When party hosts sit down with Sweet & Savory chef Melissa Mudd, she listens carefully to what they envision, then helps them plan a menu to match the event. An office gathering might get a lineup of party trays. An elegant party might center on herb-roasted beef tenderloin with stone-ground mustard, or even a custom chocolate-zucchini wedding cake. Once the menu is decided, she and her team make everything from scratch, scorning time-saving measures such as premade icing.
Even when there's nothing in particular to celebrate, the aroma of freshly baking focaccia lures guests into Sweet & Savory’s café and bakery throughout the day. For breakfast, chefs drown buttermilk biscuits in housemade sausage gravy, and sauté bananas in brown sugar and dark rum to create bananas-foster buttermilk pancakes with vanilla crème anglaise. Later in the day, they heap slow-cooked barbecue pork on onion buns, then craft tartines with fire-roasted shrimp and corn relish, which pairs nicely with chilled soup or a salad drizzled with peach-champagne vinaigrette. Dinners can also be taken home to families or nests of baby birds, along with pies, cheesecakes, and other desserts.
HotBox Pizza’s cooks adorn three varieties of hand-tossed dough canvases with six savory sauces, cheeses, and 26 toppings to create a menu of dine-in, takeout, and delivery pies. The signature HotBox combines double spicy pepperoni and banana peppers, and Big Al’s Fredo fights off pernicious poultry cravings with a combination of chicken, roma tomatoes, fresh spinach, and banana peppers. Aspiring pizza architects can blueprint their own pies by laying down traditional, thin, or multigrain foundations and selecting from six varieties of sauce-carpeting. Doughy disks simmer with mozzarella, ricotta, Wisconsin cheddar, or fontina cheeses to hold down up to four toppings such as pepperoni and artichoke hearts. Circle-eaters can also save room in their knapsacks or hollow shoe-heels for fresh salad and bundles of breadsticks that come with nacho-cheese, pizza, ranch, or garlic sauce, and wash down stubborn bites with refreshing slurps of soda.
The staff members at Muldoon's attribute their success to the craic, a term that they say describes the atmosphere of fun and fellowship often found in a true Irish pub. That laid-back vibe has paid off: Muldoon's has been crowned Best Neighborhood Bar by CityVoter for four years running. Washed down with an extensive beer selection, the hearty food menu stocks such Irish classics as shepherd's pie, Irish beef-and-potato stew with Guinness broth, and hand-breaded fried-cod fish ‘n’ chips. Chefs also prepare more local favorites, such as a classic Midwest breaded tenderloin that, in accordance with tradition, looks kind of like Abraham Lincoln's profile if you squint. Meanwhile, guests can cozy up by the fireplace to listen to live music or admire the antique cash register at the bar.
Chefs have been slicing maki and sashimi behind the black-granite counter at Sansui Restaurant and Sushi Bar since 1994. Uniting down-home hospitality with a deep knowledge of Japanese fare, they answer guests' questions about the restaurant's dishes, which range from standard tempura and teriyaki to the more exotic tako sunamono appetizer, in which octopus soaks in a vinegar sauce. Servers transport these artful creations through an interior adorned with floral accents and wall-mounted decorative fans traditionally used to waft hunger-inducing food scents toward one's enemies. In the lobby, sunshine filtered through rice-paper screens alights on a tall potted bamboo plant as patrons carry out parcels of sushi-grade tuna, salmon, or yellowtail, which Sansui also sells by the pound. (Call in advance to place orders.)
“I don’t want you to just follow the recipe because it’s there,” Katherine Haidar says in an interview on Fox 59. “I want you to add your taste to it.”
Katherine, the owner of Cooking Greek, draws on a passion for the traditional recipes she learned from her Greek-born parents. She began cooking at age 8 and lets that experience shine through while leading hands-on classes.
Katherine also brings that same dedication to authentic Mediterranean tastes to her adjoining eatery, where diners welcome plates filled with bites of roasted lamb, garlic, and eggplant. Many entrees are gluten-free; chefs infuse their signature lemon chicken with a blend of citrus and greek spices, and stuff dolmades with a wheat-free combination of rice, beef, and vegetables before tucking them into the oven.
Boredom is a foreign concept at Stacked Pickle. From its lengthy and eclectic menu to the games broadcasted on 92-inch projectors, the dynamic eatery provides something for every taste. Diners can bite into one of nine half-pound burgers, wrap their hands around spicy-chicken tacos, or build a castle with their golden-fried fish and chips, all while admiring professional athletes run, jump, and score on one of many 50-inch plasma TVs. On some nights, live bands storm the eatery’s intimate stage, providing a soundtrack to bargoers as they take swigs from a bottle of Blue Moon or gracefully sip a glass of wine. In the warmer seasons, Stacked Pickle opens its doors to nature and encourages patrons to enjoy their meals and drinks on the spacious outdoor patio.