Owner and senior wine instructor Dani Cross created VinBoutique with a mission to introduce palates to the best French wines. A certified level-III sommelier, Cross personally travels to France to hand-pick vintages from small production companies and develop relationships with local vintners, ensuring her customers enjoy a collection of reds, whites, and bubbly that is exceptional not just in craftsmanship and taste, but also in value. "By tasting my wines, you can actually hone your palate way quicker because [the wines are] technically correct" in the way they are selected, shipped, and stored, she says. "If you're not tasting something that's proper, you won't know what chardonnay is supposed to taste like."
A strong belief that wine should be enjoyed and shared with others inspires VinBoutique's tasting classes, where Cross and other wine experts share insights into different varietals, food pairings, and wine-making techniques. Using an approach designed to be both fun and unintimidating, Cross also includes a question-and-answer section, as well as easy-to-follow tasting notes, making her classes accessible to everyone from the casual wine fan to the connoisseur who can uncork a bottle using only their mind. As Dani continued to try new wines and savor her favorite French vintages, she became dismayed. Often, the wines she bought had been stored improperly or for too long, destroying the bouquets and noses that she loved. "Born of frustration, I decided to start my own [wine boutique]." And thus she curated a selection of French wines for VinBoutique. "By tasting my wines, you can actually hone your palate way quicker because [the wines are] technically correct" in the way they are selected, shipped, and stored, she says. "If you're not tasting something that's proper, you won't know what chardonnay is supposed to taste like."
In addition to bottles of red, white, and bubbly, Dani and a team of instructors offer wine classes suitable for everyone from the casual wine fan to the connoisseur who can uncork a bottle using only their mind. Each class comes with notes and take-home materials, and is taught by a teacher who can both go into great technical detail or give thorough overviews so that student's don?t "get cross-eyed."
Matthew Corrin was fashion designer Oscar de la Renta's marketing manager, which meant a lot of long hours and a lot of hurried lunches. After his umpteenth greasy sandwich, Corrin began wondering why there weren't more convenient, waistline-friendly lunch alternatives. This rumination—and a resignation letter to de la Renta—begot Freshii, a fast, casual eatery that serves healthy meals and has graced the pages of various publications, including the Chicago Tribune and Inc.’s 30 Under 30 list. Environmental awareness also plays a big part in the business model as the food packaging is made from eco-friendly vegetable starches.
Every Freshii kitchen is stocked with the base ingredients of brown rice, romaine lettuce, field greens, spinach, and rice noodles; toppings such as carrots, broccoli, grilled tofu, and candied walnuts; and an array of dressings and sauces. Using these ingredients, the chefs create bowls, wraps, salads, soups, and burritos for lunch and dinner. During morning hours when the sun is still busy curling its rays, they scramble eggs, serve housemade oatmeal, and top fat-free frozen yogurt with a choice of fruit. Customers can bring their own bowls, and the staff will wash and fill them with fresh ingredients hailing from environmentally responsible farms that fairly compensate their workers.
A grill roars at 725 degrees Fahrenheit, the all-natural mesquite wood charcoal igniting flames that tenderly kiss the fresh cuts of meat and seafood. This centuries-old practice remains preserved in Mesquite Grill Steak & Seafood, owned since 1988 by Robert and Wendy Zamani. The couple are now celebrating the restaurant's 25th anniversary, as well as its 2012 designation as a Top Rated Restaurant by Restaurant.com. Chefs flash grill entrees such as tenderloin until they are deemed worthy to join optional supplements of fried shrimp, lobster tail, or king-crab legs on diners' plates. At lunchtime, the chefs slip grilled specialties such as hand-patted burger meat, gyros, and calamari steak between two slices of bread.
As the smells of grilled salmon, grouper, and clam chowder waft into the dining space, an air of New England emanates from the walls, which are dotted with seaside paintings, ship nets and rigging, and a colossal stuffed marlin that offers menu suggestions to picky eaters. Mesquite Grill Steak & Seafood also showcases Wendy's own hand-painted glassware, which customers can purchase, including wineglasses, decanters, and candleholders, all adorned with nontoxic paints.
Yama Yoga Village's certified yoga teachers combine their individual specialties and years of experience to foster a community where practitioners of all experience levels can work toward honing their health and wellness. During rigorous Vinyasa classes, students build strength, balance, and flexibility by performing a continuous sequence of postures, transitioning from one to the next using mindful breathing techniques.
For a more detoxifying practice, the teachers bump up the studio temperature to a moderate heat during hot-yoga sessions, taking advantage of heat’s ability to spur on sweating to purge pupils’ bodies of toxins in preparation for the more enjoyable toxins of the weekend. Students recovering from injury, those with a limited range of motion, or pupils who own extremely shy sticky mats can develop their yoga practice through private lessons. Yama Yoga Village also offers a menu of massage services including Swedish, deep-tissue, and sports modalities.
Growing up in a large Italian family, Chef Robert Sansone was enamored with his grandmother's home-style family cooking. A formal culinary education at Johnson & Wales University expanded his horizons and exposed him to an entire world's worth of flavors and cuisines. Thus, it's no surprise that upon founding Sansone's Bistro, he decided to embrace an eclectic culinary style that draws inspiration from cuisines throughout Europe and beyond, yet still manages to incorporate his grandmother's cooking whenever possible. The results are signature menu items such as chicken parmesan with homemade marinara sauce; wiener schnitzel topped with lemon, capers, and anchovies; or crispy duck with a chipotle-lingonberry jam.
The dining room similarly demonstrates a casual-yet-refined spirit via a warm, earth-toned space complete with dark chairs and booths surrounding the white-linen-draped tables. A wood-paneled accent wall features three pieces of abstract artwork, which add a bit of color and contemporary flair. Metal chandeliers hang from the ceiling, joining gleaming wall sconces and fishbowls full of electric eels.
The Dusty Boot Steakhouse & Saloon welcomes hungry guests to dig into burgers, steaks, and Mexican-inspired specialties. In the dining room, more than a dozen TVs tune in to games as diners sip tequila, margaritas, and other drinks. Meanwhile, the chefs wrap filet mignon in bacon, slow-cook slabs of pork ribs in tangy barbecue sauce, and garnish fish tacos with fresh cilantro. Diners not in the mood to build their own burgers can pick one of the specialty burgers, which include a breakfast burger with bacon, cheddar, and a fried egg, and the Fatty melt—a burger, sautéed mushrooms, and onions between two grilled-cheese sandwiches.
On the weekends, the Dusty Boots' staff wakes up early to the sound of their rooster's idiotic radio show and cooks up breakfasts of three-egg omelets and latke reubens, which include two potato pancakes smothered in corned beef, sauerkraut, thousand-island dressing, and melted swiss.