview Heights behind for an hour or so, order one of his Perfect Pair filets and enjoy the atmosphere.
The Belleville native, who also owns Mississippi River Construction, seriously studied the idea of a restaurant for a few years before committing to it. Cupids opened Oct. 4.
Bieri, 54, said he grew frustrated as he watched more and more chain steakhouses set up shop in the metro-east.
"I just saw the need for an elegant, locally owned, fine-dining establishment," he said.
The multilevel interior, with burgandy walls and soft lighting, allows for intimate dining at high-backed banquettes or table seating for 100.
Up a few steps is the lounge area, with a glass-block bar surrounded by upholstered chairs. Behind the bar is a wall of about 500 wine bottles.
"Wine is $7 a glass, and bottles sell for $18 to $400," he said.
If you want to sit around the piano bar nearby, you'll be the center of attention.
"You always start with something and we started with the piano and built around it," Alan said. The high-tech black baby grand is not just a player piano, but has what is called Synchovision.
"The piano plays in sync with the video," Alan explained. Screens are set into the wall and the floor for easy viewing. "So you can watch Tony Bennett singing while the piano is accompanying him."
If you need some privacy for a meeting or group get-together, the elegant party room has table seating for 20 that includes a motorized projector and screen.
"For the Christmas season, I'm offering this space for free," he said.
On the menu is a variety of steak and seafood entrees. The most popular and unusual is the Perfect Pair ($23.95). It's two 4-ounce filets topped with your choice of eight sauces, including Madeira Mushroom and white wine, port wine and bearnaise, gorgonzola horseradish and sherry cream, and roasted garlic cream and herb butter.
"You can mix and match them as you want," Alan said.
Other beef entrees include twin Oscar Filets ($26.95) topped with lump crab meat and finished under the broiler, a 12-ounce New York Strip Steak (center cut) for $26.95 and a Barrel Cut 8-ounce Filet Mignon ($31.95).
Other entrees range from New Zealand lamb chops served with a garlic-rosemary port wine reduction, Shrimp Scampi Pasta ($19.95) with pan-seared jumbo prawns served on angel hair pasta tossed with fresh tomatoes and herbs, and the Grilled Bourbon Salmon ($22.95), which is fresh from Vancouver, marinated, grilled and basted with bourbon glaze and served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes. All entrees include house salad, potato and vegetable.
"This is a goal we achieved as a family," Bieri said. His wife Barbara and daughters Elizabeth and Ruth Ann handle the front of the house. Son, Adam, is the general manager while his older son Allan handles the limousine service and the construction company.
If you're wondering about the limo parked out front, it's all part of the experience.
"The service is always free with at least four people within a reasonable radius," Alan said of picking up diners and taking them home. "But if you have eight, we'll go to Freeburg!" And that includes New Year's Eve.
Hours: 4-11 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays; to midnight Fridays and Saturdays
Location: 5225 N. Illinois St., Fairview Heights
Features: Fine dining, lounge, player piano bar. Live music on Saturdays begins Dec. 22. Drink specials and appetizers 4-7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Free pickup and delivery in limousine for four or more diners with a reservation.
Handicapped accessible: Yes.
Information and reservations: 235-7777