Teri Scheff, a skilled ceramics sculptor and the founder of Artrageous Desserts, augments celebrations with customizable cupcakes and cakes, in traditional stacks or eye-catching original designs. Armed with a spatula and steady hand, the playful artist crafts cakes for weddings or other special occasions in the likeness of family pets, a new car, or a conventional birthday cake's long-lost twin. The bakery's mature-cake division boasts racy designs in anatomically inspired shapes and adult-themed inscriptions.
Essencha's leisurely tea lunch begins with your selection of either a hot pot of tea or a shot of matcha (finely milled green tea). The tea house lets you choose from over 70 varieties of high-quality blacks, oolongs, greens, whites, rooibos, herbals, and organic flavors. Essencha's passionate staff of tea-totalers will help you navigate this voluminous variety until you find the tea you never knew you craved. Next, a soup of the day or miso soup stretches tongue tendons, followed by a fruit salad or a café salad with seasonal greens, veggies, dried fruit, pine nuts, and lemon vinaigrette. After you fill up on finger sandwiches with your non-teacupped free hand, enjoy a scone paired with clotted cream and jam. A cupcake or triple-chocolate-chunk brownie caps off a meal fit for tea tycoons and tea-drinking raccoons alike.
One taste of Aroma’s more than 100 flavors—including chocolate amaretto, green apple, peanut butter, pistachio, watermelon, even earthworm—and you’ll understand why gelato is like ice cream multiplied by itself. Sporting a svelte 10% butterfat content (compared to ice cream’s 18%), gelato is also healthier and made by a process that doesn’t inject air into the mixture, resulting in a dense, delicious flavor that can only be adequately expressed with joyful bursts of Italian gibberish and interpretive dance battles. Aroma’s gelateria keeps 24 of its 100 flavors chilling in the display case at a cozy 5–10 degrees Fahrenheit, which you can sample in a variety of sizes, such as small ($2.75), medium ($3.25), large ($4), pint ($8), quart ($12), 1/2 gallon ($20), full pan (serves 40, $35), and wheelbarrow (party-sized, served with a giant spoon).
The creative culinarians at Aquarius Star’s Om Café transform organic, local ingredients into savory salads, sandwiches, and wraps that pair perfectly with fair-trade coffee and tea. The menu offers meat-free munchers a slew of vegetarian and vegan options, including the shareable organic hummus and veggie plate ($8.75), Om’s grilled blackened-tofu wrap ($8.75), and the Om salad, topped with raw nuts and homemade lemon-garlic dressing ($9.75). Om Café's Double Decker turkey sandwich ($9.25) delights eco-conscious carnivores with its blend of free-range turkey, locally sourced veggies, and organic mustard, mayonnaise, or aioli.
To help readers venture beyond classic children’s tomes such as Dr. Seuss and Last Exit to Brooklyn, Blue Manatee will happily introduce you to the latest in li’l lit. Escape to the city with Brown Rabbit in a new title by Natalie Russell, or investigate the adventures of Origami Yoda with a pint-sized padawan Star Wars fan. Slightly older readers, meanwhile, can stock up on award winners such as Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, a macabre re-imagining of The Jungle Book. Check out the list of recently released titles, or peruse the shelves to find books for babies (prices vary). Blue Manatee also offers a unique gift selection of Uglydolls ($6–$22) and puzzles (starting at $9.99). Blue Manatee is open daily.