Andante and Villa are both great choices for a special dinner out. While I also agree w/ the suggestions for Stafford's restaurants, we too dine there often and it's always great to try new places!
Andante is no longer. The restaurant was purchased by the owners of City Park and Roast & Toast. From what I understand, it's going to be called Palette Bistro and will have a Mediterranean type menu with extensive wine list. They're closed right now for renovations but hope to reopen by the Petoskey Christmas Open House. There's another restaurant/cafe opening right near that spot too...the twisted olive or something, I don't recall exactly but I think it's going to be much more casual...perhaps lunch only?
Villa's been very good to excellent any time I've been there, but it's been quite some time (when it comes to Italian, we usually prefer to do our own cooking). They have an extensive wine list and a great grappa bar. Atmosphere's nice but service can be hit or miss...the owner seems a little snobby to me in a "take it or leave it" kind of way which dosen't go far in encouraging me to bring my business back. All in all, you can expect a nice experience, definitely worth a visit if you're not tried it yet and a good choice for a special occasion dinner.
Are you definitely looking for fine dining? There are several other more casual options that might make for a fun birthday dinner.
What about a cooking show?
Feeling a little uninspired in planning for your holiday menu this year? Let Chef Rob of Odawa Casino Resort’s fine dining restaurant, Sage provide some inspiration with a special Holiday Cooking Show on November 13th in the O zone from 6pm – 7:30pm. The menu will include Sherry Mushroom Bisque, Grand Marnier infused Cranberry Orange Relish, Roasted Pork Loin Roulade with Apple Sausage Pecan Cornbread Stuffing and Caramel Apple Bread Pudding with a Spiced Caramel Sauce.
Cost is $20.00 per person and includes recipes and samplings!
If you really wanted to "Casino it out"...you could do the wine tasting (only $10) from 3-4:30 at sage, stay for dinner then do the cooking show at 6.
Whatever you decide, I hope you have a great dinner and of course a very Happy Birthday!!