When a school of music also contains a live-performance venue, it’s an indicator that the lessons stick. Such is the case with the Columbia Academy of Music, where private practice rooms sit just steps from The Bridge, a club accustomed to welcoming musical talent from down the street and around the country. A stage within range of instruction can inspire even the most stage-frightened students to step into the spotlight, where they’ll get the hands-on, feet-on stage experience that renders books worthless.
The academy’s tuneful staffers are no strangers to this kind of public performance—some instructors have shared the stage with the likes of Chuck Berry, Sting, and Hank Williams III—but many also are experts in what goes on behind the music. In lessons tailored for all ages, skill sets, and music-making manners, the school strengthens the confidence of budding musicians in once-a-week sessions. Instrument instruction infuses students with techniques across a range of musical genres; audio-production and engineering courses teach students how to make solid records and tolerate most singers’ misguided requests for more Steak-Umms in the monitor.
Cafe Berlin fills its kitchen with vegetables, coffee, dairy, free-range eggs, and other natural and organic foods from local farms, including Patchwork Family Farms, Green Hills Harvest Dairy, and Lakota Coffee Company. Breakfast, which is served all day, includes dishes such as Turkish-style eggs, french toast, and pancake burritos—a large pancake that enfolds two scrambled eggs and Patchwork bacon, served with maple syrup. Black-bean quesadillas, burgers with local, organic beef, and housemade soups crown the lunch menu and pair with an array of alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks.
Plastic dinosaurs and Godzilla figures dot the sunny dining room, where they hang from the rafters, sit on the counter, and gnaw on table legs. Patrons can gaze at the eclectic decor while listening to live music or tales from the Porch Light storytelling series.
Midway One Stop Diner's staff takes its homestyle comfort cuisine seriously, especially when it comes to the Big 70 challenge. This platter of seven biscuits, four slices of bacon, two servings of hash browns, and 70 ounces of creamy sausage gravy is so hearty that it has only been finished by three people. Not to worry, though?the majority of visitors who aren't up to the task have a range of diner classics to choose from, all of which are served 24 hours a day. Three-egg omelets and hot cakes are crafted fresh throughout the day and night alongside platters of grilled or fried pork, steak, or chicken. Another signature dish is the monster burger, a 1-pound patty smothered in cheese and other toppings.
Kostaki’s Pizzeria’s cooks hand-toss their dough, lending it an airy texture before stuffing it with mozzarella and cutting it into St. Louis-style squares within its Cherry Hill kitchen. They can customize pizzas with gyro meat, banana peppers, and the piquant sauces that also flavor their chicken wings. They also whip up a 14 specialty pies, such as a BBQ Chicken, Hawaiian, and the Flagstone, which hoists hefty toppings of peppers, mushrooms, pepperoni, ham, and italian sausage. The restaurant rounds out its menu with chicken wings, half-pound Angus beef burgers, gyros, and beers from Boulevard and Leinenkugel.
B&B Bagel's name refers to the traditional process of making a bagel: boiling and baking. Whereas many places skip the boiling step, B&B considers it crucial ("If it's not boiled, it's not a bagel," their website states definitively).
It's hard to argue with the results. Any of the shop's classic bagels can be topped with flavored cream cheeses or breakfast meats; there's even a pizza bagel that comes with melted cheese and pepperonis. Of course, bagels aren't the only items on the menu. The shop also serves cinnamon rolls and traditional sandwiches, neither of which are boiled.
There's always something happening this eclectic bar, from standup to trivia to karaoke. Theme nights run Monday–Saturday and draw a diverse and friendly crowd that sips microbrews while playing board games, swigs PBR while dancing the night away, or quaffs other adult libations out of the bar's rentable drinking horns. Two dartboards, a pinball machine, and a jukebox add a vintage element to the spot, and free WiFi keeps patrons connected to the present. Eastside Tavern does not serve food, but folks are encouraged to take advantage of the BYO eats policy.