The instructors of Origins Dance Academy have traveled far and wide to learn and practice their craft, from choreographing in Los Angeles to dancing in prestigious European and Canadian ballet companies to appearing in area musicals. That wide range of experience allows them to teach youngsters in a wide variety of classes, including tap, ballet, and hip-hop. Origins also occasionally presents its students in performances and sends them to competitions judged by technique, difficulty, and how well the dancers perform sequences from Swan Lake while partnered with real swans.
Inside of a charming century-old brick building overlooking Crown Point’s bustling square, head chef Carl Lindskog stays busy crafting combinations of Italian and Japanese edibles culled form the mindparts of experienced edibles. His feasts of grilled seafood, focaccia, steak and pasta grace cloth-clad tables downstairs in Amoré Ristorante, where the vintage bar dating from Chicago's 1933 World's Fair enshrines a heel print from 1930s dancer Sally Rand. Upstairs, Lindskog’s delectable sushi rolls, tempura, and dumplings pair with 109 Lounge’s 34 specialty martinis. Live music frequently fills the air during the evening hours, complementing the chef’s creations with a laid-back attitude that permits smoking and encourages playing hooky from other, less interesting dinners.
Zodiac Cafe and Lounge balances a constellation of themed martinis with a Mediterranean-inspired menu of sandwiches, salads, and small plates. Diners design flights of cheese and olives, and chefs stuff grass-fed burger patties with a rotating selection of ingredients. Pints from the craft-beer menu complement edibles, as do 12 martinis that re-imagine each astrological sign as a concoction of colorful spirits. Muted earth tones and wood accents anchor both dining room and lounge to terra firma, and starburst light fixtures and an astrological chart grant insight into Zeus's interior-decorating scheme. After the sun sets on the patio, wander inside to check out the schedule of karaoke, open-mic performances, and sets from local house DJs.
It would be nearly impossible to try every beer offered at Catch 22, since its 20 different drafts and wide selection of craft bottles are constantly changing. Cups brim over with lagers, stouts, and reds from the Indiana-local Four Horsemen Brewing Company, along with martinis and specialty cocktails. In the kitchen, an executive chef simmers up upscale pub fare, including sandwiches, burgers, and steaks. Platters and drinks spread out along the hardwood bar and tabletops that scatter the 8,000-square foot dining hall, amid the glimmer of 16 flat-screen televisions and the boom of a digital jukebox. In warmer months, a wall of garage doors opens up into an expansive patio, exposing diners to free-spirited air, warm sunlight, and gentle breezes.
With a rich wood bar, stone pillars, and furniture imported from Dublin, T.J. Maloney's invites comparison to an authentic Irish public house. The similarities extend to the Hibernian fare, which features traditional Irish staples such as colcannon-crusted shepherd's pie, fish 'n' chips, and tender corned beef and cabbage. Felt-lined booths ensconce diners as they share laughs over pints of stout or glasses of whiskey, and live performances on Friday and Saturday evenings serenade guests with the dulcet sounds of Irish folk music, blues guitar, and Gaelic pronunciation lessons.