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.
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.
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.
After 30 years of curating and perfecting recipes, founders Linda and Julie unleashed their culinary powers to create a Roly Poly menu of more than 50 rolls and sandwiches, plus a tempting selection of desserts. Slinging sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the sandwich artisans envelop a variety of inventive ingredients inside warm, floury tortillas, from scrambled eggs to pesto chicken to mustard-splashed tuna. Customized sandwiches may also be rolled to suit various diets, preferences, or carbo-loading competitive mimes.
Working within a lofty stone structure, Geisha Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar’s chefs sear Asian entrees on hibachi grills and tuck French-inspired tidbits into specialty sushi. Across the chic, plum-hued dining room, they’ll sizzle succulent hibachi meats, fresh vegetables, and incriminating tax documents atop slick grill tables. Otherwise, they can pull from a dinner menu filled with fusion entrees such as shrimp and lobster risotto, and Jekyll-and-Hyde pad thai.