Cafe Beautiful owner and sole chef Melinda Roeder fashions artfully arranged Asian fusion cuisine for diners who like to eat with their eyes just as much as they like to eat with their mouths. “The presentation,” she says in a profile piece by LJWorld.com, “is just as important as how it tastes.” At Cafe Beautiful, each multi-course meal feels more like an extravagant event than an ordinary restaurant visit, stretching over hours as guests take in a parade of plates that may include savory Korean custards or spicy sushi with a Thai pepper sauce.
Cafe Beautiful’s expansive windows unveil picturesque views of the outside hustle and bustle on Massachusetts Street while its intimate dining room warmly embraces guests with its candlelit setting, bursting decorative foliage, and local artwork. In the aforementioned LJWorld.com article, Chef Roeder decries the culture of rushing customers before they can savor their food or fold their napkins into swans, stating, “We eat at such a rapid rate…and sometimes you feel pushed out by restaurants waiting to get another table. That’s not the experience you have here.”
Z's satisfies caffeine cravings and general rumblings with an abundance of organic drinks and treats at its two locations. Take an aromatic journey through the 12 bulk bins of whole beans roasted on-site each week ($9.99+/lb.), or sidle up to a specialty drink, such as the Rocky Raccoon, a frappé fused with chocolate, hazelnut, and caramel ($4.10 for a big). Non-joe options include a tasty assortment of smoothies (sans high-fructose corn syrup) and tea, in addition to hearty breakfast chomps. Guilt-free sips and sudden urges to commune with nature are all courtesy of Z's Divine Espresso's commitment to sustainable practices, such as recycling used coffee grounds as free fertilizer for local farmers and gardeners.
Each morning, Eileen’s team of bakers constructs fully formed confectionary feasts from scratch out of primordial balls of fresh cookie dough. Guests can engineer the dessert DNA for their perfectly crisped disks from 12 classic flavors, including oatmeal scotchie, peanut butter chocolate chip, and M&M. A colorfully decorated 4-inch cookie makes the perfect plug for the 4-inch hole in your appetite’s precarious dam ($1). Feed a larger crowd with a dozen 3-inch cookies ($4), or charm your bus stop regulars with a more appropriately colossal 16-inch selection ($16). Eileen’s ovens stay at the ready for short notice orders, and custom decorating is also available for any size. While today’s Groupon is valid only at the Lawrence location, Eileen’s boasts locations in several states, and each store is locally owned and operated, ensuring that all cookies speak colloquial Kansan.
The talented team of taste-makers at Barb's Kolache Bakery whip up a menu starring the versatile Czech pastry. Kolaches are created daily by stuffing yeast dough with a filling that may include fruit, meat, poppy seeds, or more. Colorful fruit-topped kolaches, such as apple, blueberry, strawberry, and apricot ($1.40 each), can flavorfy bland palates while inspiring fruit-painted murals of the cast of Sesame Street. Turn meat roars into meat purrs with savory kolache varieties such as sausage and cheese or bacon and cheese ($1.70 each). Or, pacify cranky taste buds with Danish melt-a-ways, an amalgam of buttercream frosting, pecans, and streusel inside a buttery, flaky pastry shell ($2.30), or icing-slathered cinnamon rolls ($1.90). Barb's Kolache Bakery is open 6 a.m.–1 p.m. Tuesday–Friday and 7 a.m.–1 p.m. on weekends.