The Ultimate Bar & Grill’s chefs break free from the shackles of pub-grub conventions with a revamped menu of bar starters and full-grown entrees. Platter pamperers steep 24 wings in a sauna of spices, such as lemon pepper and sweet chili ($17.99), before massaging rémoulade and marinara into fried green tomatoes ($6.99). Cloak Vienna beef dogs in an ensemble of Chicago-style duds, including mustard, relish, veggies, celery salt, and Prohibition-era fedoras ($6.99). Twinkle-toed clusters of snow crab legs quickstep through Cajun seasonings ($19.99), and chicken ($13.99), steak ($14.99), or shrimp ($15.99) cascade across the teriyaki stir-fry's mound of peppers, onions, and garlic. Taste buds plunge into the drink menu's wines, suds, and creative cocktails, such as the vodka-laced Electric Lemonade.
There is always a lively spirit of creativity at The Sound Table, but it changes throughout the night. The upstairs dining room boasts a menu that "zigzags through global influences: Belgian-style frites, Oaxacan hanger steak with salsa verde, Chinese grilled ribs redolent of soy and chile," says Atlanta magazine, which placed restaurant on its list of the area's 50 Best Restaurants. However, the menu's capricious nature doesn't stop at the recipes, it also affects the availability. The selection changes frequently as the chefs incorporate new, seasonal ingredients. On the downstairs level, the bar is a bit more consistent, although still inventive. In addition to the international assortment of wine and beer, the bartenders mix drinks that Creative Loafing Atlanta hailed as "some of the best cocktails in the city." These shaken and stirred concoctions are separated into categories that range from bright & dry to strong, rich & strange, and they occasionally feature nontraditional ingredients such as pine liqueur or garam masala. Although the food and drinks help keep spirits high, it's the live music that transforms the two stories of exposed brickwork, booths made of wooden slats, and soft industrial lighting into a lively neighborhood dwelling. Typically starting around 11 p.m., an ever-rotating lineup of DJs and bands performs throughout the week, energizing the crowds with anything from the raw, percussive fusion of African and Latin jazz-funk to globally-influenced psychedelic.
For more than 20 years, Carrie Heller's life has been a balancing act between honing her circus talents and helping others. Today, the licensed clinical social worker, a founding member of the American Youth Circus Organization, blends therapy methods with big-top techniques at the Circus Arts Institute, benefiting children and adults alike with mind- and body-benefiting acrobatics that send students swinging, twirling, and laughing through the air.
Carrie and her team of instructors acquaint students with circus-performance fundamentals using the trapeze, tight wire, Spanish web, and juggling balls. They bolster core and upper-body strength during Circus Arts Fitness workouts, which have been featured on CNN for their exciting approach to toning. For students with special needs, such as sensory challenges or ADD, they host Circus Arts Therapy classes. These sessions channel playful and positive energy as small groups learn to navigate circus equipment, enhancing their confidence, social skills, and physical coordination in a much more natural way than going on a handstand speed date.
When Wine Shoe owners Nora and Shannon Wiley started planning the shop's design, they wanted something that would blend their worldly travels with the historic culture of the surrounding Castleberry Hill neighborhood. The result was promptly recognized by Atlanta magazine, which compared Wine Shoe to a "private wine cellar in France stocked with wines from all over the world."
Today, the facility's floor-to-ceiling wine wall stands as a new challenge to rock climbers and as a stunning backdrop to an assortment of wine-related activities, including classes that drew more than 3,000 total students during 2011. Many of those students gathered around Wine Shoe's 12-foot rustic table, where, sitting beneath a glistening bronze and crystal chandelier, they paired sips with scrumptious hunks of education.
The shop carries more than 150 different wines, the majority of which come from small producers. It also keeps its door open to pooches, as Nora and Shannon's security dog, Beeren, is always looking for new buddies with whom to discuss the nuanced flavors of rawhide bones.
Divan Restaurant & Hookah Lounge serves Persian-influenced Mediterranean feasts amid exotic artwork, plush pillows, and flowing curtains. Hooded lanterns cast a warm glow on murals depicting a sultan's court, colorful modern canvases, and tucked-away corners where diners share mezzes amid crimson cushions or chairs wrapped in silver cloth. As they dine upon dishes such as duck confit with black-currant relish and grilled lamb with pomegranate-mint demi-glace, guests enjoy the comforts of the hookah⎯a traditional water pipe that relaxes users with smoke that combines a touch of tobacco, sweet notes from fruit molasses, and a dash of wispy ghost.
As wispy tendrils of hookah haze dissipate overhead, diners clink glasses filled with drinks such as fruit-flavored martinis and sup on plates of blackened salmon, garlic-butter grilled shrimp, and molten chocolate cakes with hints of tarragon and raspberry sauce.
Since 2006, Academy Ballroom Atlanta's instructors have helped competitive and social dancers two-step toward mastery of ballroom and Latin dance styles. Their classes range in style from the fiery moves of salsa to the elegant steps of the waltz to the boisterous footwork of swing, all of which can be scaled to suit varying abilities. During private lessons, the teachers' personalized attention helps develop each pupil's dance floor skills before they improve their patterns and techniques among peers at group classes. Those lessons culminate in group practice sessions, during which guests review their newfound moves while making an effort not to dip their partner into another dimension. Along with in-studio training, Academy Ballroom Atlanta hosts monthly semiformal dance parties, and its performance company, Atlanta Ballroom Dance Theater, wows crowds with shows—up to 90 minutes long—performed by professional and pro-am dancers.