Since April, 2003, the chefs at North End Caf? have championed a focus on local, seasonal ingredients with a healthy approach to cooking. North End Caf?'s menu features traditional meals from around the world, ranging from grass-fed beef burgers and flatiron steaks to grilled fish and scallops to stir-fry and cakes. For sharing, chefs build eclectic small plates such as crab cakes, fried goat-cheese ravioli, and almond-crusted brie. They also prepare a range of vegan and gluten-free dishes, taking care to avoid the pyrotechnics that result when steak and tofu touch.
To accompany these meals, bartenders pour American and international wines, and blend cocktails from fruit and old-fashioned ingredients. At the Highlands location, a brand-new tap system spouts 23 craft beers, including imperial IPAs and peppery black porters. In warmer months, the aromas of cooking and laughter of clientele also fill the Highlands location's outdoor deck, an expansive wooden patio surrounded by vines and flowers.
At Zen Garden, many of the Asian dishes sound familiar, with adjectives like "orange," "sweet ‘n’ sour," and "kung pao." However, rather than tossing chicken or beef in with these classic flavors, the kitchen has adopted a meat-free credo. Chefs mix masterfully seasoned bites of tofu and other meat alternatives with fresh veggies, creating entrees such as green beans stir-fried with mock duck and the barbecued-soy sandwich. Noodles tangle around shiitake mushrooms in both the udon-noodle soup and the shiitake mushroom lo mein, and curry sauce imbues eggplant and shredded tofu with a spicy kick. Guests can pair their meal with a cup of green tea, prepped hot, iced, or in its purest form: emeralds that have not yet been juiced.
The chefs at My Thai Cafe know that you eat with your eyes first, crafting classic dishes and handed-down recipes with an artist's precision and whimsy. They prepare generous bowls of tom-yum soup brimming with shrimp, lemongrass, kaffir-lime leaves, and galanga root, and stir-fry dishes including the pad ped with choice of meat and chili paste—a spicy concoction originating from the kitchen of the owner's aunt. Chefs garnish dishes with edible handiwork: carrots cut into butterflies, rice formed into heart shapes, and bunches of cilantro woven into fans for cooling fiery tongues.
No visit to The Meridian Cafe is ever the same, thanks to the restaurant's rotating list of daily specials. One visit, you might be tempted by a breakfast of spinach and roasted-red-pepper bread pudding with crumbled sausage and cheddar cheese. The next, it could be pumpkin pancakes with thick-cut bacon. The lunch specials are equally eclectic, ranging from a sweet-potato panini to a tostada loaded with black beans and spicy chorizo. One thing that never changes, though, is the homey space, lined with wooden tables and windows that let in plenty of natural light.
The Jet's Pizza man bursts through a cloud in his trusty jet pack. Clad in green tights and a red Jet's Pizza shirt, his black mustache bristling in the breeze, he stretches out a hand holding a single pizza pie??steaming, gooey, and inexplicably aerodynamic. This whimsical mascot, who appears on many of Jet?s signs and flyers, emphasizes the founders? philosophy that ?pizza should be fun,? as well as their simple motto: "Life is short. Eat better pizza!"
In 1978, the first Jet's Pizza opened its doors in Sterling Heights, Michigan, under the dough-coaxing of Eugene Jett and his brother, John. Fueled by the popularity of Jet's signature deep-dish square pizza and a later thin-crust addition, the franchise has grown to more than 200 stores, each operating under strict preparation criteria to ensure consistency. Jet's can "flavorize" any crust eight ways with ingredients such as poppy seeds and Cajun seasoning. After dipping boneless or regular wings in a sidekick of sauce, diners can two-hand a calzone-inspired Boat or employ an actual boat to float to Italy and stick out their tongues at the competition.
Louisville’s own Courier-Journal likens the coziness of J. Harrod’s Restaurant to that of an “old-school suburban sanctuary”—an apt description, though the upscale eatery sidesteps clichéd décor for an elegant dining room that refuses to pander to nostalgia. Like the green plaid wallpaper and other subtle touches of décor, chef Jenny Ballard’s menu reflects a refined simplicity with its comforting dishes of boneless fried chicken, center-cut pork chops, and veal marsala. The kitchen’s five house-made dressings spruce up salads with recipes that represent America’s diverse culinary traditions, from a zesty peppercorn ranch to a dressing that boasts ingredients from each of our country’s 1,000 island territories. Waiters whisk dishes from the kitchen to large tables, whose polished surfaces are illuminated by the glow that emanates from a wood-paneled fireplace.