Since its inception as a home-décor boutique in 1987, Country Keepsakes Tea Room has rotated a roster of first-rate comfort food in a cozy, familial setting. Eclectic tablecloths and warm lighting complement the comforting menu, which, like Monday’s placement in the sequence of days, changes every week. Chef Beverly Bruce assembles the Keepsake quiche by filling a potato crust with broccoli, ham, and cheese, then sending it to tables on side-dish wings made of tossed salad and freshly baked bread ($8.79). Tuck into a classic with the chicken-fried chicken, a pan-fried chicken breast accompanied by gravy-drenched mashed potatoes and green beans ($9). Polish off a noontime meal with a sweet item from the rotating dessert menu, including the luscious, always-available triple-lemon pie.
Fueled by a belief that anybody can paint, co-owners Jenny and John Ball opened Thirsty Palette painting studio to prove that experience level doesn’t matter when it comes to tapping into your inner artist. During sip and paint classes, guest artists guide students of all backgrounds through easy step-by-step instructions, teaching them how to use all the provided art supplies to easily recreate that session’s chosen image. Past paintings have included cherry blossom trees, team mascots, and peacock feathers. Throughout the class, Jenny and John encourage students to loosen up with a cocktail, wine, beer, or non-alcoholic beverage from the studio’s fully stocked bar.
For private parties, the Bells tailor their painting session to the event or the host’s likes. For example, they may lead kids through a Scooby Do painting at a child’s birthday party. For an extra fee, Thirsty Palate staffers can also bring all the essentials for a memorable party, including food, decorations, and high-powered jet packs.
There is plenty to see, hear, and smell inside Ceramics & Coffee House @ Paint, Glaze & Fire. Here you’ll see rows of clay-colored mugs, vases, plates, pictures frames, and figurines next to bits of colored glass for fusion projects. Overhead a mosaic of tiles painted by customers creates a colorful ceiling, and up front an espresso bar grinds PT's coffee beans and steams milk for lattes.
Debbie, a Paint, Glaze & Fire co-owner, especially likes seeing dads painting pottery with their kids. Debbie says that while a father and his children might not talk too much while painting, they're still communicating and sharing a lot more than if they were silently sitting in a movie theatre. Plus, after painting, glass fusing, or canvas painting this family will have a something to show for it.
While fun for the whole family, Ceramics & Coffee House @ Paint, Glaze & Fire focuses on cultivating the creativity and curiosity of children. Kids' parties and summer camps actively engage youngsters, as do the bimonthly Paint Me a Story sessions, where a favorite children's book is paired with a pottery painting activity. With space to house 30 to 40 adult-size imaginations, the studio can also host corporate team-building events, girls' nights out, and other celebrations.
Ceramic Cafe arms artists of all ages with the artistic instruments necessary to transform unfinished earthenware into pottery masterpieces. Guests can adorn two 12-ounce mugs, two 8-inch round plates, or one mug and one plate in more than 60 different colors of nontoxic ceramic glazes that will not flake off and add unwanted seasoning to swordfish-casserole dishes. Idea books, stencils, sponges, and stamps supply sources of artistic inspiration, and staff members stand by to demonstrate techniques, or to pose for a mug-side replica of Whistler's Mother. The studio fires pieces in its kiln to ensure designs are food safe and long lasting, and customers can retrieve their work the following week.
Authentic techniques are the key to French recipes. Understanding this, Chef Emmanuel Langlade honed his cooking skills in Marseille, France, before opening Aixois Bistro with his wife more than a decade ago.
Amid suspended orb lights and rustic, wrought-iron chandeliers, French flavors prepared by chef Miguel Sanchez delight palates at all hours. As morning light spills through enormous windows, the staff brews fresh coffee to pair with piping-hot croissants for early-bird visitors. Lunchtime guests sample favorite French sandwiches, from the classic croque-monsieurs to the egg-crowned croque madames. For dinner diners, the kitchen dishes up an elegant menu that includes two varieties of moules frites (mussels with pommes frites), as well as seafood, steak, and oven-roasted chicken. Afterward, traditional desserts such as crème brûlée topped with fresh berries cap off meals and keep sweet teeth from rebelliously biting tongues.